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Bill Riley Jr. Named Hobey Baker "Legend of College Hockey"

By Wally Shaver, 02/16/17, 2:30PM CST


St. Paul, Minn. – The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation is very pleased to announce its 2017 Legend of College Hockey recipient as Bill Riley, Jr. Often referred to as the father of UMass Lowell hockey, coach Riley took over a fledgling program in 1969, built it into an NCAA Division II national power and ultimately moved Lowell into Division I hockey as a charter member of Hockey East in 1984.

Starting from the humble beginnings on an outdoor practice rink in 1969, the then Lowell Tech Terriers went 11-6 in their first season under Coach Riley. Two years later, he had the renamed University of Lowell Chiefs in the ECAC Division II Tournament. Within ten years, Riley’s impact was felt on the national stage as the Chiefs went on to win three national titles in four years beginning in 1979. Back to back Division II championships followed in 1981 and in 1982 with the 1981-82 season due to a 31-win campaign.

After five consecutive seasons of at least 20 wins, four ECAC titles and three NCAA Division II Championships, Riley saw one of his most enduring dreams fulfilled. The Lowell program elevated to Division I status for the 1983-84 season and was accepted as a charter member of a newly formed super league known as Hockey East for the circuit’s inaugural 1984-85 season. 

It took Riley only five years as a Division I member to reach the NCAA Tournament (1988). Riley stepped down from the bench following the 1990-91 season, having coached Lowell for 22 seasons, 14 in Division II hockey and eight in Division I. His overall record was 363-270-22, making him the winningest coach in program history.

Riley continued to serve in various capacities with the UMass Lowell Department of Athletics including associate director of athletics and coordinator of events until his retirement from the University on 2008.

A native of Medford, Mass., Riley was a three-year player under coach Jack Kelley at Boston University. Graduating in 1968 with a degree in physical education, he earned his master’s degree in the same field in 1972 from BU and earned his doctorate in sports psychology in 1981. Bill Riley has been inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Hall of Fame along with his late father, Billy, Sr.

Coach Riley will be honored along with this year’s Hobey Baker Award winner at the annual Hobey Baker Award Banquet on Thursday, May 25, 2017 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Banquet tickets are available by visiting the Hobey website at:

Key Hobey Baker announcement dates for 2017 include:

  • Top Ten list of candidates:  March 15
  • Hobey Hat Trick of three finalists:  March 30
  • Hobey Baker Award announcement:  April 7

The 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Friday, April 7, 2017 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Chicago, IL. For more info on the Hobey Baker Award or to access the Hobey logo, please visit