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Weekend preview: Outside in the cold distance…

March 12, 2009

The UMass Lowell River Hawks (17-15-2, 14-11-2 HE) vs. the No. 7 Vermont Catamounts (20-9-5, 15-8-4 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.
7 p.m. Saturday at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.
7 p.m. Sunday at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt. (if necessary)

All-time head-to-head Lowell trails Vermont 9-12-2.

Lowell finished fifth in Hockey East with 30 points from 27 games and Vermont finished fourth in Hockey East with 34 points from 27 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 6-0 vs. Maine, 5-3 vs. Maine, 1-3 vs. Northeastern
Vermont — 5-6 (ot) vs. UNH, 6-4 vs. UNH, 2-1 at Maine

Prior meetings
In the second-worst Hockey East effort of the year, Lowell lost to Vermont 3-1 on Nov. 8 at Tsongas Arena. Lowell went 1 for 9 on the power play (ugh) while the Catamounts were 2 for 8. Ben Holmstrom had the lone goal for the River Hawks. Rob Madore made 25 saves in the win, and Nevin Hamilton took the loss, surrendering three goals on just 19 shots.

In Vermont, however, Lowell got two goals from Mike Scheu to stage an unlikely comeback and claw out a 3-3 draw on Feb. 20. Scott Campbell also scored for Lowell and Hamilton struggled at times but still got the win.

The next night, Vermont played a tight checking game and held Lowell to just 13 shots, but Carter Hutton, with the help of an unassisted shorthanded goal from Paul Worthington, made 21 saves to earn the shutout to earn Lowell three of four points on the weekend.

Season series
Lowell and Vermont split 1-1-1.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Maury Edwards — 34 GP, 10-17-27 (27 GP, 9-16-25 HE)
Scott Campbell — 34, 11-13-24 (27, 6-11-17)
David Vallorani — 34, 8-16-24 (27, 7-12-19)
Jeremy Dehner — 32, 3-20-23 (27, 3-17-20)
Kory Falite — 27, 14-8-22 (20, 10-5-15)

Vermont:
Viktor Stalberg — 34 GP, 22-18-40 (27 GP, 19-15-34 HE)
Peter Lenes — 34, 13-16-29 (27, 9-10-19)
Brian Roloff — 34, 10-17-27 (27, 9-14-23)
Dean Strong — 34, 4-19-23 (27, 3-13-16)
Justin Milo — 34, 10-12-22 (27, 4-9-13)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (7-8-1) — 17 GP, 964:35 minutes, 2.05 GAA/.916 sv% (12 GP, 667:58 minutes, 2.25 GAA/.910 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (9-6-1) — 17, 994:50, 2.23/.922 (16, 934:54, 2.18/.926)

Vermont:
Rob Madore (13-7-4) — 24 GP, 1,463:25 minutes, 2.30 GAA/.915 sv% (20 GP, 1,216:13 minutes, 2.32 GAA/.913 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (34 games) — 101 goals for (2.97/gm), 78 goals against (2.29/gm). Power play 34/176 (19.3%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 144/164 (87.8%, 5 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 84 GF (3.11/gm), 66 GA (2.44/gm). Power play 26/132 (19.7%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 122/137 (89.1%, 5 SHGF)

Vermont:
Overall (34 games) — 105 goals for (3.09/gm), 86 goals against (2.53/gm). Power play 30/166 (18.1%, 6 SHGA), penalty kill 147/182 (80.8%, 4 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 78 (2.89/gm), 69 GA (2.56/gm). Power play 22/124 (17.7%, 4 SHGA), 110/140 (78.6%, 4 SHGF)

Lowell’s head-to-head leaders vs. Vermont
Ben Holmstrom — 9 GP, 1-4-5
Mark Roebothan — 12, 2-3-5
Kory Falite — 8, 3-1-4
Jeremy Dehner — 9, 0-4-4
Mike Pottaco — 10, 2-2-4

Carter Hutton (2-3-1) — 6 GP, 361:56 minutes, 1.99 GAA/.912, 1 SHO
Nevin Hamilton (0-2-1) — 3, 181:19, 2.32/.897, 0

