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Saturday thoughts: Completely unacceptable

November 9, 2008

Whatever Lowell left on the ice against BU on Friday, they didn’t bother to retrieve it against Vermont.

In what had to be one of the worst all-around efforts by Lowell this season, Vermont ground out a 3-1 win that was just as boring as you’d have imagined it would be.

There are a lot of stats that jump out at us as having contributed to the loss. One is the fact that Lowell put just nine shots on goal at even strength compared to Vermont’s 13. Second is that Nevin Hamilton, in his first start of the season, stopped just 16 of the 19 he saw. Another is that Lowell, trailing by two goals for all but 37 seconds of the final period, won just seven of 20 faceoffs in the third. If GameTracker had the ability to note hits, one would likely have seen Lowell dominated in that department as well. Neither special teams unit was very effective. The breakout was poor, the passing was poor.

It was simply a dismal performance in pretty much every respect. You can’t score just one goal against Vermont, especially if they give you nine power plays. You can’t give up three goals on less than 20 shots. You need your best players to be your best players on a nightly basis. Case in point: Kory Falite finished the weekend without a shot on goal. Last year he averaged nearly four a night, and before this weekend, he was just over that with 21 in five games. He was only credited with four ATTEMPTED shots last night, though there were a few that were redirected by Lowell players out front that wouldn’t show up in GameTracker, so we’ll call it six and still say that’s an unacceptably low total for a kid like Falite who can snipe from anywhere in the offensive zone.

The special teams units as a whole did a lot of things well, we thought. But like the BU game itself, you can do a lot of things exactly like you want and still come out on the wrong side of things. We like that the ‘Hawks put 14 shots on net on nine power plays (though they attempted 35) and held UVM to just six SOG on eight power plays. But the difference in the game was that Vermont yielded one goal on those 14 shots, and Lowell conceded two on those six. Give Vermont two power play goals on the road and they’ll grind out a win every time, especially when teams are as mediocre on the breakout as Lowell was last night.

The difference, we suppose, also comes down to goaltending. Freshman Rob Madore may have looked skittish at first but he improved as the game went on, and he made a couple difficult saves even when Lowell had three third-period power plays and almost looked as though they had put something together offensively. Meanwhile, Nevin Hamilton, veteran of 31 college games and with respectable stats of around 2.3something/.900something coming into the night, made no difficult stops and posted an in-game save percentage of .842. You don’t win hockey games when your goaltender allowes just under 15.8 percent of the shots he faces to go in.

We hope that Lowell can take something positive from this weekend though, because we’re finding it awful difficult. Not that we aren’t trying. Carter Hutton‘s going to be out around a month if the rumors are to be believed (everyone who had five games in the Carter Hutton Injury Pool please e-mail us), but at least he’s lost for a month in early Novemeber rather than, say, February, and at least it’s only a month. We said yesterday that moral victories are for losers (in so many words), but we’ll at least hope this is a learning experience that tells Lowell that consistent performances are important.

What an awful weekend.

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