by Justin Soderberg,
The UMass Lowell River Hawks left Tuesday to take the 10-hour bus ride from the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass. to the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., home of the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four.
With the team on the road, former River Hawks’ goaltender Carter Hutton talked about this year’s team and its trip the the Frozen Four. The 27-year-old is in the hunt for a playoff spot with his Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Although he misses the college game, “especially the crowds and student sections” said Hutton, he enjoys the lifestyle of the professional game.
While in net for the River Hawks from the 2006-07 season until his senior year in 2009-10, Hutton posted a 32-41-10 record. However, his career 2.33 goals against average, .913 save percentage, and 10 shutouts are all records at UMass Lowell.
Hutton never had a doubt the River Hawks would eventually make a trip to the Frozen Four, “even the way my class progressed over 4 years, when I was there they really showed the school wanted to succeed.” said Hutton. “Pretty proud to see them making the Frozen Four and winning Hockey East.”
The former River Hawk has been following the team throughout the season,”Seemed like they didn’t start off too hot, but got rolling and haven’t looked back.” “They seem to have a good mix of players in the lineup and a young goalie playing great.” he continued.
The biggest factor for the recent success of the Rivers Hawks and their player of the year, has been the outstanding play of freshman goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck. Hutton was only able to watch one of his games on television, but said “for a freshman he seems very compose and patient in his movements, which you don’t see to often in younger goalies.” The current IceHog continued to say, “clearly [Hellebuyck] is the real deal with the season he is having.”
Hutton has five remaining regular season games with the IceHogs and is hoping for a spot in the postseason, but has the night off on Thursday when the River Hawks face Yale in the Frozen Four. “So pumped, I will be bale to catch the game Thursday. I will be done practice and plan on watching it.” The goaltender isn’t the only player on the IceHogs with ties to Thursday night’s tilt, “a fellow teammate played at Yale so we have a little friendly wager on the game.” The recent success for the River Hawks this season has paid off for Hutton as well, “So far with all the wins against schools of teammates I haven’t had to buy a meal in a long time.”
All four teams in the Frozen Four this season have yet to win a National Title, so college hockey fans around the country are in for an exciting time. “It isn’t your typical powerhouse schools that you always see which is great for college hockey,” said Hutton. “Any team with the right mix can win.”
Hutton never had the opportunity this River Hawks’ team has, playing in the Frozen Four. The goaltender had a few words of encouragement for the players, “being a player who has moved on from Lowell and been fortunate enough to have spent time with different pro teams at the ECHL, AHL and NHL level, my word of advice would be to enjoy every second of it.” He continued to say, “college hockey and the friendships and memories are something that will stick with you for a lifetime. The hockey part is easy, just play, you are there for a reason, have a chip on your shoulder knowing that its yours to win.”
The atmosphere around Lowell right now is second-to-none, people know who the UMass Lowell River Hawks are. Millions of people around the world will tune-in on Thursday to watch an outstanding River Hawks team. Hutton was able to comeback to the Tsongas Center, after the renovations, and said “after my freshman year the program almost was shut down and to see how far it’s come is really a credit to everyone involved. I couldn’t be more proud to say I am a graduate from Lowell and to have spent four great years there that helped me develop into a pro.”
The IceDogs face off against the Peoria Rivermen on Wednesday night at 8:05 p.m. eastern, as they fight for a playoff spot. Check out Hutton in action online and cheer for the former River Hawk.
UMass Lowell will drop the puck against Yale at 4:30 p.m. eastern on ESPN2. For those in the Lowell area, join the party at the Tsongas Center, beginning at 3:00 p.m. and cheer on your River Hawks!
Justin Soderberg covers Hockey East for Inside Hockey, UMass Lowell for View from 123 and various sports for Rant Sports. Follow him Twitter, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.