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Saturday thoughts: Just like old times

October 12, 2008

Okay, granted, we weren’t at Colgate for the game. The dulcet tones of Bob Ellis and Jonathan Albert were all we had to convey to us the action from Starr Rink, so you’ll forgive us for not having the most informed of opinions on this particular game.

But from looking at the box score and listening to the game, we ascertained that this was a fairly listless 2-1 loss.

By all accounts, the clear star of the night was Colgate netminder Charles Long, who made 23 saves on 24 shots. Said Blaise MacDonald in the post-game interview: he “played out of his mind.” But that doesn’t help the fact that Carter Hutton gave up two goals (one of them admittedly flukey) on just 16 shots, nor that Lowell was 0-fer on four power plays, or that they couldn’t get through the neutral zone in the third period.

The offense should really have done better than this. Both the Falite-Holmstrom-Worthington and CPR lines put together just six shots. Not acceptable. In fact, many of the shots — 12, in fact — came from the defense. Typically, those aren’t going to be coming from the the high-percentage areas. Six shots on goal total in what should have been a desperate third period, especially with a five-on-three power play, is just bad. Too often did those of us listening to the broadcast hear the words, “that shot blocked,” or, “that shot sails wide.”

MacDonald chalked the problems with the 0-for-4 power play up to miscommunication, adding, “I don’t know what they were thinking about, to be honest with you.” These are high-skill players we’re talking about, and an average of one shot per player on the top two lines isn’t going to fly no matter how tight Colgate’s trap was.

At least Patrick Cey’s goal sounded like a good old-fashioned grind line goal. Shot from the point, crash the net, bang home the rebound. That’s what you want out of the bottom six. Fair play to them.

Meanwhile, the Colgate goals were not exactly the result of outstanding play by the Raiders. The first was a deflected shot that hopped over Hutton (we’d be interested to know how many of those type of goals victimized Lowell last year. We can think of four or five offhand), and the second was, to paraphrase MacDonald, the result of a “lazy backcheck” by the top line. The top line, in fact, was on the ice for both of Colgate’s goals.

By the way, Lowell’s net special teams: .000 (0/4 PP, 0/1 PK). Can’t reiterate that enough.

This is not, of course, to say Lowell didn’t do anything right. The defense was solid as you’d like it to be, allowing only 16 shots, and only giving up one power play in a game is always a good thing (the fact that they scored on it, though, is something else entirely).

Realistically, if the River Hawks can keep most of their opponents at the level they kept Colgate tonight, they’ll be swimming in wins. But since the ‘Hawks ain’t exactly the Boston Bruins (bonus points for getting the reference), the margin of error will, apparently, be slim once again this year. Hockey, we’ll be sure to remind you whenever you like, is about minimizing mistakes more than capitalizing on them. Colgate simply did a better job at that than Lowell tonight.

The loss was the only one by a Hockey East team tonight. Simply unacceptable. Like Lowell, Northeastern, Vermont and Merrimack also played worse opponents, and all three won by two goals against Alaska Anchorage, RPI and Robert Morris, respectively. Elsewhere, UNH beat Wisconsin, BU beat Michigan State and UMass beat NoDak(!?). Even Maine tied UNB 6-6. Great way to get a jump on the OOC competition by everyone else. Not so much for Lowell, which had a very beatable opponent.

And before we forget, big ups to David Vallorani, who picked up his first career point tonight. Many more to come, eh?

Very disappointing loss to open the season. Let’s never open at Colgate again.

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