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Weekend preview: All dogs go to Heaven

February 7, 2008

No. 17 UMass Lowell River Hawks (12-9-4, 7-7-4 Hockey East) vs. the Boston University Terriers (8-14-4, 7-8-3 Hockey East)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Arena – Officials TBA

All-time head-to-head: BU leads UML 55-16-8

Lowell is fifth in Hockey East with 18 points from 18 games, BU is seventh in Hockey East with 17 points from 18 games.

Last three games
Lowell: 2-3 at Vermont, 3-2 vs. Maine, 1-4 vs. Minnesota-Duluth
BU: 3-4 (ot) vs. Boston College (Beanpot), 4-1 vs. Merrimack, 3-5 vs. New Hampshire

Prior Meetings
Lowell blew a two-goal second-period lead, allowing six unanswered goals (five in the third period) in a 7-4 loss at Agganis Arena on Nov. 3. Maury Edwards scored twice to lead the River Hawks. Luke Popko, Ryan Weston, Brian McGuirk, and Zach Cohen all had two points each for BU.

Lowell avenged the earlier loss with a 4-3 come-from-behind win just before break on Dec. 7. BU jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but second-period goals from Todd Bartelson and Scott Campbell evened the game. Ryan Blair’s first collegiate goal put Lowell up for good, and Kory Falite’s insurance marker 16 seconds later ended up as the game-winner thanks to a late goal from Nick Bonino, his second of the night.

Season series
All tied up at 1-1, with each team winning at home.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite – 25 GP, 11-9-20 (18 GP, 10-6-16 HE)
Ben Holmstrom – 25, 3-17-20 (18, 2-14-16 HE)
Mark Roebothan – 25, 11-8-19 (18, 9-4-13 HE)
Mike Potacco (injured) – 19, 6-10-16 (14, 3-9-12 HE)
Jonathan Maniff – 25, 10-4-14 (18, 7-1-8 HE)

Boston University:
Pete MacArthur – 26 GP, 11-20-31 (18 GP, 8-17-25 HE)
Boomer Ewing – 25, 14-16-30 (17, 10-16-26)
Colin Wilson – 24, 8-15-23 (16, 7-13-20)
Chris Higgins – 25, 8-12-20 (18, 8-9-17)
Nick Bonino – 25, 9-8-17 (18, 7-5-12)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (4-5-2) – 11 GP, 666:19 minutes, 1.98 GAA/.924 sv% (8 GP, 487:10, 2.46 GAA/.911 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (7-4-2) – 13, 791:07, 2.50/.915 (10, 6111:32, 2.55/.920 HE)

Boston University:
Brett Bennet (7-8-3) – 19 GP, 1,085:56 minutes, 3.15 GAA/.870 sv% (14 GP, 776:04 minutes, 3.02 GAA/.872 sv% HE)
Karson Gillespie (1-5-1) – 10, 437:19, 3.29/.851 (7, 254:26, 3.07/.859 HE)
Adam Kraus (0-1) – 1, 58:51, 4.08/.852 (same HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (25 games), 72 goals for (2.88/g), 58 against (2.32/g). Power play 15/113 (13.3%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 85/97 (87.6%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (18 games), 51 goals for (2.83/g), 48 against (2.67/g). Power play 11/79 (13.9%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 55/65 (84.6%, 0 SHGF)

Boston University:
Overall (26 games), 88 goals for (3.38/g), 87 against (3.35/g). Power play 28/130 (21.5%, 5 SHGA), penalty kill 92/120 (76.7%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (18 games), 66 goals for (3.67/g), 58 against (3.22/g). Power play 21/92 (22.8%, 5 SHGA), penalty kill 57/74 (77.0%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook:
All games this time of year are big, and we’ve been saying it for weeks.

We had, of course, been hoping for a BU win on Monday so that they’d have bigger things on their mind than some measley Hockey East game. No such luck.

The weekend between Beanpot Mondays is usually easy poaching for teams looking to stay in the playoff hunt, but it appears as though two piddling Hockey East won’t be as simple to bag now. BU should (one would hope) be focused more on their playoff position and the chance to leapfrog the No. 5 team in the conference than a meaningless game with Northeastern on Monday night.

But there’s a problem. BU will be without Matt Gilroy this weekend, and two more after that. The junior defenseman that scouts have been fawning all over since his freshman year will miss the game with a bum ankle. You’d think that would be good news for the River Hawks, but the injury bug has hit Lowell once again.

Mike Potacco‘s iminent return, originally slated for this weekend, will likely not happen. He’s still nursing a separated shoulder from an injury sustained in practice a few weeks ago. In further separated shoulder-related news, Chris Auger picked up one of his own in the second period against Vermont on Sunday. He’ll be out until playoff time in all likelihood. And finally, Steve Capraro had the flu earlier this week and is questionable, though we hear he’ll be good to go tomorrow night.

As far as the teams go, BU might get a different look at Lowell’s goaltending. It’s so happened that Nevin Hamilton started both games against BU, and not faring particularly well in either, though he is 1-1. But the question is whether or not Carter Hutton has usurped the starter role with two solid, if unspectacular performances last weekend. Whichever sophomore gets the start in net, they’re going to see a lot of rubber. BU puts 33.3 shots on goal per game, and scores more than any team in Hockey East (88 goals in 26 games).

However, stats can be misleading. Yes, the Terriers can score, but they can’t stop the puck to save their lives. All three of their goaltenders have sub-.900 save percentages, and BU has allowed almost as many goals (87) as they’ve scored, which, when you’re scoring 3.38 per game, is an incredible feat. BU lives and dies (mostly dies this year) by the slimmest of margins. That’s got to be troubling for Jack Parker and his boys. Parker, though, still believes that BU can somehow win Hockey East, which is such an insane idea that we can’t imagine that he actually believes it.

No one seems to be more down on BU than its diehard fans, which is usually a bad sign. However, the River Hawks are likely to skate its skeleton crew against what one assumes will be a focused Terrier squad. Might be bad news, but we hope for the best. Go ‘Hawks.

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