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Saturday thoughts: Ho hum

February 8, 2009

If their fans didn’t make it so deliriously fun, beating the Minutemen so often would become very tiresome.

Yeah, Lowell went out to Amherst and once again put together a win that was convincing in everything but scoreline, and yeah, that allowed Lowell to keep pace with BC and UNH, both of which picked up two points this weekend. But the real issue, as always, was which UMass program proved itself to once again be superior and which will once again play the part of pretender. (Hint: Lowell is better.)

Not that Lowell’s play in the first period would lead you to believe this. No, it let Amherst jump out to a late 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Shawn Saunders, whoever that is. Despite outshooting the Minutemen in the period 13-9, Lowell was often back in its own end, scrambling to clean up the messes that UMass’ shifty transition attack was creating. And even when Amherst TRIED to let Lowell back into the game, as with the combination tripping and hooking minors that saw Will Ortiz and Martin Nolet both go to the box at 16:14, the River Hawks were more than happy to give them an out (in the case of the concurrent minors, Maury Edwards took a real rockhead hitting from behind penalty after a whistle).

But in the second, Lowell composed itself and, despite the shots being a bit closer at 11-10, took over the game for all intents and purposes. A nice little play and a good follow from Patrick Cey netted the sophomore his fifth of the year and tied the game up just over halfway through the period. Lowell was getting the puck toward the net with more convincing efficiency, the passing was crisper and the power plays were more dangerous. It was all very encouraging, and led us to believe that, at worst, Lowell would leave Amherst with a tie.

However, just a minute into the third period, Mark Roebothan washed away all hope of an Amherst win with his fifth of the season and fourth in three games. A scrum in front of Paul Dainton*, who made a lot of saves but certainly wasn’t awe-inspiring in the loss, produced a puck on the left side of the crease that Robo banged home for the go-ahead (and credit to referee Jeff Bunyon who could have blown it dead long before Roebothan ever got to the puck, but kept his eye on it the whole time and never even thought about using his whistle). No problem. Amherst tried to get back into the game late in the third with some pressing offense and some good hits, but it was too little, too late. By the time James Marcou crossed the blue line with his head down and was clobbered into the 22nd century by Nick Schaus (hit of the year, no question) the game had long been over.

We would be remiss, by the way, if we did not mention the fantastic fill-in play of Chris Auger, subbing for Kory Falite, who, thanks to his lackluster play at BU, was a healthy scratch for the second time in three weeks. Auger did a lot of little things very, very well. He played a heads-up forecheck, he made smart decisions with the puck and did it quickly, he focused all of his attention to getting the puck toward the net and he even played well and often maintained possession along the boards. In short: he did a lot of things that won’t show up on the stat sheet but should certainly earn him another game in the lineup against BC next week. If this is the new Chris Auger, it’s one that we’d like to see play every night. Perhaps it was his move to the wing that, like Nick Monroe earlier this year, freed him of some of the responsibilities that come with running the pivot and, as such, allowed him to focus more on the things that could make him a rather useful player down the stretch.

And how fitting this win was, too. Lowell won its second straight season series against the Minutemen, the ninth in its last 11. For all the crap anyone ever hears about “UMass Amherst is a good program with good players and a good coach,” what has the school done apart from those two “good” seasons, one of which was aided by forfeit points? If you answered “nothing,” you would be correct.

Reading UMassHoops, the sad little message board to which most Amherst fans have skulked off so as to congratulate their mediocre program on its various near-miss failures without fear of being ridiculed by reasonable people, has been an absolute delight this weekend. It went from, “We need to get no less than three points this weekend,” to, “Fire Cahoon,” in the space of about 30 hours. We’re sure that our reveling in Amherst’s abject failure to do anything of note the last two seasons will lead some Minutemutants to drop comments on this post about how bitter we are. But you gotta lose to be bitter, and Amherst, out of everybody, should know that. Lowell, however, doesn’t lose to the woebegone UMass Amherst Minutemen as a general rule.

