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Thursday thoughts: You only get one chance to make a first impression

October 31, 2008

Yesterday we said that if Lowell could clamp down on some early chances for Quinnipiac and establish that they were going to be their playing their game nice and early, the ‘Hawks would take it the W in a walk.

Being right all the time is tougher than you think.

Lowell scored three first-period goals and kept the Bobcats’ powerful early offense Q-uiet despite some jitters in the first five minutes or so, cruising to a 4-1 win that, like the game against Providence, was rarely in doubt.

Rookie netminder T.J. Massie got his first career start to the surprise of many, but after some nervous plays at the outset and a lucky Q-uick whistle from the officials that prevented a sure goal for the Q, he was solid the rest of the way, if a little tentative in his decision-making. Lowell made sure he got tested early as well, conceding a 5-on-3 about three minutes in. But Lowell allowed only two shots on it and killed the penalty despite both Barry Goers and Jeremy Dehner being in the box. Once the ‘Hawks got past that, one had to feel good about their chances the rest of the way.

Indeed, Kory Falite‘s power play goal five minutes later more or less cemented the game. After that, the Q could only watch in horror as Lowell poured two more goals, from Ben Holmstrom and Scott Campbell, past starter Bud Fisher in the space of 5:22. Fisher got the hook (get it?), but the damage was done and the game was a 40-minute sideshow after that, in which Falite added a second power play goal and Quinnipiac scored a shortie to round out the scoring.

We’ll tell you what was really great in last night’s game: seeing the first line play like a first line. Falite ended the night with two goals and an assist, Holmstrom had the game-winner and a helper, and Paul Worthington had two assists. A 3-4-7 line from your top forward unit? That’ll play.

Not only was it important within the context of the game, but it was also important to get that line some confidence. You could see it build as the game went on, in Falite especially. If they can keep that feeling going into next week’s games with BU and UVM, they could rain goals on both those teams without a problem. All three goals the line scored were a strong combination of hard work and being in the right place at the right time. Goals like that are the best ones because it means everyone on the line is doing something right.

The CPR line, too, continues to get its legs under it with Campbell’s goal being its second in as many games. A goal per game from any line is about as much as you can reasonably expect on any given night, so let’s keep that up as well.

And because we’ve gotten some e-mailers that have been understandably impressed with David Vallorani so far, we will tell you that while he didn’t have any points, he continued to play very well and his vision, particularly on the power play, seems to get better ever night. Hope that helps.

And how about Massie, who made 27 saves and picked up the second star in his collegiate debut? The move struck many as a noodle-scratcher but made sense in that he wouldn’t really get another chance to start against an out-of-conference opponent until the RIT game at the end of November, and after a few saves and decisions that didn’t exactly inspire the greatest of confidence, he was perfectly fine. The one goal he gave up, although shorthanded, wasn’t really a softie, either. Solid first game if nothing else, and that’s really all Lowell needed.

After going into the dressing room down 3-0 through 20 minutes, the Q spent the majority of the game’s remainder basically playing like the low-rent, no-talent pukes they are. After taking one minor penalty in the first period, the Q picked up 46 penalty minutes in the remaining 40 of play, including a pair of 10-minute misconducts when the game had stretched to 4-1. All the while, Fisher, who had coughed up three goals on nine shots and seen his goals-against rise to 7.08 and his save percentage plunge to .824, was trash talking from the bench, something to which Lowell players and coaches did not take too kindly. Way to go, Fisher. It’s not hard to see where all the hockey talent in your family went. Enjoy clipboard duty the rest of your career, you nobody.

The garbage the Q pulled in the third, though, was just embarrassing. After Sammy D’Agostino (who was an outstanding pest all night) demolished a pair of Bobcats with huge, clean hits, things got very nasty. A few Q players took a run at D’Agostino and tried to fight Campbell, settling instead for a headlock and a takedown. Later, one crosschecked Goers into the board from behind and when Goers took exception to this, another decided it was a good idea to start punching him.

We hope that in the future, Lowell continues to schedule this awful team, and not just for the easy out-of-conference W. This is the type of matchup we’d circle on our calendars in July and really get ourselves ready for. The Q’s complete lack of class, sportsmanship and talent would make it an absolute pleasure to see Lowell kick their rotten teeth in every single season.

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