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Weekend preview: Not actually the weekend

October 30, 2008

Lowell River Hawks vs. the Quinnipiac Bobcats

7 p.m. Thursday at Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass.

All-time head-to-head: The teams have never met

Lowell is 2-2-0, 1-0 in Hockey East. Quinnipiac is 1-1-0.

Last three games
Lowell: 4-1 vs. Providence, 1-2 at Michigan State, 3-0 at Michigan State
Quinnipiac: 4-1 vs. AIC at the Omaha Stampede, 5-6 (ot) vs. Union at the Omaha Stampede

Prior Meetings
Lowell and Quinnipiac have never met ever.

Season series
No games played.

Top scorers
Lowell:
David Vallorani — 4 GP, 0-5-5 (1 GP, 0-2-2 Hockey East)
Patrick Cey — 4, 2-0-2 (1, 0-0-0)
Kory Falite — 4, 1-1-2 (1, 0-0-0)
Paul Worthington — 4, 1-1-2 (1, 1-0-1)
Maury Edwards — 4, 1-1-2 (1, 0-1-1)

Quinnipiac:
Brandon Wong — 2 GP, 3-2-5
Bryan Leitch — 2, 0-4-4
Jean-Marc Beaudoin — 2, 1-2-3
Spencer Heichman — 2, 1-1-2
David Arduin — 2, 1-0-1

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (2-2-0) — 4 GP, 238:39 minutes, 1.26 GAA/.947 sv% (1 GP, 60:00 minutes, 1.00 GAA/.963 sv% Hockey East)

Quinnipiac:
Nick Pisellini (1-0-0) — 1 GP, 60:00 minutes, 1.00 GAA/.933 sv%
Bud Fisher (0-1-0) — 1, 62:00, 5.77/.857

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (4 games) — 9 goals for (2.25/g), 5 against (1.25/g). Power play 3/23 (13.0%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 15/18 (83.3%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (1 game) — 4 goals for (4.0/g), 1 against (1.0/g). Power play 1/5 (20.0%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 6/6 (100.0%, 0 SHGF)

Quinnipiac:
Overall (2 games) — 9 goals for (4.5/g), 7 against (3.5/g). Power play 3/7 (42.9%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 9/11 (81.8%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook:
The Q, umm, tends to open up leads.

Quinnipiac has scored four goals in the first period of each of its two games this year and allowed none. That’s crazy. And sure, Union and AIC aren’t the staunchest of opponents, but still, eight goals in two first periods is tough to argue with.

If Lowell can keep the Bobcats Q-uiet in the early going, one gets the feeling it’s going to be smooth sailing, and we like the idea of that because Lowell has yet to allow a first-period goal this year on 30 shots (an average of 7.5 per game).

Once you get out of the first period, the Bobcats aren’t Q-uite so scary. Just one goal for and seven against. This, mind again, is against Union and AIC. Fans of the Q have them pegged as an above-average team with below-average goaltending (we know the feeling) and think this is a must-win. However, hanging four on AIC and five on Union, and then still losing in overtime, impresses us not at all, especially because the reports out of Omaha two weeks had both goalies giving up a softie or two a night.

This is going to come as a shock, but we like Lowell here for a number of reasons. One, home ice for a mid-week game is important thanks to the phenomenon of bus legs. On top of those bus legs, the Q hasn’t played since Lowell was at Michigan State, and played an awful opponent in the latter half of that weekend. Not exactly the best preparation for a good, fast team like Lowell. We’ll also go out on a limb here and say the goalies for Union and AIC aren’t on par with Carter Hutton, who simply doesn’t give up a lot of goals this year (yet).

You saw the stat earlier this week, readers. If the River Hawks score twice or more, they usually win the game. And if the Q’s going to spot Lowell a softie or two, then we don’t see a problem.

It’s a must-win game for Lowell if only because all games are must-win and this is, superficially, a slightly inferior opponent. If Lowell keeps the Bobcats quiet early, it’s the ‘Hawks in a walk.

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