Sunday thoughts: I’m a River Hawk, get me out of here!
There’s no nice way to say this: Lowell escaped with a 3-2 win over Bentley.
And when you’re putting together the words “Lowell,” “Bentley,” and “escaped,” there normally needs to be a large-scale house fire involved. But the only thing in danger during this game was Lowell’s credibility, which itself looked like it could go up in smoke at any second.
We highlighted a number of dismal stats that showed exactly why Lowell, riding a two-game shutout streak and generally playing pretty well in the last two games, should have rolled over the Falcons like tanks over cardboard boxes, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Things even looked like they would play out that way for the first two shifts or so. Scott Wilson, Riley Wetmore and Adam Chapie combined to keep the puck in the Bentley zone for a solid minute-plus and would have been up 1-0 had Chapie not fanned on a nice centering pass from Wetmore.
But unfortunately, that was probably the best Lowell shift of the game, apart from the ones that produced the decisive two goals in 11 seconds in the third period to salvage some shred of dignity from an otherwise abysmal game.
This was Lowell going back to the habits it demonstrated against, say, Vermont: Outshooting the opponent by a decent enough margin and occasionally controlling play, but not really ever doing anything productive in attack, and conceding baffling chances at the other end. Not long after that first shift, Bentley grabbed the first lead of the game, one which ended up lasting nearly 20 minutes, as Brett Gensler, the kid who now has 27 points in 16 games, was able to softly backhand home a puck out of a brief scramble at the front of the net, propagated by a few strong Bentley shifts in a row. Wetmore, Wilson and Chapie were on the ice for that one, as they were the other Bentley goal, and they were generally, apart from that first shift, the worst players on the ice.
This is disappointing not only because Wilson had previously been setting the world on fire with his scoring, but also because it continues the more or less season-long slump for Wetmore, who has but seven points to his name this season, and three of them came in a hat trick against Amherst. This guy is a senior, and the captain, and he has done little besides typify the team’s struggles in attack, and his routine offensive-zone turnovers yesterday were particularly discouraging. We still think he’ll get to that 100-point mark in his career (he’s just nine away) but we’re also not totally sure of it, and we would have guessed it was a slam dunk coming into the year.
Not that his was the only line to struggle, though. The top power play unit gave up a breakaway, and the second line, on which Ryan McGrath scored two of the team’s three goals, conceded a shorthanded break for penalty shot, which Doug Carr stopped. Fortunately, the first of McGrath’s pair came later on in at that power play, just 42 seconds the middle period. Nonetheless, being tied with or trailing Bentley for the majority of the game is not in any way an enviable position, and they went back to being behind early in the third when Carr was beaten on a clean look by Andrew Gladiuk.
Of course, all of this goes without mentioning that Lowell had a pair of goals waived off in the game, with the first coming at 13:27 of the opening period when McGrath was adjudged to have interfered with the goaltender while he was being mugged by Andrew Fitzstephens. A similar call disallowed another goal in the third period, though this time we were under the impression that the ref decided the goaltender had control of the puck, even though it hit him and dropped immediately to his feet.
The latter decision to go against the River Hawks, though, seemed to spark them. Not long after, Steve Buco and McGrath scored at 15:38 and 15:49 to make a deficit a lead, and despite a Derek Arnold tripping penalty in the dying minutes, the River Hawks were able to hold on for the win. But again, hanging on for the win against Bentley should be viewed only one way: Extremely negative.
Lowell was unimpressive and timid and just plain not good in this game, and only the fact that it was playing a team as bad as Bentley saved it from complete embarrassment. We never believed we’d say something like that. Hell, we can’t believe we’re saying it now.
The time for playing like this is long since over, and the games at Clarkson next weekend are going to be anything other than utter disasters, this team needs to get its head on straight again.