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Recapping the River Hawks 2023 ice hockey season

(Photo courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics) “River Hawks gather together in preparation for their playoff game against conference rival UConn.”

Tanner Hume
Connector Editor

The 2022-2023 college hockey season was a challenging one for the UMass Lowell River Hawks. It was also a season filled with amazing moments and endless memories shared by the fans and the players themselves. But now that the season has concluded, a proper look back must be observed.

The River Hawks had some shining stars come to UMass Lowell and join the team from both the transfer portal and incoming freshman. Some notable names from this list are goaltender Gustavs Davis Grigals (from University of Alaska Fairbanks) and forward Scout Truman (freshman) just to name a few.

The River Hawks style of play this season showed fans from all over the Merrimack Valley area that they wanted to win and get back to the NCAA Ice Hockey tournament, where they fell to the eventual champions Denver University in the first round a year prior.

Despite some bumps in the road mid-season, the River Hawks still persevered and tried their hardest to capture as many wins and as many points as possible. Meanwhile the team trusted Grigals to be their brick wall and forward Carl Berglund and defenseman Jon McDonald to be the captains able to lead the team to excellence.

The River Hawks would eventually end their regular season on a slump, losing three of their final four games. Despite this setback they were able to clinch a first round bye by taking the 5th seed in the Hockey East Conference. As such, they waited until they heard back on who their opponent would be–UConn.

The River Hawks would beat the UConn Huskies 2-1 in the quarterfinals, thus earning their trip back to TD Garden for the semifinals. Their opponent would be a red-hot Merrimack College squad going on a Cinderella run to honor their late assistant coach Josh Ciocco who died before their season began.

Unfortunately for UMass Lowell, their run would end as Merrimack College bested the River Hawks 2-1 in a double overtime thriller at TD Garden, thus ending their season and their NCAA tournament hopes with it.

Now that the season is done, the River Hawks will begin the process of bringing in new players and saying goodbye to a few of their own as well.

Captain forward Carl Berglund signed a 2-year Entry-Level Contract with the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers and is set to report to their American Hockey League affiliate squad, the Bakersfield Condors, to finish out the season.

Captain defenseman Jon McDonald signed a contract with the East Coast Hockey League’s Toledo Walleyes, an affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, where he reported and has now joined the team.

Forward Zach Kaiser has also found a new home as he signed a contract with the ECHL’s Trois Rivières Lions (the ECHL affiliate of the Montréal Canadiens) and has since joined the team for the remainder of their season.

Defender Marek Korenčik signed an Amateur Tryout Contract with the ECHL’s Iowa Heartlanders who are the 2nd tier affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.

Lastly, goaltender Edvard Nordlund entered the transfer portal looking for an opportunity to shine on the college hockey rink as a legitimate goaltending option.

After all the departures on top of all the adversity they faced through the season, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as the River Hawks are set to build back up and start over again. Next season will be a blast.

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