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Loose pucks: Not that it’s any of our business

January 29, 2008

Three things we can get behind:
1) Lowell’s continued success between the pipes.

Shocking as it may be, Carter Hutton still has the best goals-against average and save percentage in the league. Pretty surprising, given the number of quality goaltenders across Hockey East, and that Hutton has given up ten goals in his last three games. Despite that, the numbers sit at gaudy marks of 1.83/.931. If those numbers hold up, they’d both be school records, ahead of Cam McCormick‘s 2001-02 campaign, where he posted 1.88/.920. He may only be a sophomore, but Hutton is the real deal as far as top-flight Hockey East goalies go.

And for how fondly we remember Jimi St. John, who won over the crowd not only with his goaltending but with his chewing gum distribution, Nevin Hamilton is the River Hawks’ best 1a goalie in recent memory. St. John’s 2001-02 heroics were good for a 2.89/.876. Hamilton’s 2.50/.915 is, obviously, an upgrade.

2) Parity.

Sure, UNH and BC look uncatchable once again as the best two teams in the league, but only three points and a few games in hand here and there seperate third-place Providence from seventh-place BU. This is great for Hockey East, and Lowell in particular. As the historical top finisher among non-Big Four schools (look it up), Lowell is certainly going to benefit from the decline of the Maines and BUs of the world.

Lowell is 3-1 all-time in series in which they have faced a higher-seeded non-Big Four team in the Hockey East quarterfinals (though the sixth-seeded ‘Hawks were most recently were swept by No. 3 UMass in 2004 due to Thomas Pock being 29 years old). They beat No. 4 Northeastern in both 1995 and ’98, and bested No. 3 Providence in 1997.

At the current rate with which they earn points, here are the projected Hockey East standings through all 27 league games:

1) UNH, 38.8 pts.
2) BC, 34.9
3) PC, 32.4
4) Northeastern, 28.6
5t) UML, 27
5t) UVM, 27
7) BU, 23.8
8) UMass, 21.9
9) Maine, 19.9
10) Merrimack, 15.2

Somewhat surprisingly, everyone except Vermont would stay exactly where they are in the current standings, and the Catamounts only improve to a tie for fifth instead of holding down sixth all alone. This means games in hand would apparently not have much effect, though this method does not account for teams getting hot (Providence) or cold (UMass, NU). For the record, we’d feel good about Lowell’s chances in three games at Matthews or Schneider.

3) The end of winter break.

Now that break is, at long last, over, Lowell can finally have the full support of the slowly improving student section. Clearly, it’s not the balcony in Orono or Sec. 118 at Harry Agganis Arena, but Sections G and H do remind us (a little) of the fledgling days of Matthews’ Arena Dog House. Now, Lowell fans might not like to hear it, but the Dog House has been called one of the more intimidating student sections in Hockey East, and what they lack in numbers, the Husky faithful more than makes up in enthusiasm.

Sure, the Lowell students have been incredibly lackluster at times this year (we only counted three or four actual chants over two games against Duluth), but there were games the against UNH and BU when that end of the ice was really rocking. Let’s keep it going, kids.

Two things we’d rather that no one at all got behind:
1) Where have you gone, Mike Potacco? The River Hawks turn their lonely eyes to you.

Without you, Lowell has gone a mere 1-3, scoring just nine goals in those games. That’s a pretty big dropoff in production from the 3.05 the ‘Hawks were popping in before you got hurt, lifting the team to a 10-5-4 record.

Who would have thought during Potacco’s freshman year that he would be this big of a difference maker? It’s a testament to his work ethic and continual improvement that the team relies upon him this much, and it’s troubling to see him out for this long as a result. Get well soon. Please.

2) This homestand.

Boy, were we ever wrong in circling this three-plus week stretch on our calendars.

We looked at the thought of six straight home games in the middle of January against largely inferior talent (on paper at least) with mouths watering. The result? Two wins (Providence and UMass), three losses (Duluth x2, BC), and whatever the ‘Hawks can pull out against Maine on Friday. That’s not the way to stay in the picture for an NCAA berth, and the play this weekend was not the way to stay in the picture home ice.

Stat of the Week
We said it yesterday, but it bears repeating:


That is all.

Where’s your Messiah now?
Turns out Paul Dainton* might not be the best goalie in Hockey East. But you already knew that.

The bigger problem: After giving up seven goals on 47 shots to Vermont this weekend, he might not be the best goalie on his own team.

We’ve seen UMass more times than we’re comfortable with this season, but we have actually happened to see the team’s backup goalie, Dan Meyers, in the Minutemen’s 3-2 home loss to UNH.

We’ve got news for you: he might be better. He certainly seemed more poised and steady, and certainly less adventurous than did Almighty Dainton. He also helped UMass knock off the then-No. 12 St. Lawrence Saints back in October before he was sidelined with an injury. In limited time, he’s gone 2-1 with a line of 2.01/.929.

UMass fans should be sending an urgent plea to Don Cahoon (we decided that we cannot, in good conscience, refer to a grown man as “Toot”): sit Dainton* and start Meyers. What’s the worst that could happen? UMass starts losing by five instead of four? Maybe your team won’t get lit up by great Vermont forwards like Wahsontiio Stacey.

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