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Saturday thoughts: 60 percent of the time, it works EVERY time

November 30, 2008

Well apart from another slow, disappointing start against an easily beatable, unimpressive opponent, this is one of those games you have to shrug and go, “I guess we’ll take it.”

Were it not for a colossal effort from Scott Campbell, Lowell would have been in danger of drawing or even losing to RIT today thanks to a lackadaisical, mediocre effort for a good 75-plus percent of the night. But because Campbell had a hat trick and picked up two assists, Lowell seemed like it cruised to a 6-3 win.

Now, we’re not sure what it says about either team that Lowell can pull its second partial no-show in a row and still score six times. Does RIT just stink that badly? The goaltending sure did. Is Lowell really that talented? Judging by the goals for per game over the last 10 (that’d be 4.2 for those keeping track at home), probably.

Give RIT a little credit: they put the puck toward the net. Of course, only a fraction of the shots attempted actually got all the way to the net (17 SOG on 50 or so attempts.. yikes), but hey, they were trying, right? Lowell did a good job of getting in the way of shots, and we counted several blocks on shots within very close proximity to the net, which is impressive and certainly made Nevin Hamilton‘s job easier and night look better. Giving up three goals on 17 shots is never a good thing, even if one of them was on a 5-on-3 and another was a kid cleaning up trash in the crease to close RIT’s deficit to three inside of two minutes to go. The game shouldn’t have been as close as it was for any amount of time.

Fact: Lowell is a far better team than RIT. This game could have been 4-0 after one period and should’ve been closer to 8- or 9-3 by the end. RIT netminder Louis Menard made such a pig’s ear of some of the 27 shots he faced (and another that hit the post) that Lowell could have easily scored two or three more, and certainly Campbell could’ve had a good ol’ fashioned Texas hat trick. That the ‘Hawks didn’t capitalize more on the game was happenstance rather than competent defense or goaltending.

That’s the bad news, though. Overall, it’s tough to line up against another 6-plus goals at home. Certainly a lot of that has to do with Campbell, who had by far the best game from any Lowell player at any point this season. We already mentioned that he obviously had a five-point night which, if our memory serves us correctly, is the most by a Lowell player since like 1999 (someone must’ve had five in that 13-1 game over UConn, no?), but he could’ve had six or even seven if the puck had bounced properly. Moreover, his effort was not just felt on the scoresheet. How about this kid, who came into the game winning almost 65 percent of his draws, winning 15 of the 20 he took tonight. He was, in a word, monstrous. He was better than any THREE other players that suited up tonight. It was a huge, huge contribution, especially considering the rather extenuating circumstances.

Those circumstances, of course, were the injury to CPR linemate Mark Roebothan, who left partway through the first period with some type of shoulder injury (the specifics of which have been rumored to be either a separated shoulder or perhaps a broken collar bone), and the resultant line shuffling and short bench. Also add fourth-line center Jason DeLuca, already playing in place of an injured Matt Ferreira, going down late in the third and having his arm in a sling at the post-game holiday skate to the list of injury worries. Lowell is looking down the barrel of a couple games without all its regulars, but should have sufficient cover at Roebothan’s left wing position in Jonathan Maniff and DeLuca and Ferreira’s slot on the pivot in now-healthy Chris Auger, who has yet to play this year thanks to an injury suffered at the Chicago Blackhawks’ rookie camp this summer. At least enough cover, anyway, to get Lowell to the break semi-safely.

Coach Blaise MacDonald said after the game that RIT dominated, though we think that might be a bit of hyperbole due to his frustration with two admittedly atrocious efforts back-to-back. If you “dominate” a game, you don’t lose by three, give up six goals and get outshot 27-17. RIT may have carried play for large stretches but the end result favors Lowell, and justly so. Anything closer than that would have been undeserved flattery for the Tigers, who were so hopelessly outclassed by Lowell’s skill that, even in completely and obviously outworking the River Hawks, were soundly thumped.

Not to say everyone on Lowell played poorly. Mike Potacco had four assists, including one on each of the first three Lowell goals, and that speaks for itself. David Vallorani had a goal and an assist to jumpstart the power play and put some distance between the teams. We thought Nick Monroe had another huge game despite not getting on the scoresheet. He went through a couple guys, put a couple shots on net, and drew a penalty in the third period. Kory Falite played fairly well too, getting another goal (his 10th in 13!) and an assist, putting six shots on net and even getting back to help defuse a 2-on-1 break for RIT in the third. Ben Holmstrom also drew a penalty or two and hit the post on a redirection. Tim Corcoran, in just his second game ever, was steady at the back and made a few good plays, even if he finished a -1. Sammy D’Agostino capped his typically solid performance as all-around nuisance with another goal. So, even in dismal overall efforts, there are positives to be appreciated.

What we’ll take from it is this: Lowell for the most part played sloppy, uninspired hockey for almost the entire game and still came out of it with a mountain of goals. RIT may have played its best game of the season and still lost by three. See what we meant?

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