UMass Lowell hockey team welcomes international incoming class
Norm Bazin and his staff’s pursuit of top players extends well beyond the United States and North America.
Need further proof?
UMass Lowell’s incoming six-player freshman class includes two Sweden natives.
“At this point hockey is a global game. It’s can you play hockey?” Bazin said.
“I think it’s a combination of immediate impact and guys who can develop over time,” he said of the incoming class. “We’re looking forward to giving them a chance to play Division 1 hockey.”
UML’s 2021-22 roster will feature four players from Sweden, one from Slovakia and one from Germany (though Nik Armstrong-Kingkade is listed as being from Alexandria, Va.). The expected addition of another European skater, likely in September, will add to UMass Lowell’s international flavor.
Also ready to make their River Hawks debuts are two transfers.
Here’s a look at the eight newcomers.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman, a native of St. Louis, Minn., is a transfer who played three seasons at Colgate. In 110 games at Colgate, Austin netted nine goals and 37 assists for 46 points.
He made the ECAC Rookie Team after scoring 18 points as a freshman. Austin picked up two assists in Colgate’s 4-3 win at UMass Lowell on Oct. 18, 2019. His brother Johnny played hockey at UConn.
Bazin: “We’re expecting him to help us from the get-go. He’s a headsy defenseman who should be able to provide some offense. He skates well. He has the ability to be calm under pressure.”
The 6-foot, 192-pound defenseman from East Aurora, N.Y., should literally be a hit with UML fans. Not afraid to throw his weight around, Blanchard has been compared to ex-UML blueliner Nick Schaus for his physical play.
He compiled a 5-7-12 line in 48 games with Sioux City of the USHL and was eighth in the league with 113 penalty minutes.
Bazin: “Hard, physical style on defense and will help with our size and grit factor. He’s a very competitive defenseman.”
A transfer who played two seasons at Nebraska Omaha, Brushett is expected to provide offense in his first season at the Tsongas Center.
The 6-foot, 180-pound forward from Verdun, Quebec registered 3-22-25 totals in 54 games at Nebraska Omaha after an impressive junior career. In 163 games in the British Columbia Hockey League, he produced solid 72-87-159 totals.
Bazin: “Ryan should be one of our go-to guys. His better days are ahead of him. We’re going to give him the opportunity to be an offensive player.”
A 5-9, 170-pound forward from Dunnville, Ont., Cole finished sixth in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with a line of 6-17-23 in 20 games. He scored seven points in his final three games, earning league Player of the Week honors.
He previously played two seasons for the Ottawa Jr. Senators of the CCHL, notching 92 points in 80 games.
Bazin: “He’s a small forward who completes well and has a knack for offense. He’s a very mature kid that will help us on and off the ice.”
Crasa, a 5-11, 185-pound forward from New York, N.Y., was a major reason Fargo advanced to the USHL championship series.
He tallied 11 goals and 12 assists in 53 games in his first season in the USHL. He added four points in nine playoff games. He led Fargo with a plus-23 rating. Crasa produced 25-19-44 totals in 51 games during the 2019-20 season for Cowichan of the BCHL.
Bazin: “Matthew is an explosive skater who has the ability to help on offense and help the tempo on a team. He played defense a bit in the playoffs. He’s versatile.”
The native of Angelholm, Sweden made an impressive showing in his first season in North America, notching four goals and 17 assists in 39 games for Tri-City of the USHL.
Jonsson was second in scoring among Tri-City defensemen despite missing 12 games and tied for eighth in scoring among all his teammates. He is a 5-10, 178-pound player with excellent skating ability.
Bazin: “Isac is a heady, puck-moving defenseman. His skating is excellent. I think he adapted excellently. He’s intelligent, he’s got a good demeanor and he’s someone who can move the puck.”
Owens was one of the top players in the North American Hockey League. A 5-10, 170-pound native of Midlothian, Va., Owens led his Maine team in goals (24) and points (51) by a wide margin.
The crafty forward then scored more than a point a game in the playoffs, finishing with eight points in seven games. He was seventh in the NAHL in regular-season goals.
Bazin: “He’s someone we feel has a really high hockey IQ. He supports the puck very well. He had a terrific season. He’s made the most of his opportunities.”
Another player from Sweden, the Stockholm native is a 6-1, 175-pound goaltender. Like Jonsson, he made his North America debut this past season.
He compiled a 9-5-3 record with a 3.03 goals against average and .902 save percentage for Danbury of the NAHL. He posted a 2-0 win over Maryland on Feb. 25, the first shutout in franchise history.
Bazin: “We felt he had a pretty good season for Danbury. He saw a lot of action. He has very good athleticism. He’s got the right attitude and a good demeanor for a goaltender.”