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USCHOmbudsman: I bought a suit, you seen it

March 5, 2008

Seeing as Hockey East closes out the regular season this weekend, we now feel (slightly) more comfortable in passing judgments on the 2007-08 season.

UMass, for example, was as bad as we said they would be. The line to offer up apologies and tribute cakes forms to the left. We eagerly await your hastily thrown-together mea culpas.

UNH is just head and shoulders above the rest of Hockey East, but the way things have been this season, once it comes down to the single-elimination rounds, anything is possible. BC has hit a wall, or at least goalie John Muse has. The rumors of BU’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, and the Terriers are playing as well as anybody. We still don’t understand how Providence went 0-2-1 against Merrimack, but the Friars should have clinched home ice by now. Merrimack… ehhh. Brathwaite is good. Northeastern’s going to leave a big hole in the ground when they finally hit unforgiving Earth. Vermont very well could achieve home ice this season, and we, as Lowell fans, apologize to the rest of the Hockey East. That’s our bad.

Now we come to Maine and Lowell. In any other year, ending the season with two games in Orono is enough to make us hate hockey and wish we were dead. But this season is unique. In the past, Alfond Arena has been more than third-rate dressing rooms and gap-toothed fans to the River Hawks. It’s a literal house of horrors; a nightmare asylum where even the mere hope of victory has long ago been erased as a possibility.

So, what happens when you take that universal truth and add in the fact that Maine, to be frank, sucks? One Lowell fan offered up a shocking prediction that got the ball rolling:

This probably ends with a split, but I don’t see any reason why Lowell can’t sweep.

Whoa! Slow down, chief. The last time Lowell swept up in Orono was… well a long time ago. (Read: Feb. 8-9, 1985.)

Predictably Maine fans, despite the fact that their team is fighting to make the eighth seed in the Hockey East playoffs, jumped in to defend the blundering Black Bears. The notion that Lowell is better than the Black Bears is something that the Alfond faithful cannot comprehend, results be damned.

BlackBear8 offers up this scintillating response:

Gettin pretty cocky. 7th place finishes will do that. I don’t see any reason Maine can’t sweep.

This is the kind of rhetoric we would expect had the prediction been made by a team above Lowell in the standings. Which Maine, of course, is not.

BlackBear8 also brought this up (breakups ours):

I think this is a much different Maine team than UML played in both games. Maine finally has a healthy team and a goalie who is playing very well.

Yeah, because health is the problem when you lose 9-2 on aggregate.

I think Maine is coming together finally and unfortunately it might be a little late.

Might be.

I would expect a much different Maine team this weekend, with much more on the line. And it is at the Alfond. Regardless of how poorly UML has played there in the past, the fact that this will be the last weekend for the seniors should provide an additional spark. No this team isn’t as talented as past years …

You don’t say.

… but the last month has shown that they can compete with anyone in the league.

Yeah, a 3-7 month is where champions are born.

I expect a great game on Friday night.

We’ll give you that.

Of course, we must acknowledge that there is a plethora of mitigating factors going into this weekend. Lowell has a playoff spot locked up, while the Black Bears are fighting tooth and nail for a date with UNH (good luck with that). However, Lowell still has a sliver of hope for a home playoff spot, and the River Hawks are going to be out to prove they can beat Maine where it counts.

Any other year, we’d have chocked these two games up in the L column and prepared to face the number two seed.

But this is not any other year. Maine stinks on ice this year.

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