The inevitability of a Lowell win at Amherst is something to which you can set any number of timepieces. The Minutemen simply do not have the juice to beat Lowell most years or, indeed, compete as a legitimate force in Hockey East (never mind the insane fourth-to-sixth talk over at the aforementioned message board). If things hold up at the bottom of the standings, and they should, Amherst will finish in seventh or eighth — or even ninth, hope against hope! — for the second year in a row despite being the “flagship” school and getting more or less double the annual funding that Lowell does. Talk about misappropriated state money. Imagine what Lowell could do with that budget.

Like the idea that UMass Amherst could somehow still do something of note this season, it’s tough to reckon. We’d like to give it a try, though.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Jay W. permalink
    February 9, 2009 5:16 am

    You have to lose to be bitter? Nope. Sorry. You’re just bitter. Obviously you’re still mad that the board wanted to eliminate your team.

    But if you wanted to be looked at as a successful blogger, you need to lose the bitterness and spitefulness you have towards UMass. It makes you look stupid and a fool. There is nothing wrong with good natured trashing… heck UMass deserves a ton of it. But the way you handle it really puts you in a bad light, makes you look petty and small.

    Congrats on Lowell winning yet another series against UMass. They earned it and deserved it.

    Hopefully Lowell can somehow squeak into the 4th spot so I can watch them host playoff hockey with my Lowell buddy Steven.

  2. The 'Hawks blog permalink
    February 9, 2009 5:52 am

    As we’ve explained in the past: we are not at all upset about the whole “eliminating the program” thing. We were closely involved with all of it and knew nothing would come of it.

    The better word to describe our feelings toward it is “amused.” The hilarious jealousy of the Amherst alums on that board over Lowell’s clear, deserved success and dominance over the so-called flagship school was as real as our (justified) belief that Amherst is and always was a going-nowhere program.

    And if you think we want to be “successful bloggers,” you couldn’t be less correct. If we cared about that we’d put a lot more effort into promoting it rather than just leaving a link for you to click or not click in two USCHO signatures. You came here of your own accord and, we assume, continue to read because you’ve found something enjoyable here. Our goal here is to amuse ourselves, and if someone else likes it along the way, that’s super.

    The reason we get on Amherst more than anyone else in Hockey East is because its fans have done the most to actively not ingratiate themselves to us and the Hockey East community at large. In fact, their behavior in general is condescending at best (talk of Lowell being the “ugly sister,” etc.) and aggressive at worst (the various times we’ve been threatened at Mullins by some no-neck ruffians simply for supporting our dear ‘Hawks). All of which is to say that we don’t have any great dislike for the team or program itself (Toot Cahoon sometimes makes even this difficult, however), but we so enjoy shoving the Minuteman fans’ noses into Lowell’s continued and seemingly endless success against Amherst.

    Certainly, it elicits responses like yours about how petty and small we are (that, of course, is our aim when it comes to Amherst, which, we’ll point out to our own credit, we no longer refer to as ScUMass Scumherst) and juxtaposes Amherst’s students’ game-day behavior which is reprehensible and inexcusable, though we need an umbrella to deal the excuses being made for it on UMasshoops.com.

    Simply, Jay, people like you and that nitwit Jeff Howe are the reason we so enjoy seeing Lowell beat Amherst in such a comprehensive and thorough manner year in and year out. Your sense of entitlement springs from nowhere but the hefty check the state slides your program every year, which we don’t even begrudge you because, well, ours is better pretty much all the time.

    Frankly, we feel hard done by and feel that you should comport yourselves in such a way that you can show the proper amount of respect due a program that is so superior to yours despite myriad reasons to the contrary. It’s a fair request. On this blog and in our lives, we treat BC, UNH and BU with the respect owed them. They have beaten Lowell so often that they’ve at least earned that much from us. It’s rare for us to have a bad word to say about the programs of Mssrs. York, Umile and Parker because of 1) their annual success over Lowell and Hockey East in general has earned them reverence as opponents, and 2) the way they’ve done it (i.e. no bitching and moaning, no dirty play, no ill-intended condescension) has earned them reverence as people.

    The same cannot be said for programs like Amherst or Maine, the former for upholding neither of the above principles, and the latter for carrying itself in a way that we deem unbefitting a program of its caliber as far as point No. 2 goes.

