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Weekend preview: Creeping terror

November 15, 2012

The Lowell River Hawks (2-4-1, 1-3-1 ) vs. the No. 5 New Hampshire Wildcats (6-1-1, 4-1-1 HE) and the UMass Amherst Minutemen (3-4-0, 2-4-0 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.
7 p.m. Sunday at Mullins Center, Amherst, Mass.

Lowell is ninth in Hockey East with three points from five games, UNH is second with nine points from six games, and Amherst is tied for seventh with four points from six games.

Last three games
Lowell  — 3-4 vs. Maine, 2-1 vs. Maine, 3-6 at BC.
UNH — 4-0 vs. Vermont, 4-0 at Maine, 1-2 at Amherst (ot).
Amherst — 4-0 vs. Providence, 2-3 at BC, 2-1 vs. UNH (ot).

Prior meetings
Lowell trails UNH 32-55-15 and leads Amherst 34-24-6, all-time.

Season series
Lowell hasn’t played either of these teams this season. Last year, it went 2-1 against UNH and swept Amherst.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Josh Holmstrom — 7 GP, 3-2-5 (5 GP, 2-1-3 HE)
Joe Pendenza — 7, 2-2-4 (5, 1-2-3)
Derek Arnold — 7, 2-2-4 (5, 2-1-3)
Chad Ruhwedel — 7, 0-4-4 (5, 0-3-3)
AJ White — 7, 0-3-3 (4, 0-2-2)

UNH:
Kevin Goumas — 8 GP, 1-9-10 (6 GP, 1-7-8 HE)
Austin Block — 8, 7-1-8 (6, 5-1-6)
Trevor van Riemsdyk — 8, 3-5-8 (6, 1-4-5)
Connor Hardowa — 8, 0-8-8 (6, 0-4-4)
John Henrion — 8, 3-2-5 (6, 2-1-3)

Amherst:
Branden Gracel — 7 GP, 3-2-5 (6 GP, 2-1-3 HE)
Troy Power — 6, 2-3-5 (5, 2-3-5)
Steve Guzzo — 7, 2-3-5 (6, 1-2-3)
Conor Sheary — 7, 1-4-5 (6, 1-4-5)
Rocco Carzo — 7, 3-1-4 (6, 3-1-4)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (2-3-1) — 7 GP, 372:45, 2.25 GAA/.911 sv% (5 GP, 303:09, 2.57 GAA/.896 sv% HE)
Connor Hellebuyck (0-1-0) — 1, 50:14, 5.97/.821

UNH:
Casey DeSmith (6-1-1) — 6 GP, 486:51, 1.36 GAA/.953 sv% (6 GP, 367:00, 0.98 GAA/.968 sv% HE)

Amherst:
Kevin Boyle (3-2-0) — 5 GP, 301:20, 1.59 GAA/.940 sv% (4 GP, 214:20, 1.74 GAA/.936 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (7 games) — 13 goals for (1.86/gm), 19 goals against (2.71/gm). Power play 4/27 (14.8%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 17/23 (73.9%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (7 games) — 9 goals for (1.80/gm), 13 goals against (2.60/gm). Power play 3/23 (13.0%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 13/17 (76.5%, 0 SHGF)

UNH:
Overall (8 games) — 26 goals for (3.25/gm), 11 goals against (1.38/gm). Power play 7/36 (19.4%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 27/29 (93.1%, 2 SHGF)
Hockey East (6 games) — 17 goals for (2.83/gm), 6 goals against (1.00/gm). Power play 5/26 (19.2%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 18/19 (94.7%, 1 SHGF)

Amherst:
Overall (7 games) — 20 goals for (2.86/gm), 18 goals against (2.57/gm). Power play 8/36 (25.0%, o SHGA), penalty kill 25/30 (83.3%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (6 games) — 16 goals for (2.67/gm), 17 goals against (2.83/gm). Power play 6/26 (23.1%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 18/22 (81.8%, 1 SHGF)

Outlook
That sense of dread you very well should be feeling at this point is not unreasonable. Given the way in which the team struggled against Maine twice last weekend, and twice against BC the weekend before that, and against Vermont in the season opener, and against Denver the week after — perhaps it was quicker to say, “against everyone but Colorado College” — there’s very little reason to believe that the River Hawks can handle what UNH seem primed to throw at them on Friday. Apart from the fact that they seem to only be okay on the road (they’re 1-1-1 with the loss and draw coming in overtime to Amherst and Northeastern, respectively) there’s no reason they shouldn’t gut Lowell like dying fish. They’ve won both of their last two games 4-0, and allowed just six goals in six Hockey East games. Lowell nearly gave up that many to Maine last weekend.

More awful news: Their top goalscorer has one fewer power play goal than the entire Lowell team combined. And their goalie’s GAA in-league is sub-1. Neither of those things bode well for a team that can’t stop the bleeding on PKs, and an offense that couldn’t put more than five past a Maine defense that was conceding something like three and a half goals a night. Further, while Lowell has continued its infuriating tradition of playing down to even the lowliest opponents, it has likewise shown of last year’s ability to rise to meet the challenges presented by the best. UNH, silly though it may have seemed to say so at the beginning of the season, falls into the latter category, and as such we fully expect it to leave the Tsongas Center ice looking like the pass at Thermopylae.

Sunday’s a bit more difficult to figure. Amherst is and seems as though it will continue to be Amherst, as evidenced by its melting down hilariously against BC at home, it should also be noted that its losses in-league this season have been against BC and BU twice each, and that’s it. Only having two wins from six isn’t good, obviously, but those aren’t two opponents they should have reasonably expected points against, rather than, say, the likes of Maine and Vermont, just to pick two completely and totally at random. They also beat UNH on the same ice Lowell will visit on Sunday.

The point is that nothing here is guaranteed to Lowell, except that getting four points will likely be impossible. If you’d told us that even a month ago we probably wouldn’t have believed you, but circumstances and our attitudes toward this team’s capabilities have obviously changed a great deal in that time. We expect nothing at this point, and therefore cannot be disappointed. Should be a fun weekend.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Gainzo permalink
    November 15, 2012 6:53 pm

    Lowell is getting 2 points on Friday night.

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