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Midweek preview: Just doing our workout.. Tuesday’s arms and back

November 24, 2008

Lowell River Hawks (6-5-0, 4-3-0 HE) vs. the Merrimack College Warriors (3-6-3, 1-5-2 HE)

at. Merrimack 7 p.m. Tuesday at Volpe Center, North Andover, Mass.

All-time head-to-head Lowell leads Merrimack 60-33-8

Lowell is tied for sixth in Hockey East with eight points from seven games and Merrimack is eighth in Hockey East with four points from eight games.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-4 vs. Northeastern, 6-1 vs. Providence, 2-0 at UMass Amherst
Merrimack — 1-1 at Maine, 1-2 at Maine, 1-2 at Vermont

Prior meetings
Lowell and Merrimack have not met this season.

Season series
Lowell and Merrimack have not met this season.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 11 GP, 6-3-9 (7 GP, 5-1-6 HE)
Maury Edwards — 11, 3-7-10 (7, 2-6-8)
David Vallorani — 11, 2-8-10 (7, 2-5-7)
Ben Holmstrom — 11, 2-7-9 (7, 1-5-6)
Nick Schaus — 11, 1-7-8 (7, 1-6-7)

Merrimack:
Pat Kimball — 12 GP, 4-3-7 (8 GP, 3-2-5 HE)
Chris Barton — 12, 4-3-7 (8, 3-2-5)
Francois Ouimet — 12, 3-4-7 (8, 1-4-5)
Joe Cucci — 12, 1-5-6 (8, 1-2-3)
Karl Stollery — 12, 2-3-5 (8, 2-3-5)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (2-2-0) — 5 GP, 278:39 minutes, 1.51 GAA/.940 sv% (2 GP, 100:00 minutes, 1.80 GAA/.939 sv% HE)
Nevil Hamilton (3-2-0) — 5, 296:46, 2.22/.924 (same HE)
T.J. Massie (1-1-0) — 2, 79:44, 3.76/.875 (1, 19:52, 12.08/.667)

Merrimack:
Andrew Brathwaite (2-5-0) — 7 GP, 376:19 minutes, 2.39 GAA/.908 sv% (5 GP, 257:37 minutes, 3.03 GAA/.894 sv% HE)
Joe Cannata (1-1-3) — 6, 358:05, 2.01/.930 (4, 233:13, 2.83/.895)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (11 games) — 37 goals for (3.36/gm), 23 goals against (2.09/gm). Power play 12/60 (20.0%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 47/54 (87.0%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (7 games) — 28 GF (4.00/gm), 18 GA (2.57/gm). Power play 8/33 (24.2%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 32/36 (88.9%, 1 SHGF)

Merrimack:
Overall (12 games) — 22 goals for (1.83/gm), 27 goals against (2.25/gm). Power play 4/53 (7.5%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 68/81 (84.0%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (8 games) — 17 GF (2.12/gm), 24 GA (3.00/gm). Power play 3/39 (7.7%, 1 SHGA), 42/53 (79.2%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
After this disappointing loss to NU on Saturday, Lowell simply needs two points from this game and should come out throwing bombs in the hopes of securing a quick K.O.

There is no reason for Lowell not to hang five on Merrimack tomorrow night despite the fact that it’s a road game and Merrimack’s goaltending stats are scary on the surface. That 2.19/.919 line looks very impressive, and it is, but if you break that down to Hockey East games, it’s a much more pedestrian, and thus Merrimackian 2.92/.895, and this is after they gave up just three goals in a weekend to a so-so Maine team.

On a purely statistical basis, the only Hockey East team to which Merrimack compares is Providence, and we all know how games against them have shaken out for Lowell. Look at the league stats: Providence is last in offense, defense and goal differential/game (1.56, 4.44, -2.88) and Merrimack is eighth, seventh and ninth in the same categories (2.12, 3.00, -0.88). PC? Lowell, for the record, is tops in offense, fourth in defense and first in goal differential/game (4.0, 2.57, 1.43).

So why should we be scared of Merrimack? Can their ever-busy penalty kill, which has to stop about 4 1/2 penalties a night, really slow down the second-ranked Lowell power play? Can its atrocious power play, which runs at 7.7 percent efficiency (worse than PC’s) solve Lowell’s fourth-ranked PK? It really doesn’t seem likely.

Both goalies are allegedly capable of stealing games, and of Merrimack’s three wins, it’s fair to say they swiped a pair, but the opponents…? Eh. Joe Cannata shut out Army on 44 shots and Andrew Brathwaite held UMass to a single goal on 35. Their ties against BC (5-5 in Boston) and Maine (1-1 in Orono) don’t impress us much either. The Eagles’ defense pulled a no-show and they blew a pair of two-goal leads, while Maine only had 17 shots on net.

The offense is absolutely nothing to worry about. Their leading scorers, Pat Kimball and Chris Barton, have seven points in 12 games, which would be good for a tie for seventh on the River Hawks despite on less game played.

It wouldn’t shock us to see anyone on Lowell’s lineup sheet dine on the Merrimack defense and goaltending as a pre-Thanksgiving appetizer, and we expect whichever goalie gets the nod (Nevin Hamilton, please. He needs to work the stink of those third-period NU goals off) to gobble up more pucks than an obese turkey. Could this be a breakout game for Mark Roebothan or Barry Goers? Robo has five goals in seven career games against the ‘Mack and Goers has been inserting himself into the offense a bit more of late. Maybe Ryan Blair, who once again leads Lowell in +/-, can pop in his first of the season. Maybe Jeremy Dehner can do the same.

Frankly, a Merrimack game is never cause for concern in our book. Least of all when Lowell is playing like this. Win huge then enjoy your long weekend, boys. This two-point swing could be important.

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