    A heartfelt apology for past transgressions and a solemn promise to refrain from such behavior in the future is all we’ll ask in return for easing up on the Amherst trashing. Honestly, it’s the least you can do.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Jay W. permalink
    February 9, 2009 12:48 pm

    I read your blog for 2 reasons:

    1. I enjoy Lowell hockey. SHOCKER!

    How dare a UMass alum and someone who has been involved with the program and a supporter from day 1 back in 1993 actually like their little sister school! Well, I do.

    I started following this team 3 years ago and have supported them, attending a bunch of non Umass/Lowell games.

    I have zero animosity towards Lowell or their fans. I am proud the fans rose up and faced their challenge head on. I was saddened by the Amherst fans reaction to the possible elimination of your program.

    2. My buddy is a Lowell alum and its great to have Hockey East talk with someone who also supports a mediocre (albeit better) program.

    You say I have a sense of entitlement? Really? What entitlement do I have? Please explain.

    And to say your amused might be the way you convince yourself thats all it is, but its not. Anyone can read the true feelings you have. Even if you only do this for fun and not be a good blogger is no reason to write the things you do. Sadly this blog is one of the best sources for Riverhawk hockey. You would get more than an Amherst fan commenting on your stories if you cut out the B.S. and hated concentrated on your writing. Outside of the UMass crap, you have great info and good insight. Then you flush it down the toilet.

    I dont speak for every UMass fan, I dont think like every UMass fan. I am me. And to group me or categorize me with anyone else is ridiculous.

    And I support you in respecting BC. However, Jack Parker deserves all the respect you show UMass fans. His teams are successful, but obviously you dont watch enough BU games or know enough about Jack Parker to know what a whining, crying, scumbag of a coach he really is.

    And if you want respect on your blog, earn it. Im not sure if you’re 18 or 48. But you post and act like an 8 yr old. Im not sure why its so difficult for people to have real discussions without it being trash talking and one-upmanship. But you’ve decided to take that route, and its sad.

    Since our teams wont meet again this year, and certainly not at the Garden, good luck the rest of the season. I hope you get the #4 seed.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2009 2:39 pm

    “All of which is to say that we don’t have any great dislike for the team or program itself, but we so enjoy shoving the Minuteman fans’ noses into Lowell’s continued and seemingly endless success against Amherst.”

    Funny, I’m a UMass fan who ALWAYS will root for the non-Big 4 teams in Hockey East, including Lowell. I also don’t have a huge dislike of the Lowell team or program and even wrote to the UMass board to express my support to keep the Lowell program alive. In fact a bunch of my fellow UMass did the same. However, reading the things said on this blog and USCHO about UMass makes it really tough to root for you guys even though I want to. So be careful about making statements about other team’s fanbases before looking at your own (and especially, yourself).

    Also I would be careful in claiming Lowell’s superiority over the UMass program. Fact is over the last 10 years UMass has more NCAA appearances and Hockey East Semi and Finals appearances than Lowell.

    Lowell on the other hand has a lot more history with its rich DII tradition and some great teams in the 90’s when UMass was just getting their program back on track. But recent success has been about even if not slightly in UMass’ favor. Either way I hope both programs are regularly able to knock BC, BU, UNH, and Maine into the lower echelon of Hockey East (although Maine seems to be doing a pretty good job of doing that themselves).

  5. Anonymous permalink
    February 9, 2009 4:10 pm

    I know you don’t let facts get in the way with your arguments, but the Amherst alums on the board were jealous of Lowell and wanted to get rid of it? There was one driving force behind disbanding the Lowell program; Stephen Tocco. Where did he go to school? The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Harvard. Zero ties to any of the UMass campuses. Sadly, a minority of the trustees are actually alums of the UMass system.

  6. Steven permalink
    February 10, 2009 1:24 am

    I’m the Lowell alum that Jay mentioned.

    Jay comes to Lowell games with me and he went beyond the call of duty at that Thursday Night Lowell/Merrimack game at Tsongas a few weeks ago. He is a college hockey fan.

    He knows how I feel about the flagship but is nice enough to put up with me.

    We should be talking about Schaus putting Marcou into next week and Toot going batshit after that.

    Can’t we all make fun of BC? Those pricks deserve it!

  7. jjmc85 permalink
    February 10, 2009 4:04 pm

    Congratulations on winning the season series. See you next year.

    Go Minutemen!

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