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Tuesday thoughts: Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Tuesdays

November 26, 2008

Lowell played badly. Very badly, to be frank. But the fact that the ‘Hawks were able to escape not only with two points but a margin of victory greater than one speaks to two things: how well they were able to convert the few so-so chances they created and how much worse Merrimack played. The 3-1 result was a smaller win than we’d hoped for, but given the circumstances (three games in five days for both teams, poor ice conditions, general who-cares attitude), it’s an acceptable one.

Neither team showed up to play tonight if you want to know the truth, but the talent gap between the teams is such that, even with a bench shortened for the final two periods by the injury to Matt Ferreira (more on that in just a sec), Lowell was able to eventually get a tenuous hold on the game and ride it out for a pair of league points.

Michael Budd opened the scoring for his third goal of the year and second in as many games on a bizarre combination of a Merrimack defensive breakdown and a goaltending blunder by Andrew Braithwaite where about four people fell down and allowed Budd to tap it in on the backhand. We’ll say this: that kid scores some dirty goals for Lowell and that’s something the ‘Hawks weren’t doing much of last year or this year. That kind of contribution from a freshman on the checking line is quite welcome.

Just prior to that, Kory Falite had an excellent chance to draw first blood on a pretty little pass from Ben Holmstrom that sprung him for a 1-on-1 with Braithwaite. Falite tried to roof it and hit the crossbar. Two inches deeper into the net and it was a goal, no question.

The Merrimack goal was noteworthy only because it tied the game up and was one of the few 5-on-3 goals you’ll ever see that’s totally on the goalie. Nevin Hamilton gave Rob Ricci time for dinner and a quick nap before he finally fired the puck into an inexplicably empty net from a low angle. Hamilton just sat there at the top of the crease looking at him the entire time. This one could have (and should have) been a shutout, and Hamilton has to be kicking himself for giving up a goal so incredibly ugly and needless.

Lowell finally put the game away with a Johnny-on-the-spot goal from Paul Worthington, who has been the beneficiary of two such goals in as many games. Not that there isn’t something to be said for getting to the right place at just the right time, but Holmstrom, who had another two assists tonight, and Patrick Cey are doing a great job opening up the spaces from which Worthington is cashing in.

The third goal, we don’t know what happened there. With Merrimack going for a change during a penalty kill, Jeremy Dehner somehow found Holmstrom uncovered at the blue line and Big Ben gave Falite a go-ahead puck for a breakaway. Falite don’t miss on those and the breathing room in the dying minutes was nice.

(Late edit: Forgot to get back to the Ferreira injury. He got CLEANED OUT along the boards by Grant Farrell part of the way through the first period. Demolished. His helmet came off and everything. He popped right back up and we figured that was a good sign, but he might have gotten just one more shift after that in the first period and didn’t return to the bench for the rest of the game. The other three centers split time pivoting the fourth line for the rest of the night and Budd took Ferreira’s spot on the second power play unit. According to Blaie MacDonald after the game, Ferreira could miss a significant amount of time, which is rather unfortunate. Might this prompt the return of Kory Falite to the top line now that he doesn’t have a playmaker like Ferreira to get him the puck on the fourth? Guess we’ll find out but this really is too bad.)

Merrimack, meanwhile, should never have left the dressing room in the first place. Their turnovers were lazy and numerous, the offensive pressure was poor save for two or three chances, and the urgency wasn’t there at all. We said the Warriors’ defense was overrated and we saw nothing tonight to dissuade us of this notion. Their no-show tonight couldn’t even be put into the category of “good effort” like their other non-wins. Mark Dennehy should be disgusted by the performance and for a team with a few decent offensive players like the ‘Mack to only score three goals in their last three games (while Lowell has 12 and could’ve had more in all three) has to be unacceptable.

Lowell’s performance tonight, overall, was what we would term “barely acceptable.” The win makes it such. Not much else to say that’d be too complimentary. Sloppy play, especially in the first period and, had Merrimack not been the team they currently are (as opposed to the one that beat UMass and tied BC), Lowell would have found itself in a hole early. Ugly, ugly game. Two points, though, is two points. We believe the saying goes, “You don’t ask how, you ask how many.”

Works for us.

Keep your eye out for a very special Loose Pucks tomorrow.

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