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Weekend preview: Jerry Lundegaard wanted Gopher tickets

January 24, 2008

No. 15 UMass Lowell River Hawks (11-6-4, 6-6-4 Hockey East) vs. No. 19 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (8-8-6, 6-7-2 WCHA)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Arena – Referee John Gravallese; Linesmen Chris Aughe, Christopher Millea
7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Arena – Officials TBA

All-time head to head: UMD leads 7-2-1

Lowell is fourth in Hockey East with 16 points from 16 games. Duluth is fourth in the WCHA with 17 points from 18 games.

Last three games
Lowell : 3-1 vs. UMass, 4-5 vs. BC, 3-2 (ot) vs. Providence
Duluth: 1-2 vs. Minnesota, 1-1 (ot) vs. Minnesota, 2-2 (ot) vs. Minnesota State

Prior meetings
Lowell traveled to Duluth to start the season last year. Lowell held its own in the season opener, drawing the Bulldogs 3-3. Mark Roebothan scored for Lowell, Jeremy Dehner had a pair of helpers, and both Jeremy Hall and Jason Tejchma netted a goal and an assist. Now-departed Matt Niskanen and Mason Raymond led the Bulldogs with two and three points, respectively.

The following night, Lowell got its doors blown off 7-3. Duluth was 4 for 7 on the power play, putting all seven goals past Carter Hutton, who made 32 saves. Hall, Tejchma and Roebothan all had two points. Josh Meyers and MacGregor Sharp (great name, by the way) led Duluth with two goals apiece.

Season series
Lowell and Duluth have not met this season.

Top Scorers
Lowell:
Mark Roebothan – 21 GP, 11-8-19 (16 GP, 9-4-13 HE)
Kory Falite – 21, 9-7-16 (16, 8-5-13 HE)
Mike Potacco (injured) – 19, 6-10-16 (14, 3-9-12 HE)
Ben Holmstrom – 21, 2-13-15 (16, 1-11-12 HE)
Scott Campbell – 21, 6-8-14 (16, 4-6-10 HE)

Duluth:
Jason Garrison – 22 GP, 5-9-14 (18, 4-8-12 WCHA)
Nick Kemp – 22, 7-6-13 (18, 5-4-9 WCHA)
Josh Meyers – 22, 5-8-13 (18, 4-6-10 WCHA)
Matt McKnight – 22, 5-7-12 (18, 5-5-10 WCHA)
MacGregor Sharp – 22, 5-7-12 (18, 3-4-7 WCHA)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (3-3-2) – 8 GP, 488:28 minutes, 1.97 GAA/.929 sv% (6 GP, 368:28, 2.44 GAA/.918 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (7-3-2) – 12, 731:27, 2.38/.922 (10, 6111:32, 2.55/.920 HE)

Duluth:
Alex Stalock (8-8-6) – 22 GP, 1,336:08 minutes, 2.34 GAA/.914 sv% (18 GP, 1,091:59, 2.47 GAA/.912 sv% WCHA)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (21 games), 66 goals for (3.14/g), 48 against (2.29/g). Power play 14/88 (15.9%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 74/83 (89.2%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (16 games), 46 goals for (2.88/g), 43 against (2.69/g). Power play 10/68 (14.7%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 49/57 (86.0%, 0 SHGF)

Duluth:
Overall (22 games), 53 goals for (2.41/g), 55 against (2.50/g). Power play 11/98 (11.2%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 91/101 (90.1%, 4 SHGF)
WCHA (18 games), 42 goals for (2.33/g), 48 against (2.67/g). Power play 8/80 (10.0%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 72/80 (90%, 4 SHGF)

Outlook:
This weekend’s matchup, just from a cursory glance at the numbers, looks like it will be contested between two remarkably similar teams.

Duluth/Lowell comes in fourth in the WCHA/Hockey East, with about a league point earned per game, but more than a little behind the three teams in front of them. Their power play is just slightly better than okay, and their penalty kill is one of the best in the nation. Their strong team defense is backstopped by a (pair of) goalie(s) that has earned a sub-2.50 goals-against average and a .910+ save percentage.

See what we mean?

Where the teams vary slightly, though, is on offense. Duluth is at .500, and below it in-league, because the Bulldog offense simply isn’t the machine it was when last Lowell saw it. Suffice it to say, with the Duluth power play running at just 10 percent, it’s incredibly unlikely that Lowell will be victimized by seven power play goals on 14 chances. But without NHL-quality players like Mason Raymond (now with Vancouver) and Matt Niskanen (Dallas) on the team, any offense is bound to take a hit.

Lowell, on the other hand, has seen Kory Falite and Ben Holmstrom pick up the slack left when Mike Potacco went down with his shoulder injury. The pair combined for two goals and six assists in two games last weekend. This is not to say, however, that Potacco’s former linemates, Mark Roebothan and Scott Campbell, aren’t perfectly capable of producing alongside Chris Auger, but the instant, undeniable chemistry of the CPR Line is sorely missed already.

Given how similar these teams are, it’s hard not to envision a split between the teams for the Tsongas Arena’s 10th birthday (how time flies), but Lowell’s offense is one of the best in Hockey East, while Duluth’s is one of the worst in the WCHA. With that in mind, we — shockingly — like Lowell to win and tie.

Amazing how much confience we have all of a sudden against the No. 19 team in the country.

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