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Weekend preview: Keep your wounds green

February 2, 2012

The Lowell River Hawks (16-7-0, 11-6-0 HE) vs. the Vermont Catamounts (5-19-1, 2-15-1 HE)

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

Lowell is fifth in Hockey East with 22 points from 17 games. Vermont is last in Hockey East with five points from 18 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 5-2 vs. Amherst, 4-2 at Amherst, 0-1 at Providence.
Vermont — 2-4 vs. Northeastern, 3-8 vs. Northeastern, 3-4 at Amherst.

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Vermont 13-14-5, all-time.

Season series
Lowell inexplicably lost to Vermont 3-2 in overtime in the first game back from break, albeit in Burlington.

Top scorers
Lowell:
David Vallorani — 23 GP, 9-13-22 (17 GP, 6-11-17 HE)
Scott Wilson — 22, 11-10-21 (16, 8-6-14)
Matt Ferreira — 22, 8-13-21 (16, 6-8-14)
Riley Wetmore — 23, 7-14-21 (17, 4-9-13)
Derek Arnold — 23, 12-8-20 (17, 9-5-14)

Vermont:
Sebastian Stålberg — 25 GP, 9-16-25 (18 GP, 5-11-16 HE)
Kyle Reynolds — 25, 9-9-18 (18, 7-6-13)
Drew MacKenzie — 23, 6-11-17 (16, 4-9-13)
Nick Bruneteau — 25, 1-13-14 (18, 0-9-9)
Colin Markison — 25, 5-7-12 (18, 3-5-8)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (15-4-0) — 17 GP, 1,154:50, 1.82 GAA/.935 sv% (15 GP, 901:49, 1.93/.933 HE)

Vermont:
Rob Madore (4-14-1) — 12 GP, 1,130:23, 3.77 GAA/.873 sv% (14 GP, 801:50, 3.82/.870 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (23 games) — 80 goals for (3.48/gm), 53 goals against (2.30/gm). Power play 24/120 (20.0%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 70/84 (83.3%, 3 SHGF)
Hockey East (17 games) — 56 goals for (3.29/gm), 42 goals against (2.47/gm). Power play 17/84 (20.2%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 51/61 (83.6%, 2 SHGF)

Vermont:
Overall (25 games) — 59 goals for (2.36/gm), 102 goals against (4.08/gm). Power play 24/142 (16.9%, 5 SHGA), penalty kill 66/96 (68.8%, 3 SHGF)
Hockey East (18 games) — 40 goals for (2.22/gm), 76 goals against (4.22/gm). Power play 17/108 (15.7%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 48/73 (65.8%, 3 SHGF)

Outlook
We said last time that Lowell should eviscerate Vermont, but they went up to Burlington, took their foot off the gas after 30 dominant minutes and ultimately lost in overtime. That loss was arguably more humiliating than the one to UConn this year, or would be if such a loss took place. Blowing a 2-0 lead to a team this bad, regardless of venue or palliating circumstance, is not excusable. We very much fear that whatever happens to Lowell standings-wise at the end of the year, it will have found itself in a better position had it won that game, or the loss in Providence.

Of course, mulling over past mistakes has led many a man down a dark path, and the River Hawks can ill afford to look ruefully at that particular loss, even if it’s one of just two the Catamounts have handed Hockey East opponents this year. Instead, they must, understandably, focus on humiliating their foes in two games, both of which are played in Lowell.

The number of points Lowell can afford to drop this weekend, as in the previous weekend and the one before that, is zero. Four points must be the goal, and cavernous goal differentials in these two games must go part and parcel with that. Lowell is so much better than Vermont that these games may as well not be played, but we said that last time as well, and we feel Lowell likely entered the game with the same attitude. Look where it got them.

The good news is that just one team has played Lowell and beaten more than once despite seven getting the chance, and no team yet this season has managed to sneak past Doug Carr more than once. And the River Hawks, having been shamed by this vastly inferior team less than a month ago, possess every reason to want blood on the ice and dripping slowly down the glass, as well as the capability to put it there.

We want two gigantic wins, and nothing less is acceptable.

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