River Hawks enjoying the rock star experience, but ready to play lunch pail hockey

Massachusetts-Lowell players and coaches enjoyed a police escort to Logan International Airport. When the plane landed in Pittsburgh, they were greeted by cheerleaders and a pep band, courtesy of host school Robert Morris. Banners all about the city proclaimed a welcome to the Frozen Four.

“[The police escort] was pretty cool,” Chad Ruhwedel said. “I’d never experienced that before. You get get there pretty quick.”

“We were kind of in awe,” Riley Wetmore said of the cheerleader-and-pep-band greeting. “We don’t really expect that ever. It was something different and it was neat.”

Getting treated like a rock star is an experience these young men are likely never to forget.

But they’ll need some temporary amnesia in Thursday’s game against Yale and maybe, just maybe, a Saturday night match for the national championship.

“We have a wow factor for the first day,” Wetmore said. “We want everyone to enjoy the experience. For the guys in the locker room, this is once-in-a-lifetime [experience]. Being a senior, this is the only time I’m going to be able to experience it.

“So, yeah, we took it in. We had a good practice. But tonight and tomorrow, it’s going to be [our usual game-day] mentality. We’ve got to be focused and ready to go.”

Lowell coach Norm Bazin pointed to Wetmore’s leadership as a critical component in the River Hawks enjoying the experience but avoiding the distractions. Wetmore is the only two-time captain in the history of the program who has led his team to the NCAA tournament.

“We’ve approached these last three weekends the same way,” Bazin said. “Riley Wetmore has been a great two-time captain for us.

“When you have good leadership, you can get over some of those distractions. We’ve done a fairly good job, I believe, as a coaching staff, of trying to eliminate a lot of those distractions over the course of the week, introducing some of the things that they may see here.

“Once tomorrow comes, it will be business as usual.”