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Weekend preview: Hornets! Hornets!

November 5, 2010

The Lowell River Hawks (1-5-2, 1-5-0 HE) vs. the Vermont Catamounts (0-2-2, 0-1-1 HE) and the No. 10 New Hampshire Wildcats (2-1-2, 0-0-1 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Massachusetts.
7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Massachusetts.

Lowell is tied for seventh in Hockey East with two points from six games. Vermont is tied for ninth in Hockey East with one point from two games. UNH is tied for ninth in Hockey East with one point from one game.

Last three games
Lowell — 1-5 at BC, 1-2 at BU, 1-5 vs. BU
Vermont — 2-3 vs. Maine, 2-2 (ot) vs. Merrimack, 1-1 (ot) vs. Denver
UNH — 7-4 at Cornell, 2-2 (ot) at Northeastern, 3-3 (ot) vs. Michigan

Prior meetings
Lowell is even with Veront 12-12-4 and trails UNH 30-51-15, all-time.

Season series
Nothing to report.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Riley Wetmore — 8 GP, 2-4-6 (6 GP, 1-3-4 HE)
Chad Ruhwedel — 8, 1-5-6 (6, 1-2-3)
Josh Holmstrom — 8, 0-5-5 (6, 0-3-3)
David Vallorani — 8, 1-3-4 (6, 0-2-2)
Joe Pendenza — 8, 3-0-3 (6, 3-0-3)

Vermont:
Wahsontiio Stacey — 4 GP, 4-0-4 (2 GP, 1-0-1 HE)
Jack Downing — 4, 2-1-3 (2, 0-1-1)
Josh Burrows — 4, 0-3-3 (2, 0-1-1)
Nick Bruneteau — 4, 0-3-3 (2, 0-1-1)
Dan Lawson — 4, 1-1-2 (2, 0-1-1)

UNH:
Phil DeSimone — 5 GP, 2-4-6 (1 GP, 0-0-0 HE)
Mike Borisenok — 5, 2-4-6 (1, 0-0-0)
Stevie Moses — 5, 4-1-5 (1, 0-0-0)
Mike Sislo — 5, 3-2-5 (1, 0-0-0)
Paul Thompson — 5, 3-2-5 (1, 1-0-1)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (1-2-1) — 5 GP, 225:17, 3.20 GAA/.902 sv% (4 GP, 160:17, 3.74 GAA/.884 sv% HE)
Marc Boulanger (0-3-1) — 5, 260:39, 4.37/.858 (4, 196:47, 4.57/.850)

Vermont:
Rob Madore (0-2-2) — 4 GP, 251:07, 2.39 GAA/.922 sv% (2 GP, 127:06, 2.36 GAA/.938 sv% HE)

UNH:
Matt DiGirolamo (2-1-2) — 5 GP, 309:22, 3.30 GAA/.907 sv% (1 GP, 64:40, 1.86 GAA/.949 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (8 games) — 18 goals for (2.25/gm), 33 goals against (4.12/gm). Power play 6/43 (14.0%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 25/32 (78.1%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (6 games) — 12 goals for (2.00/gm), 27 goals against (4.50/gm). Power play 5/31 (16.1%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 20/23 (87.0%, 0 SHGF)

Vermont:
Overall (4 games) — 8 goals for (2.00/gm), 11 goals against (2.75/gm). Power play 3/22 (13.6%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 11/15 (73.3%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (2 games) — 4 goals for (2.00/gm), 5 goals against (2.50/gm). Power play 2/12 (16.7%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 8/11 (72.7%, 1 SHGF)

UNH:
Overall (5 games) — 21 goals for (4.20/gm), 18 goals against (3.60/gm). Power play 5/26 (19.2%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 18/24 (75.0%, 2 SHGF)
Hockey East (1 game) — 2 goals for (2.00/gm), 2 goals against (2.00/gm). Power play 1/6 (16.7%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 3/3 (100.0%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
Well this is a difficult weekend to figure out because of one thing: sample size.

We know very little about these two opponents because they don’t share many common opponents with teams Lowell’s faced. And, in Vermont’s case, the one they have wasn’t under circumstances that were, shall we say, ideal.

Let’s start with UNH, by far the easier of the two games to call a loss right here on Thursday night. You can’t look at much of what they’ve done through their first five games, defensively at least, and say, “This is a team that’s going to stop Lowell from scoring.” Not that we don’t expect them to on Saturday, but 18 goals against in five games is approaching Lowellish levels of questionable goaltending (especially given Matt DiGirolamo is most famous for getting bombed out by Lowell back in November 2008 to the tune of a Boulangerian eight goals on 35 shots).

But on the other hand, there’s that offense. Nine goals in two games at Miami. Seven in one at Cornell. These aren’t exactly teams known for poor defense. And what’s more troubling is that everyone’s scoring. Seven guys have two goals or more in five games. Compare that with Lowell’s five through eight games, one of which (Scott Campbell) likely won’t play this weekend. This could be bad news, yes indeed.

But that Vermont game? Well who the hell knows? Granted they’ve played half the games, but the Catamounts are also without a win through four games this season despite having played all their contests at home. Sure, they held Maine to three goals where Lowell surrendered eight, but the circumstances in the latter case were not exactly the most fair (if you want to consider that an excuse, which it’s not).

But there’s little from Vermont that should give you pause. Without Wahs Stacey, they have no offense to speak of. Their defense isn’t spectacular. And their penalty kill is almost as bad as their power play. In theory, Lowell, at home, can give the Catamounts more than they can handle. There were periods where they straight-up carried play against BC and that Saturday game at BU was not to be ignored.

But at the same time, we also wouldn’t be surprised to see things get ugly in a hurry. After all, Boulanger might start.

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