Loose pucks: Built to last
Three things we’re jacked about:
1) It’s October.
The feeling of going into the rink on Saturday afternoon was just incredible. We were positively giddy sitting there and just waiting for warm-ups to start. The new season is always exciting because you get to see something you have never seen before. Even if you’ve seen the players from last year, you might notice little changes to their game, or even big steps forward. You get to scope out the freshmen and see, to some extent, what’s going to happen with them. You even get to begin to form opinions on new lines and defensive pairings, even if none of it really matters because the game is an exhibition against a team that even Vermont would humiliate.
2) Playing Vermont.
On the subject of Vermont, we want to talk a little bit about what this rivalry, which at this point shouldn’t bother us even slightly, means to Lowell. You’ll remember that things were often contentious between the two squads back when the Catamounts were going to the NCAAs on the regular — a bad time for everyone — and that includes when the River Hawks swept them on their home ice in 2009, and they went on to the Frozen Four through a regional that included the Billerica Mites, Concordia’s women’s team, and Air Force. Since then, the acrimony between the two fanbases has really kept the rivalry alive. Remember that one year in the last three Lowell was bad? Sure, but Vermont has won just nine Hockey East games in the last two years, so who’s laughing now? Vermont sucks. We can’t wait to see Riley Wetmore rip someone’s throat out in the home opener on Friday.
3) Scott Wilson.
We talked earlier about players taking big steps forward. Scott Wilson fits that bill perhaps most of all, at least based on what limited action we saw in the exhibition game. This was a kid who could turn a game on its ear with a dominant shift or period last year, but now he looks like a kid who will make entire games absolute nightmares for his opponents. Granted, this was against a very bad team that gave up more than 100 shots in two games this weekend, so perhaps it’s not the best indicator of what he’ll be able to do against NCAA opposition, but we think what has us convinced was the ease with which the entire game seemed to come to him, and the way in which he imposed his will on it. When he got the puck, he kept it, and the same went for his linemates. Forget Johnny Gaudreau, Scott Wilson is the sophomore who might do some very, very real damage to Hockey East this season.
Two things that have us down in the dumps:
1) A bit of a tease.
While it’s nice to get two home dates in six days, as we are right now, it also kind of sucks that those will be the last home games we see for two weeks. Lowell will go out to the Rockies to pummel Denver and Colorado College the week after, then hosts BC on the 26th. Still, two weeks is a long time to go without live Lowell hockey. (Though, if you think that’s bad, don’t forget Lowell only has seven home games after Christmas.)
So you may (or may not) have noticed that the comment section for our Saturday recap got a little heated, as many readers were not especially pleased with the student section eschewing the traditional, “See ya, stupid!” penalty box chant in favor of “Sit down, bitch!”
We must admit that we were rankled by it as well, though not for the reasons most others seemed to be. Our objection, which we voiced to the bloggers behind the new and unimproved version, is that this chant is already used by Maine and possibly Northeastern. We are all for taunting opponents, obviously, but we like some amount of originality behind it. However, as we were reminded by the students behind the chant in question, other teams’ fans chant the three-letter initials of their schools, do sieve chants, and so forth. Our point was that when there is room for originality, it must be taken, lest the entire league become homogenized and, frankly, boring.
We do not, necessarily, object to the language. We don’t think it’s appropriate for these fans to do the “Bull(blank)” chant after every penalty or even most of them, as they did last season, but only because not every penalty is actually bull(blank). Sometimes, even when the call goes against Lowell, a trip is a trip, or whatever. That said, we can see where many people, particularly women, would be offended by the use of the word “bitch.” Having bad hockey players equated with being women and, by implication, inferior to men, is inherently offensive to 50 percent of the human population, so poor form there. Moreover, many fans would like to see Lowell avoid being lumped into discussions about the crassest and worst fans in Hockey East — their reasoning being that if you can’t be deeply insulting WITHOUT swearing, why even bother? — because those comparisons are usually reserved for students in Amherst and Vermont, and at Northeastern. Under no circumstances do we like Lowell being compared with any of those schools.
College kids are going to be college kids, and they’re going to swear, and there’s really very little you can do about it. Even having kids thrown out for chanting, which a few commenters threatened, is not going to serve as much of a deterrent and will only serve to further alienate the burgeoning fanbase this team is still working very hard to cultivate and maintain.
The “old” fans, which was the pejorative thrown at us as if it were an insult by someone who claimed to be a student (we have no way of verifying) in the comments, need to lighten up to a certain extent, and the students need to do more to engender creativity without ripping off or pissing off other people.
That’s the last thing we’ll say about this publicly: We’re opposed to it, and now you know why. If you wanna talk about it more, email us.
Stat of the Week
Not that this should really come as a surprise to anyone, but Lowell has traditionally been very good in exhibition games. How good? The Chiefs/River Hawks are now 24-5-4 all-time in exhibition games, against opponents from junior and college teams from the U.S., Canada and Russia. In those games, they outscored opponents a staggering 158-90. Its only loss in the last 12 years came in 2000, when a Tim Whitehead-coached team (who else?) lost to Ottawa, 4-3.
Lowell’s most common exhibition opponent? Concordia, against which they have played six times, winning five and drawing once. One of those wins, oddly, was by forfeit. Other exhibition opponents you might be interested in hearing about are BC twice (1-1 behind a 6-2 loss and 10-0 win), UNH twice (2-0, with wins of 7-3 and 6-4), Northeastern once (a 5-5 tie), and Merrimack once (a 5-0 win).
Only two teams have winning records against Lowell in exhibition games all-time, and it seems the River Hawks will never have the chance to even the series. Losses of 3-1 to Sokol-Kiev in 1985 and 8-2 to Spartak in 1986 will likely go unavenged forever. Lousy commies.
Can’t we all just get along?
Let’s all be buds at the game on Friday. Beers on the old guys. (Not us.)