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A special thanks

March 1, 2008

A few words, now, on Kelly Sullivan, the team’s only senior who played in his last game ever at Tsongas Arena tonight.

Earlier in the season, we were a little hard on Sullivan for a few things, but in the past month or so, while the team has been on the downslide, Sullivan has quietly been elevating his game as a defensive defenseman. It seemed to be a situation where he stopped overthinking plays and worrying about his mistakes. He just played hockey, and he played it well. We are duly impressed with his dramatic improvement over these four years.

Perhaps our favorite Kelly Sullivan memory is from last year, and we remember it vividly.

After a scoreless first period at Matthews Arena, in the midst of Lowell’s 20-game winless streak, Sullivan, he of the yellow skate laces, scored his first collegiate goal, and it wasn’t pretty. His wrister from the top of the left circle deflected off the leg of a defenseman who had dropped to one knee to block the shot and into the air. It floated slowly down, end over end, and dropped behind Brad Thiessen‘s head.

It gave Lowell a 1-0 lead in a game it would eventually lose 2-1 in overtime despite a Herculean effort from Nevin Hamilton in what must have been his first actual game at Lowell, but Sullivan’s goal was absolutely one of the highlights of those dark times when the winless streak that would stretch to 20 games seemed endless. The enthusiasm with which his teammates congratulated him speaks to how well-liked he is in the dressing room. Everyone on the bench seemed genuinely very happy for him.

Sullivan has played 85 games for the River Hawks including tonight (he’ll play at least five more before he’s done), recording two goals and eight assists. He scored again against Providence earlier this year in the first multiple-point game of his career.

Sullivan was always a gentleman in our dealings with him and, despite not regularly getting into the lineup until this year, never grumbled about playing time. Sullivan’s one of those kids that’s a great person to have around your locker room, and a better ambassador for the program and the sport. It’s been a pleasure to watch him come into his own as a senior.

Thanks, Sully.

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