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Thursday thoughts: Imagine what horrible fate awaits our enemies

October 17, 2008

Here’s how you know Lowell played a perfect game of road hockey: the biggest cheer of the night in the typically lively Munn Ice Arena was because the hometown Red Wings jumped ahead of the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in the second period.

Apart from that, there was to be no cheering for the Spartan faithful. Lowell fought through a nervy first two periods to skate away from its first game at State with a 3-0 victory.

Lowell jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead at 9:43 of the first period thanks to the heads-up neutral zone play of David Vallorani. The freshman picked off a pass and broke open a 3-on-1 the other way. Patrick Cey finished the play off with his second goal in as many games. Heck of a start, especially from a line that likely wouldn’t have picked up many bets to give the team its first two goals of the season six days ago. Vallorani, for what its worth (and again, we’ve not seen any of these games with our own eyes), seems to be everywhere for Lowell, doing everything. UML radio announcer Bob Ellis mentioned between periods that the MSU TV guys were raving about Vallorani’s play. Rightfully so. With his assist on the second goal of the night, Vallorani has three points in his first two college games. We consider that an alright start.

The incredible first-period performance, though, can be traced back to the momentum swing caused by an early penalty kill. With Maury Edwards in the box for hooking just 2:07 into the contest, State could have put an early hurt on Lowell. But instead the Spartans managed two shots, and both were easily saved by Carter Hutton, who picked up the third shutout of his career. It was a tremendous penalty kill, from what we heard, and it injected life into the entire UML bench.

After a tight second period that saw Lowell outshoot the Spartans 10-4, Lowell really started to open the game up in the third. Lowell’s second goal, a tip-in from Scott Campbell on a point shot from Jeremy Dehner at 4:33 of the third period, it was momentous for two of reasons. No. 1, it was Lowell’s first power play goal of the season. This is particularly interesting because the Spartans were 12 for 12 on the PK last weekend. Hurting them that way was vitally important for Lowell and proved that the penalty kill was not quite as impervious as it appeared. No. 2, it doubled a narrow lead and gave State a bigger hole from which it had to dig out. But with Lowell’s outstanding defense, that allowed just 16 shots all night (right in line with that 15.5 they were averaging, no?), there was nothin’ doin’.

Maury Edwards unleashed another his patented bombs on a late power play to make the game academic. Dehner and Kory Falite assisted on that one.

This was, by any measure, a huge win. Just huge. It’s great that Lowell was able to go into such a hostile environment and quiet the crowd so quickly, and to come out with such an impressive, convincing win is even better. The offense, obviously, was everything one could hope for against a guy like Jeff Lerg, who made 27 saves. Two power play goals on seven opportunities is also perfectly acceptable. At the other end, the defense and penalty killing was fantastic. By GameTracker’s count, the River Hawks blocked 15 shots. Those that did get through to Hutton — and again, there were just 16 of them — were dealt with no problem.

We were disappointed, however, to see Rick Comley’s team completely come apart at the seams like it did at the end of the third period. With Lowell up three and just 1:44 to go, Tim Conboy took it upon himself to slash a Lowell player. Then got whistled for roughing with 50 seconds to go. Then Ryan Turek slashed another player with 35 seconds left. THEN Brandon Gentile got into it with Ben Holmstrom with 16 seconds to go. Loook, we know you got punked out in your home opener and everything, but there’s no place in hockey for crap like that. Comley is, by reputation, a hell of a classy guy, and we hope he sits all of you tomorrow night. Low rent all the way, eh Spartans? We expected better.

But hey, we’ll take a convincing road win over the No. 11 team in the country every damn day. See ya tomorrow night. Picture Munn reduced to ash at our whim.

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