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Friday thoughts: … a red day, ere the sun rises!

November 22, 2008

We called for a demolition job before the game and Lowell duly delivered.

The scoreline reads 6-1 to our River Hawks but in reality, Lowell could have won by much, much more than that. Frankly, we’re almost happy it was only a five-goal deficit.

After Mike Potacco and Kory Falite scored soft goals on the first two shots of the game and chased starter Justin Gates just 2:01 into the game, Lowell eased up on the gas pedal considerably and did Providence the huge favor of not completely embarrassing them in front of 4,248 people. Lowell put just three more shots on net in the first period despite ample opportunity to really begin the Friars’ total and possibly final deconstruction. Despite an 11-5 shot advantage and the benefit of three power plays, Providence was lucky to escape with a two-goal deficit.

That was just about the extent of the mercy PC received, however. Nick Monroe scored his first goal since January 27, 2006 on the power play early in the second period to extend the lead to 3-0 and twist the knife just a little bit more. The goal came on a well-conceived and well-executed break into the zone, and a quick pass-pass-tap later from Michael Budd, who picked up his first collegiate assist and second point in as many games, and Nick Schaus, who had already assisted on the Potacco goal, the game was completely and utterly finished.

(A word, now, on Monroe and the comprehensive play he has carried out with masterful aplomb so far this season. He has been a revelation. Not your father’s Nick Monroe. Moving him from grind-line center to the wing has worked wonders for his game and his ability to get to good spots on the ice, and he has been justly rewarded with three points in as many games after scoring none last year. Beyond the point production, though, his defensive play has been exceptional as well and we would be remiss in not offering him our heartiest congratulations. Three points in three games well-earned and well-deserved, Mr. Monroe. Many more to come.)

By the time the third period rolled around, PC, if it had not completely run a ragged white cloth up the flag pole already, was now marching solemnly toward the enemy with hands in the air and weapons on the ground behind them. The way the Friars comported themselves in the third period was beyond embarrassing for all involved, we’re sure, though that didn’t stop Lowell from hanging three more goals on them in the period.

First, Scott Campbell picked up his second in two games at 5:39 while the teams played some four-on-four hockey and Falite netted his second of the night, eighth of the year and fifth in three games 45 seconds later. The level Falite is playing at right now is just unreal. He has found a real niche on the quote-unquote fourth line alongside the slick playmaking of Matt Ferreira, who had another assist tonight and the havoc-creating recklessness provided by Sammy D’Agostino. Once again the River Hawks had three of the team’s four lines get on the scoreboard and once again the special teams units were supremely successful, posting a combined net of 6 for 7 (2 of 3 on the power play, a perfect 4 for 4 on the PK, and, if you want to consider 4-on-4 play special teams, well then, by God, they scored on that too).

On Lowell’s final goal, though, a 5-on-3 power play goal from big Maury Edwards, we simply have to point something out. Bang-bang nature of the play aside, and with the acknowledgement that this was indeed done with a two-man advantage, we’d just like to say that it was a gorgeous, gorgeous play by David Vallorani. It was sunset beautiful. Write-poetry-about-it beautiful. He identified that the play, a pass through Friars’ triangle coverage as true and well-timed as any defenseman could want, could be made before Jeremy Dehner even thought about passing to him. It gave Edwards about 22 1/2 square feet of net in which to fire the puck and, as you’d expect, he reached way back to the Albertan Rockies to rifle that one past Chris Mannix, who, despite giving up four goals and taking the penalty that put PC down to three men, was not as terrible as you’d expect from his 17 saves on 21 shots.

Frankly, we’re not entirely sure Lowell had too much to do with how badly Providence College played tonight. Even the lone Friar goal, which came when it was already 5-0, was intended as a centering pass that went in off a Lowell player. It’s tough to put into words just how pathetic it was. And we don’t mean “pathetic” as in “inferior.” We mean actual Aristotelian pathos. The achievement was so hollow, the disparity in talent and will and drive so evocative of the Grand Canyon, that it almost wasn’t a goal at all. Why even bother counting it? It was tragically sad. We didn’t feel this bad for Ajax.

But back to Gates for a moment. Has not an entire team’s season been more succinctly summarized than in the two dreadful minutes for which Gates was on the ice? Beyond the two shots turning into two goals, Providence spent the entire 2:01 of Gates’ night chasing down Lowell forwards and coming up with what we think Tim Army would consider disgustingly little to show for it. The team, as we’re sure it has all season, played with confidence that can only be described by a number that’s less than zero. Teams with NO confidence are better off than Providence College right now, because PC is confident, even before getting off the bus, that it is going lose badly. And the sad part: it wasn’t even a woe-is-me attitude. Woe actually is them. Nothing but woe, in fact, resonated from PC the second they brought their sad-sack team into Tsongas Arena. At no point, even in the first 52/3,600ths of the game before Potacco’s opening strike, did it feel like this would be anything but a Lowell win. If you’re a Lowell fan, that’s a great feeling. If you’re a Providence fan, we can do nothing but offer our sincerest condolences that it’s not even December yet.

What this decimation of Providence does, when combined with Northeastern’s 3-2 squeaker over UNH tonight, is set up the River Hawks’ biggest game of the year tomorrow night against the Huskies. For Lowell, points will be required. Moral victories won’t cut it.

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