“I feel like in years past when I was here, there would be certain guys who wanted to go on and play after college and those guys would always be working hard in the gym. Then there are the other guys who want to go into the business world or go into different professions and they might not be ready to sacrifice what everyone else is.
“I feel like when he got here, [his attitude was] if you want to be here and be on this team, then you’re going to be held accountable, and there are no exceptions from the freshmen to the seniors. I feel like we’ve bought into that and the last two years have been tremendous.’’
‘In a good place’
Lowell faces Yale Thursday afternoon in the Frozen Four semifinals, followed by Quinnipiac-St. Cloud State. Much has been said about the Cinderella seasons the four teams have had, but Bazin said he doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t feel like it’s a Cinderella story,’’ said Bazin. “Last year would’ve been. Last year, I felt like we were going on adrenaline the whole season. It was just one energy rush.
“This year, it’s been a little more systematic, a little more organized. Maybe that’s just because it’s my second year. I don’t feel the same Cinderella effect that I did last year. I feel that we’re in a good place going into it.’’
Although it is all good feelings now, Skinner was actually nervous when the River Hawks opened the season 4-7-1. When he approached Bazin, though, the coach said, “We’re fine.’’
The AD joked, “Can we be fine a little more quickly?’’
Bazin proved to be right, and his résumé only becomes more impressive with time. On Wednesday, he was named recipient of the Spencer Penrose Award as men’s Division 1 Coach of the Year. He has been the Hockey East Coach of the Year each of his two seasons at Lowell. Prior to that, he was NESCAC Coach of the Year two years in a row at Hamilton.
At Wednesday’s press conference at Consol Energy Center, Bazin expressed both gratitude and appreciation for the award but wants the focus to be the game against Yale. Slow and steady wins the race, and Bazin is happy to leave all the fanfare to others.
“This is, in my view, one of the great sports stories in the country,’’ said Skinner. “If you look at where we were three years ago, and what’s happened in two years, there aren’t many stories that are going to mirror that.
“Last year was the best turnaround by a first-year coach in Division 1 college hockey history, going from five wins to 24. We were expecting some good things would happen this year but it just goes on and on. It’s been a great run for the university.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.