I moved to Lowell, Massachusetts in the summer of 2011 after spend a few years in Haverhill. Little did I know what moving to Lowell would do to my sports fandom.
The apartment I moved into was a stones throw for the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, home of the UMass Lowell River Hawks. It was the former home of the Lowell Lock Monsters and Lowell Devils of the American Hockey League (AHL) before the University purchase the building from the City and the Devils opted to move to Albany, New York.
After looking out my window for a few weeks, I decided that I needed to attend UMass Lowell hockey games and purchased a 5-game pass. However, after I thought a bit harder I realized I wanted more and upgraded to season tickets. My first seat was row two, seat one of section 123.
In my first season I saw the River Hawks lead my new head coach Norm Bazin turn around a team that went only 5-25-4 in the previous season to a 24-13-2 team, a trip to the NCAA Tournament and Coach of the Year award for Bazin.
I was absolutely hooked.
The team had this aura surrounding them that made it intoxicating and addicting to watch and root for. I wanted more.
I moved on from solely owning season tickets to writing about the team, researching recruits, following alumni and hosting a radio pre-game show online. I launched a new website to cover a wider-range UMass Lowell sports and mixed martial arts. I was addicted.
Over the years I became friends with fellow season ticket holders, new and longtime, I met new journalists, school athletic departments and even parents/family of the players. They all became a family to me.
It was easy to find love in a team with a story like UMass Lowell’s. Rich history in Division II, but a up-and-down history in Division I with no titles that was finally making it to be considered as one of the best teams in the country.
My love continues for River Hawks, but things change in life. I moved away from Massachusetts and returned to Maine to start the next chapter in my life. Sometimes you don’t realized how much of an impact the change has on you until time progresses.
I miss my River Hawks.
Tonight, October 7, is the first UMass Lowell hockey opening night I will miss since my first River Hawk opening night in 2011. Over the span of five seasons I only missed a single home game, tonight will be the second, tomorrow the third and so on.
As I said before, the River Hawk experience for me is more then missing a game, since I will be watching on GoRiverHawks.tv, its about missing the people you see, the sights and sounds of the Tsongas Center, the grabbing a beer at the Beer Works before or after the game. Its about writing about the team, talking to Norm and the players following the game.
Tonight will be tough for me, I feel like I am missing a family gathering.
The Bangor Area are fans of the Maine Black Bears. The fellow Hockey East foe of the River Hawks are located only minutes from Bangor and also has a rich history. However, I will remain a River Hawk fan for life and will proud display my red, white and blue River Hawk apparel without fear.
Have fun River Hawk fans, enjoy the season, add another regular season and champion title to the history books and show the world who UMass Lowell is.
Good Luck UMass Lowell, I miss you.