LOWELL, Mass. Greg Koehler was dressing amongst some of his Beast of New Haven teammates in Tsongas Arenas cozy visitors locker room when a pair of reporters approached late Saturday night.
His teammates were silent for a moment, then realizing the connection, began their good-natured teasing of one of their newest players.
Koehler, who played two years of hockey at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell before making the jump to the pros last spring, made a triumphant return to Tsongas Arena Saturday, notching his second goal in two nights in New Havens 5-2 win over the Lock Monsters. After playing in just three games for the Beast a year ago and not dressing for their first two this season, Koehlers hit a stride, of sorts.
Nice to score, with friends looking down from the stands, Greg?
"Definitely meaningful," he said. "I was here for two years, had a great time, a great experience."
Koehler, a Scarborough, Ont., native, left Lowell shortly after the River Hawks were bounced by Maine in the Hockey East semifinals in March, signing a six-figure deal with the Carolina Hurricanes and getting assigned to New Haven. He appeared in three games with the Beast last year without scoring a point.
"Conditioning was the big thing," he said, referring to his first professional off-season. "The puck moves a lot faster than it does in college. Guys are stronger."
He did not dress for either of New Havens first two games including a 6-1 win here last Saturday but registered his first professional goal in a win over Adirondack Friday night.
And no, there are no regrets.
"Not at all," Koehler said. "It was the right choice for me at the time. I had a great coach, a great university. I have nothing bad to say about it at all."
Saturday nights national anthem was performed by Emily Spaulding of Amherst, a student at Souhegan High School ...
Lowell and New Haven entered the game with the second and third best power plays in the AHL. The Lock Monsters had converted on five of their 17 extra-man chances (29.4 percent), while New Haven had scored on nine of their 32 opportunities (28.1 percent) ...
Saturdays game was the first of a five-game home swing that will last for the next 10 days. Lowell will entertain Cincinnati here Wednesday night, followed by home games against Syracuse (Friday), Providence (Saturday) and Springfield (Oct. 28).