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A special thanks pt. 2

March 8, 2009

A few words, now, on Mark Roebothan, Mike Potacco and Nick Monroe, Lowell’s three seniors who played in their final game at Tsongas Arena tonight.

Here we have three young men that, in our minds, exemplify the blue-collar work ethic that makes the “Lowell Hockey” style, the one which indelibly shaped our appreciation for the sport, what it is.

The three were brought in under different circumstances, of course. Potacco’s final year of junior was one in which he helped light up the OPJHL alongside linemate and current Edmonton Oiler Andrew Cogliano, and he came into Lowell with the expectation that he would be a consummate scorer. While that expected, superb scoring touch never quite developed (though he currently has 26 goals and 54 points in 128 career games), what happened instead is that Potacco developed an excellent defensive game and astounding speed that we believe to be unmatched in Hockey East and possibly the entirety of the NCAA.

The former is also true of Monroe, although that was a bit more expected. He came to Lowell with less than a point a game in his final junior season, so you knew he was being recruited for his defensive prowess. And prowess he provided. Over his four year career, he was rarely a threat to score, but his ability to prevent the other team from scoring, especially on the power play, rivals that of anyone in the country, and we say that in all sincerity. For a guy with only 19 career points, 10 of which came in his excellent senior season, his career plus-minus rating of minus-10 is quite impressive considering how often he was asked to shut down the other teams’ top players.

Finally there is Roebothan, who came in a year earlier than expected as an emergency call-up to fill the hole left by Ben Walter‘s departure. Want to know how important Robo is to Lowell? He missed six games this year, and Lowell went 0-6-0 with 16 goals against and only eight for. With him in the lineup, the ‘Hawks were 17-9-2 with 93 goals for (3.32/gm) and 62 against (2.21/gm). His return coincided with Lowell’s startling 4-3 overtime win at BC, in which he set up Scott Campbell’s game-tying goal with just 45 seconds remaining.

All of which is a long, meandering, roundabout way of saying that we cannot believe how far these three players have come, each in their own way. We still clearly remember the days in which these three played on the same line. One memory in particular that will always stand out to us is a shift their line had in their first-ever game at Maine. Monroe, the centerman of the group, worked a 50-50 draw in the neutral zone and Potacco went over, dug it out, and dumped it into the far corner. What happened next was the three linemates proceeded to bury the puck behind Maine’s net for a good minute and a half and completely wore out the bigger, stronger, more skilled Black Bears they had just lined up opposite. As freshmen. In Orono. We said to ourselves then that, even if they never scored a point, they’d almost always have a spot in the lineup. Since then, they’ve missed a combined 49 of 432 man-games, and almost all due to injury.

All these guys did when they hopped over the boards was play excellent, honest, hard-working hockey. They showed up every day and contributed to the team in a positive manner. All three are good players and good guys as well. You couldn’t ask for three better River Hawks.

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