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Weekend in review: Who saw this coming?

February 18, 2008

Given that we figured Lowell had little chance to secure much more than a point this weekend while BU and Vermont, both just one point ahead of Lowell in the Hockey East standings on Friday, hosted the two worst teams in the league, we’re pretty happy with how things shook out this weekend.

Lowell’s surprise win on Friday at the Heights will certainly help a considerable amount down the stretch. Most had the weekend pegged as a lost cause, while guaranteeing Terrier and Catamount sweeps (both of which happened). But instead of being five points down and more or less out of home ice contention, Lowell is just three points back of BU and UVM, and four back of home ice. How fortuitous.

Lowell couldn’t have expected help from the hapless Warriors and Black Bears, and certainly not on the road, so to receive none was merely disappointing rather than shocking. Providence earned one point against UNH (a 1-1 tie in Providence on Friday), so that was helpful as well. UMass taking two points from Northeastern? Well, we didn’t see that one coming.

So Lowell’s standing is better than we hoped for. While it certainly doesn’t guarantee a shot at home ice, it doesn’t preclude it either. Lowell’s remaining schedule (two vs. UVM, a home-and-home with Northeastern, and two at Maine) doesn’t exactly strike fear into our hearts because with Friday’s win, Lowell proved it can play with anyone in Hockey East.

The River Hawks have now lost just two season series this year, and while BU is certainly not the best team to drop a pair to, losing twice to Boston College doesn’t hurt so badly. We are largely unconcerned about playing two with the Catamounts, who most concede were outplayed in their 3-2 home win a few weeks ago.

We’re also not especially worried about two more with Northeastern, which has skidded along embarrassingly for much of the season’s second half. Honestly, who loses to UMass?

The only thing we’re experiencing trepidation over is two at Alfond to close out the season. Certainly Maine isn’t a team that would worry us under normal circumstances this year, but given how the last few weeks have gone, and given that the games will be played in Orono, we have to admit we’re nervous.

Sure, the way things shake out, the last weekend might not matter, but that seems nearly impossible. Not to be too Belichickian, but Lowell has to take it one game at a time. We’ll do the same, but we’ll be doing some of that scoreboard watching too.

Our Weekly Awards
Player of the Week:
Joe Whitney, Boston College (freshman forward) – Usually, we wouldn’t give this award to a freshman (that’s what Rookie of the Week is for), nor would we give it to someone who didn’t score a single goal in two games. Whitney going 0-1-1 on Friday didn’t help his cause, but his performance on Saturday sure did. Whitney almost singlehandedly eviscerated the River Hawk defense to the tune of four assists to salvage a split. That’s some good work, kid.
(Honorable mention: Mike Rajda, UNH)

Rookie of the Week:
Danny Dries, New Hampsire (freshman forward) – Dries got a crack at the first line this weekend alongside Rajda and Matt Fornataro and acquitted himself well. Dries scored UNH’s only goal on Friday in the Wildcats’ 1-1 draw with Providence, and followed that up with three assists the next night. It’s tough to argue with that.
(Honorable mention: Viktor Stålberg, Vermont; Colin Wilson, BU)

Ham-n-Eggers of the Weak:
Maine and BU – Come on. Two traditional Hockey East powers playing for big stakes. Maine needed points to climb back into playoff contention, BU needed points to keep pace with the pack. BU got the points, but did so as though the four points were somehow poisonous. The plodding pace of both games, coupled with both teams’ ineptitude in the offensive end made for two yawn-inducing contests. We managed to catch the third period and overtime of the Friday game on NESN and we were frankly embarrassed for Hockey East. This, surely, was not the product they wanted on television representing the league. What a joke.

Permanent Tomato Cans:
Maine Black Bears (8-15-3, 0-2 this weekend)
Vermont Catamounts (9-10-7, 2-0 this weekend)
UMass Minutemen (11-10-6, 1-1 this weekend)

National Poll

Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Michigan (48) 25- 3-4 998 1
2 North Dakota ( 2) 19- 8-2 952 3
3 New Hampshire* 19- 7-2 876 4
4 Colorado College 21- 8-1 843 5
5 Miami 25- 6-1 828 2
6 Michigan State 20- 8-5 715 8
7 Boston College* 16- 7-7 685 7
8 Denver 19-10-1 663 6
9 Notre Dame 21-10-3 557 9
10 Wisconsin 14-12-6 504 10
11 Minnesota State 16-11-4 484 13
12 Clarkson 17-10-3 469 11
13 Minnesota-Duluth* 12-10-6 424 12
14 Northeastern* 14-11-3 259 15
14 Providence* 13-11-4 259 14
16 St. Cloud State 14-13-3 255 19
17 Princeton 15-10-0 251 17
18 Mass.-Lowell 13-11-4 139 18
19 Quinnipiac 17- 9-4 116 16
20 Niagara 16- 8-4 62 20
Others Receiving Votes: Minnesota 48, Michigan Tech 24, Harvard 16, Massachusetts* 11, Army 10, Ferris State 10, Cornell* 8, Boston University* 7, Union 7, Nebraska-Omaha 6, Bemidji State 4, Air Force 2, Bowling Green 2, Colgate 2, RIT 2, Yale 2

*Lowell 2007-08 opponent

Hockey East Weekly Awards
Player of the Week: Viktor Stålberg, Vermont
Rookie of the Week: Nick Petrecki, BC; Colin Wilson, BU
Defensive Player of the Week: Kevin Regan, UNH
Honor roll: Brett Bennett, BU; Alex Berry, UMass; Ben Bishop, Maine; Paul Dainton*, UMass; Danny Dries, UNH; Kory Falite, UML; Joe Fallon, UVM; Kyle Kraemer, NU; Pierce Norton, PC; Luke Popko, BU; Mike Rajda, UNH; Rob Ricci, MC; Ben Smith, BC; Colin Vock, UVM; Joe Whitney, BC

Weekend results (home team bolded)
UML 3, BC 1
NU 2, UMass 1
Vermont 4, Merrimack 1
UNH 1, PC 1 (ot)
BU 2, Maine 1 (ot)

BC 5, UML 2
UMass 3, NU 1
UNH 4, PC 3
Vermont 2, Merrimack 1
BU 1, Maine 0 (ot)

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