Lowell’s playoff leaders:
Lowell:
Paul Worthington — 3 GP, 2-3-5
Kory Falite — 3, 2-1-3
Maury Edwards — 3, 1-2-3
Ben Holmstrom — 3, 1-1-2
Scott Campbell — 3, 1-1-2

Carter Hutton (1-2-0) — 3 GP, 177:16 minutes, 3.05 GAA/.911 sv%, 0 SHO

Outlook
Last year, a fledgling Lowell team put a bit of a fright into the Hockey East establishment by taking BU to three games, having a two-goal lead in all of them, before finally succumbing to the Terriers’ wealth of experience and talent.

This year, little about the circumstances which surround this weekend is different, except that Lowell is older, deeper, better and more confident. While Lowell tried to gain entrance to the doors to the top four in Hockey East, it ultimately fell just short, splintering the doors with a frighteningly strong kick here and there, but never breaking them. Lowell will get another chance to do so this weekend.

This is it.

The River Hawks, these lone riders, will be crashing the inhospitable gates of the Gutterson Fieldhouse this weekend looking to usurp Vermont as one of Hockey East’s four best teams. And they are positively brimming with confidence.

Just three weeks ago, Lowell gave Vermont a taste of what it can expect starting tomorrow night, storming into Burlington, where Vermont had lost just two games in Hockey East all year, and raging back out again with three of four possible points that went a long way to solidifying Lowell’s fifth-place league finish. There are some, of course, that scoff. That write off Vermont’s inability to close down the ‘Hawks as an “off weekend” and point out that the Catamounts’ earlier 3-1 win in Lowell was, obviously, a better representation of what lay ahead.

But it is, of course, important to keep in mind that since Lowell’s current junior class began, it is a whopping 2-1-2 at Vermont and, even in the games it has tied the Catamounts, has controlled a good portion. For some reason, Vermont seems rather unable to close Lowell down in the way that it can against other Hockey East teams. In the past three years, Lowell’s winning percentage in Burlington is .600. Everyone else in Hockey East wins 37.5 percent of their games up there, which speaks well to Vermont’s ability to use the home rink and crowd to its advantage.

But it doesn’t have either luxury this week, since Lowell so clearly gets results in Burlington when other teams cannot, and Vermont’s students are going to be off for Spring Break this week. The fearsome Gutterson crowd will be noticably quieter and that makes things all the easier for Lowell as well.

While Lowell historically doesn’t score much against the Catamounts and vice versa (Lowell allows 2.11 GA/g and scores just 1.56 overall in the last three years, but it’s a much more palatable 2.00 against and 2.20 for in Burlington), it does have a number of players that are simply monstrous in the playoffs. Paul Worthington, for example, scored five points in three games against BU last year. Kory Falite and Maury Edwards, too, were both point-a-game players in that series. Vermont, meanwhile, has a few players that are right around that total (Viktor Stalberg, Peter Lenes and Dean Strong, you’ll be shocked to learn), but they have also shown themselves to be more than up for a nice, strong no-show in the playoffs as well.

Last year, Vermont scored two goals in the first 123:33 of playoff hockey against Northeastern before scoring seven in their next 120, and none in the following 60. The year before that, it scored five in 189:22. The year before, it was four in 130:31. In total, that’s 18 goals for in 10 playoff games, three of which went to overtime. Come on, 18 goals in 623:26? Pathetic. That’s 1.73 GF per 60 minutes of hockey. Frankly, that’s not going to cut it.

And that’s why Lowell, starting tomorrow night, will begin to truly threaten the Hockey East establishment. This is the most winnable series Lowell could have drawn from the top four teams in the league this year.

So let us not talk falsely now, Vermont fans. Your hour is getting late.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Monty permalink
    March 13, 2009 2:11 pm

    Lowell’s record is 17-15-2. :)

    Go Hawks!

  2. The 'Hawks blog permalink
    March 13, 2009 2:18 pm

    yes, we plum forgot to update it

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