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Very late Friday Thoughts: Oh! Well that’s alright then

February 1, 2009

No one knows those old, bitter feelings better than seniors Mark Roebothan, Mike Potacco and Nick Monroe.

The trio has all played just about every game against Maine since they began their careers as River Hawks (Roebothan has played all 12, Potacco and Monroe have played 11 each). In those games, Lowell went 2-10-0 against the Black Bears.

They opened their careers against Maine with a 9-2 home loss in November of 2005 and it got little better from there. A trip to Orono about two months later yielded losses of 4-0 and 6-2. Later that year, Maine ousted Lowell from the playoffs with a pair of 4-3 wins, the first of which came in overtime. Up until last season’s series against BU, those two games were the only taste of postseason play any current River Hawk had enjoyed, or, if you prefer, suffered. And so began these seniors’ careers in Orono, 0-4 and losing 18-8 on aggregate.

The next season was more of the same, with the ‘Hawks losing 4-1 in Orono to open the season series in mid November before dropping 4-2 and 5-2 decisions at Tsongas Arena in early January. That made a two-year total of 0-5 in Orono, with a minus-13 goal differential.

The seniors’ first success against Maine was remarkable, even if it didn’t count for anything. Last year, the River Hawks walloped the woebegone Black Bears 6-0 to win the Florida College Classic title. Maine fared better but still failed to win in the second meeting, falling 3-2, this time in a Hockey East game, in Lowell just over a month later. But though Maine was in a tailspin of a season that saw it fail to make the Hockey East playoffs, our dear ‘Hawks still lost twice in Orono, 4-1 and 2-1 in overtime. That’s 0-7 and a 28-11 scoring deficit.

In fact, since the last time ANY Lowell team had won at Alfond Arena, Lowell was 0-14-1 and, if we’re not wrong, had been outscored 53-26.

But in the end just three goals and 14 saves, apparently, was all it took for about seven years and eleven months of frustration and heartache to be washed away, and it was fitting that Roebothan, who had only ever totaled one assist against Maine in his 12-game career, scored arguably the game’s most important goal, that shorthanded, for his third strike in two games.

This was truly a victory for everyone, save, obviously, for the beaten-down Black Bears and their forlorn fanbase. For the seniors, this was a cleansing that had been so badly needed and for so long, that it was almost fitting that it came in their last-ever game in Orono (barring a slew of miracles that results in Maine climbing to No. 4 and hosting the ‘Hawks for a playoff series). For the fans in attendance, it must have been nice to have finally taken the time and money to slog up to Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine and watch a winning effort (we weren’t there for this one, unfortunately, but we were in the building on Saturday Feb. 17, 2001, so we can approximate how it felt on Friday). For the non-seniors, it continued a surprisingly not-terrible string of performances against the ever-slipping Bears who seem, at long last, to have tired of coach Tim Whitehead and his embarrassing decisions.

But most importantly, at least for the here-and-nowers among us, this win meant two direly required points in the Hockey East standings, and that’s all that matters in this, the thick of the hunt for home ice. Our ‘Hawks are a mere point back of UNH and even Vermont must surely be hearing the footsteps now.

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