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Weekend preview: Who dares not lose?

November 8, 2012

The No. 17 Lowell River Hawks (1-3-1, 0-2-1 ) vs. the Maine Black Bears (1-8-0, 0-4-0 HE)

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

Lowell is ninth in Hockey East with one point from three games, Maine is last with no points from four games.

Last three games
Lowell  — 3-6 at BC, 0-1 vs. BC, 3-1 at Colorado College.
Maine — 0-4 vs. UNH, 2-4 vs. BC, 0-3 at Providence.

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Maine 31-75-3, all-time.

Season series
Lowell went 2-1 against Maine, sweeping a weekend in Orono early on but losing 2-1 at home late in the year.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Josh Holmstrom — 5 GP, 2-2-4 (3 GP, 1-1-2 HE)
Derek Arnold — 5, 1-1-2 (3, 1-0-1)
Ryan McGrath — 5, 1-1-2 (3, 0-1-1)
Chad Ruhwedel — 5, 0-2-2 (3, 0-1-1)
Michael Colantone — 2, 1-0-1 (2, 1-0-0)

Maine:
Joey Diamond — 9 GP, 1-3-4 (4 GP, 0-1-1 HE)
Connor Leen — 9, 2-1-3 (4, 2-0-2)
Stu Higgins — 9, 1-2-3 (4, 0-1-1)
Devin Shore — 9, 0-3-3 (4, 0-1-1)
Will Merchant — 8, 1-1-2 (1-0-1)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (1-2-1) — 5 GP, 253:18, 2.13 GAA/.919 sv% (3 GP, 183:42, 2.61 GAA/.897 sv% HE)
Connor Hellebuyck (0-1-0) — 1, 50:14, 5.97/.821

Maine:
Dan Sullivan (0-6-0) — 6 GP, 305:36, 3.34 GAA/.898 sv% (2 GP, 120:00, 3.50 GAA/.920 sv% HE)
Martin Ouellette (0-2-0) — 2, 117:39, 3.06/878 (same HE)
Matt Morris (1-0-0) — 3, 112:20, 3.20/.842

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (5 games) — 8 goal for (1.60/gm), 14 goal against (2.80/gm). Power play 3/19 (15.8%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 11/16 (68.8%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (3 games) — 4 goal for (1.33/gm), 8 goal against (2.67/gm). Power play 2/15 (13.3%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 7/10 (70.0%, 0 SHGF)

Maine:
Overall (9 games) — 10 goals for (1.11/gm), 30 goals against (3.33/gm). Power play 1/44 (2.3%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 39/48 (81.2%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (1 game) — 4 goal for (1.00/gm), 14 goal against (3.50/gm). Power play 1/18 (5.6%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 20/26 (76.9%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
This is very much a case of both teams entering with mountains to prove, one in which we think there is a clear division between which is good and which is bad, and yet, we are not at all looking forward to these games.

Certainly that ugly 6-3 loss at Boston College nearly two weeks ago now has sapped what belief we have that this Lowell team, which scored one goal in two home games, isn’t prone to bouts of bad behavior, and therefore can successfully avoid getting in its own way. The thing with this series is that Maine in many ways seems a cure for Lowell’s ills over the first five games of the season.

Lowell bled goals two Sundays ago? Maine doesn’t score any. Lowell can’t kill a penalty? Maine has one power play goal in 44 chances. Lowell’s offense can’t get its feet moving? Maine concedes three-plus goals and gives up 28 shots every night. Lowell makes other goalies look good? Maine’s netminders have a combined save percentage of .882. Lowell gives up too many high-quality looks? Maine’s shooting percentage is 3.33.

On paper, this looks so winnable it’s scary, and could be the four points Lowell needs to catapult back into the thick of Hockey East. But at the same time, Maine has, near as we can tell, never once started out 1-8-0 and it seems unlikely that even the very worst team in that program’s spotty history is incapable of being this bad forever. Hell, their one win came against Army, and it was by a single goal. Say what you want about the impact of losing Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn, no one thought they’d be this bad, and everything has gotten much, much worse.

Problematically, there are also a lot of similarities between these teams. There’s only one Black Bear and River Hawk with multiple goals, the expected top performers for each have simply not shown up for the most part, and so forth.

As much of a bummer as this is to say, we wouldn’t be shocked by any results this weekend — talk about a complete lack of optimism — but we believe the River Hawks have the power to pummel this very bad, very broken Maine team. We just hope we’re right.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Monty permalink
    November 9, 2012 5:58 am

    I hate feeling this way, but I agree with you completely. I’m petrified of this series, because it’s two games Lowell SHOULD win. And I’m always nervous about those types of games (see UVM).

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