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Championship preview: It had to BU

March 21, 2009

The No. 19 Lowell River Hawks (20-15-2, 17-11-2 HE) vs. the No. 2 Boston University Terriers (30-6-4, 21-6-4 HE)

7 p.m. Saturday at TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Mass.

All-time head-to-head Lowell trails BU 16-57-8. BU leads the all-time postseason series 9-1-0.

Lowell finished fifth in Hockey East with 30 points from 27 games and BU finished first in Hockey East with 40 points from 27 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-2 (ot) vs. Northeastern, 4-2 at Vermont, 4-3 (ot) at Vermont
BU — 3-2 vs. Boston College, 6-2 vs. Maine, 3-6 vs. Maine

Prior meetings
Lowell has lost a pair of heartbreakers to BU this year. It first lost 6-4 on Nov. 7 behind a late surge led by Colin Wilson and Co., despite having controlled the vast majority of the game and led for all but a few minutes. In the final game before break on Dec. 12, Lowell led twice but surrendered a goal late in the first period, another less than a minute after scoring the go-ahead goal once again, and then gave up a power play goal in the third to lose the game 3-2.

In the third meeting of the season, BU used its superior power play and ability to capitalize on mistakes to win 5-3 at home, primarily on the strength of its second line.

Season series
Lowell was swept 0-3-0.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Maury Edwards — 37 GP, 12-18-30 (27 GP, 9-16-25 HE)
Scott Campbell — 37, 13-16-29 (27, 6-11-17)
David Vallorani — 37, 9-18-27 (27, 7-12-19)
Jeremy Dehner — 37, 3-23-26 (27, 3-17-20)
Kory Falite — 30, 14-8-22 (20, 10-5-15)

Boston University:
Colin Wilson — 38 GP, 15-35-50 (27 GP, 10-25-35 HE)
Nick Bonino — 39, 16-28-44 (27, 9-21-30)
Chris Higgins — 37, 12-28-40 (27, 11-16-27)
Brandon Yip — 40, 18-20-38 (27, 12-11-23)
Jason Lawrence — 39, 21-13-34 (27, 14-10-24)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (9-8-1) — 19 GP, 1,106:15 minutes, 2.06 GAA/.916 sv% (12 GP, 667:58 minutes, 2.25 GAA/.910 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (10-6-1) — 18, 1,054:50, 2.22/.922 (16, 934:54, 2.18/.926)

Boston University:
Kieran Millan (24-2-3) — 30 GP, 1,763:46 minutes, 1.91 GAA/.920 sv% (20 GP, 1,164:33 minutes, 1.80 GAA/.923 sv% HE)
Grant Rollheiser (6-4-1) — 12, 647:47, 2.13/.897 (9, 467:54, 2.31/.897)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (37 games) — 112 goals for (3.03/gm), 85 goals against (2.30/gm). Power play 38/190 (20.0%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 154/176 (87.5%, 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)

Boston University:
Overall (40 games) — 157 goals for (3.92/gm), 80 goals against (2.00/gm). Power play 52/234 (22.2%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 207/238 (87.0%, 9 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 103 (3.81/gm), 54 GA (2.00/gm). Power play 37/158 (23.4%, 2 SHGA), 139/157 (88.5%, 3 SHGF)

Lowell’s head-to-head leaders vs. BU
Maury Edwards — 9 GP, 6-4-10
Kory Falite — 12, 4-3-7
Paul Worthington — 9, 2-4-6
Ben Holmstrom — 9, 2-4-6
Mark Roebothan — 14, 3-3-6

Carter Hutton (2-5-1) — 9 GP, 463:15 minutes, 2.98 GAA/.901
Nevin Hamilton (1-1-1) —5, 250:55, 3.48/.895, 1 SHO

Lowell’s playoff leaders:
Lowell:
Paul Worthington — 6 GP, 2-6-8
Scott Campbell — 6, 4-4-8
Maury Edwards — 6, 1-4-5
David Vallorani — 3, 1-2-3
Kory Falite — 6, 2-1-3

Carter Hutton (3-2-0) — 5 GP, 328:56 minutes, 2.55 GAA/.911 sv%
Nevin Hamilton (1-0-0) — 1, 60:00, 2.00/.917

Outlook
This is no time to stop.

Lowell has rolled through its last three playoff games with what the team describes as “supreme confidence.” Vermont was a team dubbed unlikely to concede Lowell many opportunities in the inhospitable Gutterson Fieldhouse, and it bowed before the might of the River Hawk attack. Northeastern, backstopped by the Hockey East Player of the Year seemed a team of destiny with the manner in which it trundled its way past UMass Amherst last week, and it too was forced to submit to Lowell’s superior work ethic.

And now it comes to this: Boston University, since September heralded as heir apparent to Boston College’s Hockey East and National title hopes. So far, these Terriers have lived up to their billing. But the road to those aspirations runs right through the hottest team in the league, our Lowell River Hawks, and yours as well.

Only two teams swept Lowell in the regular season. They were, of course, Northeastern (and we saw how the final meeting turned out when the chips were down) and Boston University. That Lowell would have to run through each to get to its first Hockey East title seems to be the cruel joke of an unloving, cold Hockey God. But we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Frankly, despite the poor results this year, BU scares us not at all. The numbers may look bad, but we think one would be hard-pressed to come across a team that played BU tougher with greater consistency than did Lowell. Besides, what about the semifinal game against its archrival Boston College Eagles, apart from that furious 44 seconds, showed you anything to fear from these Terriers? They were often disinterested and careless, and Lowell can make them pay for that listlessness. The same, apparently, can be said of the Terriers’ first two games against Maine, which they split in the record books but lost 7-5 on aggregate. Can a team that gave up eight goals to Maine last weekend really be THAT terrifying?

Granted, there will be little room for error on Lowell’s part. The BC result shows clearly that, when given an opening, the Terriers will punish their opponents. So the gameplan is simple: outwork BU for 60 minutes and see what happens. Will, after all, beats skill.

Boston University is not indestructible. Jack Parker is not infallible. Kieran Millan is not unimpregnable. Colin Wilson is not invincible. And that’s because Lowell is indefatigable. No team does more with less in Hockey East than do our dear River Hawks, of whom we are so prideful and in whom we are so confident.

You want the title, BU? Come and take it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 21, 2009 6:03 am

    The Terriers didn’t take chances tonight, but I didn’t see a lot of carelessness. NU was careless, and UML had a ton of chances tonight, and didn’t make them pay until OT. UML needs to step it up big time to have a shot.

  2. Jay permalink
    March 22, 2009 2:57 am

    Congrats on a good season. Hopefully this team can carry this over to next year and be a top 4 team consistently.

    And hopefully the trustees will finally give this team the resources it needs. From trying to kill the program to the HE finals- its been an amazing run. Lets hope it continues.

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