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Weekend preview: We say the future is ours… if you can count

January 22, 2009

Lowell River Hawks (9-12-0, 6-8-0 HE) vs. the Merrimack College Warriors (5-12-3, 2-10-2 HE)

vs. Merrimack 7 p.m. Thursday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.
at Merrimack 7 p.m. Saturday at Volpe Center, North Andover, Mass.

All-time head-to-head Lowell leads Merrimack 61-33-8

Lowell is tied for sixth in Hockey East with 12 points from 14 games and Merrimack is last in Hockey East with six points from 14 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-4 vs. UMass Amherst, 4-3 at Boston College (ot), 2-4 at Providence
Merrimack — 1-4 vs. BU, 1-2 vs. Northeastern, 1-2 at Northeastern

Prior meetings
Though neither team played particularly well, Lowell downed Merrimack in their first meeting this season, 3-1, back on Nov. 25. Paul Worthington had the game-winning goal for the River Hawks, who also got tallies from Michael Budd and Kory Falite. Merrimack’s lone goal came on a 5-on-3 power play. Nevin Hamilton made 24 saves to get the win.

Season series
Lowell leads 1-0-0 and holds a 3-1 lead in aggregate.

Top scorers
Kory Falite — 21 GP, 11-6-17 (14 GP, 7-3-10 HE)
Maury Edwards — 21, 8-9-17 (14, 7-8-15)
David Vallorani — 21, 4-12-16 (14, 3-8-11)
Scott Campbell — 21, 8-6-14 (14, 3-4-7)
Ben Holmstrom — 21, 4-10-14 (14, 2-8-10)

Chris Barton — 20 GP, 5-9-14 (14 GP, 4-6-10 HE)
Rob Ricci — 17, 6-6-12 (13, 5-3-8)
Joe Cucci — 18, 3-7-10 (12, 2-3-5)
Francois Ouimet — 18, 3-7-10 (12, 1-4-5)
Karl Stollery — 20, 2-7-9 (14, 2-7-9)

Carter Hutton (3-6-0) — 10 GP, 541:44 minutes, 1.99 GAA/.923 sv% (5 GP, 245:07 minutes, 2.45 GAA/.915 sv% HE)
Nevil Hamilton (5-5-0) — 11, 630:47, 2.38/.918 (10, 570:51, 2.31/.923)

Joe Cannata (3-4-3) — 11 GP, 655:58 minutes, 2.38 GAA/.914 sv% (8 GP, 471:06 minutes, 2.93 GAA/.890 sv% HE)
Andrew Braithwaite (2-8-0) — 10, 556:07, 2.59/.905 (7, 375:43, 2.87/.904)

Team stats
Overall (21 games) — 61 goals for (2.90/gm), 50 goals against (2.38/gm). Power play 22/109 (20.2%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 82/95 (86.3%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (14 games) — 44 GF (3.14/gm), 38 GA (2.71/gm). Power play 14/65 (21.5%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 60/68 (88.2%, 1 SHGF)

Overall (20 games) — 40 goals for (2.00/gm), 50 goals against (2.50/gm). Power play 4/53 (7.5%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 100/122 (82.0%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (14 games) — 27 GF (1.93/gm), 41 GA (2.93/gm). Power play 8/74 (10.8%, 1 SHGA), 68/86 (79.1%, 0 SHGF)

After this disappointing loss to UMass Amherst 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.

Okay, so we literally only had to change “Northeastern” to UMass Amherst in the above sentence, but the general idea is literally exactly the same. Lowell simply needs four points this weekend, and anything else would be a crushing disappointment.

Now, Lowell has finally begun playing better hockey after a long post-Thanksgiving swoon, and we’re glad of that. We got a chance to see Merrimack and BU the other night and the ‘Mack, well, didn’t look good, or disciplined. If Lowell can play like it did against BC on Friday, draw a couple penalties (not hard against Merrimack, one of the most penalized teams in Hockey East), we like Lowell’s chances to put together a pair of blowouts loaded with power play goals.

But even if the River Hawks play like they did against Amherst, we still like them (obviously) to pull out a pair of nervy wins. Simply put, Merrimack, which has one Hockey East win since last these teams met, cannot compete with Lowell on a talent-for-talent basis and that much was evident even in Lowell’s poor performance at North Andover in late November. The ‘Mack’s defensive breakdowns, particularly on Worthington’s goal, were at times mind-boggling and at others pitiable. Granted, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy made no bones about declaring that debacle his team’s worst performance of the year, but if the ‘Hawks can get teams to turn in bad performances (and they have at several times this year), that’s as much a them as it is a detriment to their opponents.

Lowell certainly won’t be looking past the Warriors this weekend either. The points are entirely too important. Four points would, theoretically at least, put Lowell within striking distance of home ice once again since Amherst is unlikely to take points from Vermont in Burlington while Maine and BC have a legitimate chance of cannibalizing points from eachother. The goal is very clear and the prey, while dangerous to a degree, is still rather weak. It makes too many mistakes and doesn’t capitalize on its opposition’s. There’s no reason in the world Lowell doesn’t win twice this weekend. We’re hoping for, and cautiously expecting, some laughers.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    January 23, 2009 5:44 am

    Lowell played like crap tonight. I’m happy they got the 2 points but they scored on a 5 on 3 and then got that crazy bounce to tie the game at 2-2.

    I hope Blaise ripped in to them tonight. I will be at Merrimack on Saturday and I want to see a better performance.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 23, 2009 1:39 pm

    Honestly, I’m glad Lowell gets the 2pts as well, but the Mack deserved to win that game. If it weren’t for a crazy bounce, we’re FUCKED.

    Hutt’s didn’t play that well, although the Todd kid from the Mack looked pretty on his goal.

    I’m worried about Saturday.

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