|BC’s Jerry York enjoys having three new coaches in Hockey East. (Wendy Maeda/File/Globe Staff)|
UMass-Lowell turns back clock with Bazin
As Norm Bazin, who took over the reins as coach of the UMass-Lowell men’s hockey team, prepared for the 2011-12 season he said there was one more thing he wanted - more time.
“We certainly would like a few more weeks of preparation, but everybody has the same time,’’ he said, a little more than two weeks before making his debut with the River Hawks. “We realize everyone would like a few more weeks at this point.’’
Turns out Bazin need not have worried. The River Hawks proved plenty ready as they swept the two-game opening weekend at Minnesota State, 4-2 and 4-1. This from a team that scored four or more goals only seven times last season.
On Tuesday, the team went to overtime before losing to UConn, 3-2, in Nashua, N.H.
Now Bazin and his team are in an extended break before a home-and-home series with Boston College Oct. 28-29.
“Our expectations are simple. We plan to improve from last year’s performance [5-25-4],’’ said Bazin. “In order to do that, we want to start playing a very tenacious, hard-checking style.’’
Bazin played at UMass-Lowell (1990-94) and then was an assistant for the River Hawks (1996-2000) and Colorado College (2000-08) before serving as head coach at Hamilton College for the last three seasons. Bazin said it was a natural progression for him to return to Lowell.
“For me, it was an easy decision,’’ he said. “I have tremendous pride in our program. It’s a place I want to make a difference and leave a legacy and so it was an exciting position for me to pursue and I’m glad I’ve got this opportunity.’’
Bazin said he reached out to alumni during the summer, wanting them to be a part of it.
“This summer was a big, big fund-raising campaign to add to the Tsongas Arena,’’ he said. “I can tell you, it’s been a tremendous success. The alumni group has supported this thing as much as they’ve supported anything.’’
Although it takes time for a new bench boss to put his mark on a team, Bazin said there is much about which to be optimistic.
“I’m excited about our leadership,’’ he said. “I feel that there are a few young men that we’re going to build off of for the coming years, but we’re more concerned with what we can do this year. I think it’s going to take some time to play a different style and institute our philosophy [a puck-possession style]. However, it’s not the players I inherited. It’s our team and that is what we’re going with.
“It’s going to be a work in progress. How fast that’s going to happen will be determined by how well they buy in and if you have the right pieces in place.’’
It has been a good start for the three new coaches in Hockey East. Bazin, Northeastern’s Jim Madigan, and Providence’s Nate Leaman have a combined record of 5-2-1.
BC coach Jerry York said new blood is good.
“They’ll bring some new wrinkles into our conference,’’ said York. “I got to know [Leaman] when he was at Harvard as an assistant. Nate did an excellent job at Harvard. Union is a school that generally doesn’t compete in national tournaments, so the job he did at Union kind of opened up a lot of people’s eyes. He deservedly got the coach of the year award. He’s a terrific hire for Providence. It brings another dynamic young coach into our conference.’’
Boston University coach Jack Parker said it helps the veteran bench bosses to have new faces.
“All three are very capable guys who will bring a lot to the league and challenge the other established coaches who have been here for a while into doing things better and doing things harder, because usually new coaches bring a different perspective into a team and into a league - like Mark Dennehy did at Merrimack,’’ said Parker.
“My first 19 years as the head coach at BU, we had the same four coaches in the Beanpot - Ferny Flaman, Lenny Ceglarski, myself, and Billy Cleary. In the last 19 years, those three schools have had at least three coaches, some as many as four or five.
“It’s a sign of the times, too. Things get changed. They will give their teams different looks, that’s for sure. We want to show off everybody in our league, not just a few of us.’’
In (other) coach’s corner
Adrienne Gwozdecky, an 18-year-old BU freshman, had her loyalty tested last Saturday night when her father - Denver coach George Gwozdecky - and the Pioneers took on the Terriers at Agganis Arena. Denver had beaten top-ranked BC the night before, 4-2, when the Pioneers coach was asked about facing BU.
“Well, I won’t be getting any scouting report from my daughter,’’ he said.
When Adrienne enrolled at BU, Parker invited her to work with the team as a student assistant manager.
“She’s been around our program all her life,’’ said Gwozdecky. “This is a great opportunity for her to see what it’s like behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis. She loves it.’’
The coach admitted that his daughter “can really talk trash with the best of them.’’
“When the polls came out at the beginning of the season and BU was ranked ahead of us,’’ he said, “she called me and said, ‘You’re going to have to do better.’ ’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.