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January 11, 2008

No. 13 UMass Lowell Riverhawks (9-4-4, 4-4-4 HE) vs. Providence College Friars (7-7-2, 4-3-1 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Schneider Arena – Referee John Gravallese; linesmen Kevin Keenan & Chris Aughe
4 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Arena – Officials TBA

All-time head to head: Providence leads 43-32-9

Lowell is tied for third in Hockey East with 12 points from 12 games. Providence is fourth in Hockey East with 10 points from nine games.

Last three games
Lowell: 6-0 vs. Maine (neutral site), 3-2 vs. Cornell (neutral site), 4-1 vs. Bentley (home)
Providence: 5-3 vs. No. 5 Michigan State (neutral site), 0-6 vs. No. 1 Michigan (neutral site), 5-2 vs. Union (home)

Prior meetings
Lowell tied Providence 2-2 at Schneider Arena on 11/16/07. Mark Roebothan and Patrick Cey scored for Lowell, and Pierce Norton scored twice for PC. Cey’s score was the GTG.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Mark Roebothan – 17 GP, 9-6-15 (12 GP, 7-2-9 HE)
Mike Potacco – 17, 5-8-13 (12, 2-7-9 HE)
Ben Holmstrom – 17, 2-10-12 (12 GP, 1-8-9 HE)
Chris Auger – 17, 4-8-12 (12, 2-5-7 HE)
Kory Falite – 17, 5-6-11 (12, 5-3-8 HE)

Providence:
Jon Rheault – 16 GP, 10-8-18 (9 GP, 5-4-9 HE)
Matt Taormina – 16, 5-12-17 (9, 5-6-11 HE)
Pierce Norton – 16, 8-6-14 (9, 6-4-10 HE)
Kyle Laughlin – 16, 7-6-13 (9, 4-4-8 HE)
Cody Wild – 12, 3-9-12 (6, 1-4-5 HE)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (3-1-2) – 6 GP, 369:38 minutes, 1.14 GAA/.956 sv% (4 GP, 249:38, 1.44 GAA/.949 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (5-3-2) – 10, 606:29, 2.57/.914 (8, 486:34, 2.84/.910 HE)

Providence:
Tyler Sims (6-6-1) – 13 GP, 765:32 minutes, 2.51 GAA/.904 sv% (6 GP, 1.95 GAA/.927 sv % HE)
Chris Mannix (1-1-1) – 4 GP, 204:06, 2.65/.911 (3, 2.61/.915 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (17 games), 53 goals for (3.12/g), 36 against (2.12/g). Power play 10/71 (14.1%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 63/70 (90.0%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (12 games), 33 goals for (2.75/g), 31 against (2.58/g). Power play 6/51 (11.8%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 38/44 (86.4%, 0 SHGF)

Providence:
Overall (16 games), 50 goals for (3.12/g), 44 against (2.75/g). Power play 16/71 (22.5%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 58/67 (86.6, 6 SHGF)
Hockey East (9 games), 27 goals for (3.00/g), 21 against (2.33/g). Power play 9/34 (26.5%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 33/37 (89.2%, 3 SHGF)

Outlook
This series is a big one for Lowell for a number of reasons.

First, this is the ‘Hawks first Hockey East series since the break, and it’s against a team with which they’ll be competing for playoff position all year long. The River Hawks need to clear some space between themselves and the field below them as soon as possible, and this starts an important stretch of Hockey East games.

Second, the ‘Hawks get a few players, like Steve Capraro and Ian Schaser, back from injury. They’ve been skating for a while, but now they’re game-ready. Lowell will finally begin to approach being 100 percent healthy for the first time this season.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, Lowell and Providence are very similar teams. Both are good defensively, and both struggle at times to score goals. Both have penalty kills that operate well above average, and Providence’s in-league special teams units are both tops in Hockey East.

Fortunately for Lowell, they might only have to really beat Providence one night this weekend, if this season’s prior results are any indicator. Providence has been maddeningly hot and cold all season, knocking off teams like the defending national champions, then-No. 5 Michigan State and taking three points from now-No. 5 UMass in a weekend, then dropping gimmes to Holy Cross, to whom they conceded six(!) goals.

To give you an idea of how well-matched Lowell and Providence are, the ‘Hawks are 3-3-3 against common opponents, while Providence is 3-3-1. The only time the teams met so far this year, they skated to a 2-2 at Schneider Arena.

This is a statement weekend for Lowell. Four points here would go a long way toward solidifying Lowell’s position in the league, as well as saying definitively that Lowell is, in fact, for real.

Go ‘Hawks!

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