By Matt Noonan
Entering the upcoming 2012-13 Hockey East season, UMass Lowell was selected as the second best team behind Boston College in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Yet, despite the “so-called pressure,” head coach Norm Bazin is focused on making sure his players work hard on and off the ice, and are ready for their first official contest next Friday, October 12 against the University of Vermont.
Bazin spoke with reporters last week at the Hockey East Media Day and below is the transcript.
On the team being ranked second in the preseason poll: “Well, we don’t pay attention to them because if we aid attention to expectations – last year we’re picked ninth and you wouldn’t have played the games, you would have been so depressed, so we don’t pay too much attention [because] we focus on trying to get better every single week and hopefully we’re in contention at the end of the year with some of the elite teams in our conference.”
On what the team learned last year from their experience in the Hockey East and NCAA tournaments: “They learned a great deal. First of all they got necessary experience that they will need in the future, but more importantly they understood how difficult it was to get there and how much of a process it is, so we’re trying to get our guys to focus on that rather than anything else.”
On addressing the team’s biggest concern: “We certainly expect excellence on and off the ice, but our [defensive unit] was one of the primary positions we were concerned with last year. We feel we’ve added some competition for playing minutes and this year it’s going to be very competitive at that position.”
On the play of goaltender Doug Carr: “We hope Doug can certainly have another good season. Last year we thought he was phenomenal for us and it will be a real challenge for him to have a similar season this year because we’ve got two other boys [that are ready to go]. Brian Robbins, who’s a year older, we’ve got Connor Hellebuyck, who’s coming in and wants to steal some of those minutes, so Doug’s going to be in there for a fight for the same types of minutes that he got last year.”
On the growth of Scott Wilson: “Well, we look for him to continue to develop as a hockey players and he’s gotten a little heavier and he’s hopefully a little stronger and like anything else, sophomore years are tough for a lot of people. It’s tough to repeat a good season whether it’s Doug or Scott, so it’s a real challenge for them to repeat with a similar effort, but that’s part of the fun of playing the games.”
On Stephen Buco’s potential role with the team: “I hope [he has a major role with the team]. Steve I feel has done what he needs to do off ice to become a stronger more explosive individual and it’s really going to be up to him whether he can carve himself out more minutes.”