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Friday thoughts: Hope you people know just what it is

October 24, 2009

After a strong if indecisive first period and a disagreeable second, Lowell decided enough was enough and straight up handled its business in the third.

While certainly not an ideal opening 40 minutes, the win was, of course, well-deserved, and frankly, the 5-3 scoreline flattered the visiting Colgate side that seemed, at times, completely lost and baffled by what Lowell presented to it.

Take that first period, just as a ferinstance. The entire Lowell team came out with their hair on fire, flying around the ice and hitting literally every player they possibly could. We said about two minutes into the first period that, because of just how aggressive, mean and punishing the ‘Hawks were being with the Raiders, who could do nothing but absorb checks after dumping whichever pucks they were unfortunate enough to have come to them, this would eventually cause a late-game breakdown. And indeed, the first breakdown came sooner than we thought when Christian Long’s hit from behind gave way to a Lowell power play in which David Vallorani tried to stuff a wraparound past Alex Evin and Scott Campbell shoveled it over the goalie’s pad for a lead less than five minutes into the game. It was in many ways a perfect start, but Lowell seems to enjoy giving up goals soon after scoring one for some reason, so Colgate’s equalizer just under three minutes later was simply disappointing but not especially surprising. But Campbell scored his third goal in as many games toward the end of the period to get Lowell back on top, so who are we to judge?

Certainly, a score of 2-1 through one period was acceptable. But Lowell seemed to get complacent with it, and instead of finishing checks and expertly breaking the puck out of its own zone, it chose to fiddle around, hit no one, and allow whatever breakouts it attempted to be turned back again and again by an impressive Colgate forecheck. This change in attitude was especially noticeable when Francois Brisebois came in one-on-one against Nick Schaus — not typically where an opposing forward would like to find himself — and Schaus simply backed off and backed off and backed off until Brisebois had a wide open shot and beat Nevin Hamilton to level again. It was probably the worst one-on-one play we’ve seen Schaus make in at least the last season, because normally Colgate’s trainer would have had to go retrieve Brisebois’ head from the 13th row of Section B.

Schaus would, however, be presented an opportunity to redeem himself a few minutes later. With the teams playing 4-on-4, three quarters of the first unit did a great job of burying the puck in the corner to Evin’s left. So effective was its work, in fact, that it drew all four defenders to the puck and left Schaus camping all alone at the top of the opposite faceoff circle and the puck, miraculously, slid right to him. He skated in on Evin uncontested and fired a very nice wrister, which Evin unfortunately gloved. That shot, we think, will haunt Schaus for awhile.

Not long after that, though, Colgate attempted what had to have been its 47th stretch pass of the night and this time, it inexplicably worked. With a Lowell defender standing right beside him, Robbie Bourdon collected a puck from Thomas Larkin, skated in with said defender somehow a stride and a half in slipstream, and beat Hamilton to put his team up 3-2.

Now granted, Lowell didn’t help its own cause by giving the Raiders three power plays in the period, especially given that two were pretty much back-to-back, but one supposes that the success of those kills, especially the one following Colgate’s third goal, helped stop the bleeding and shove the momentum back in Lowell’s direction. That, plus whatever Blaise MacDonald screamed at them in the dressing room during the second intermission, was more than enough ammo for the last period.

Lowell once again came out guns ablaze. Hits everywhere from everyone. Bodies creating traffic out front. Dominant board play. The ‘Hawks certainly had it together, but they just couldn’t score. It’s fortunate, then, that Colgate, so worn down from being pummeled at every turn, started making mental mistakes and taking markedly stupid penalties. The Raiders’ second of the period gave Schaus his true redemption, as he netted his first of the year at 10:48 and made the declaration that Lowell would, in fact, be winning this game.

The second goal of the period, Colin Wright’s first collegiate goal in his first collegiate game on a scrum in front of the net eerily reminiscent of The Non-Goal 2:22 later, stood up as the game-winner even without the senseless use of video review necessitated by Tim Low’s inexplicable insistence that the goal should not have counted (of course it should have, and rightly did). And the third goal, David Vallorani’s oh-so-pretty wrister 33 seconds after that, was as hilarious an exclamation point on Lowell’s “THAT’S how you play in the third period!” statement as imaginable. There’s not a goalie anywhere on the planet that would’ve plucked that one out of midair. It was picturesque, and we had noted just several minutes prior that Vallorani really needed to shoot the puck more. The take-home there: listen to yer boys more often.

So what did we get from this game? That Lowell is a lethal team, capable of piling on the goals when it puts its mind to it, but also that maybe it hasn’t yet figured out just what makes games go perfectly for them for the full 60 minutes. That was the key to BU’s tremendous run of seven championships from seven tries last season, and that’s something on which Lowell’s going to have to lean quite a bit in the coming weeks and months. Loved the start, loved the finish, weren’t so crazy about the middle. If the ‘Hawks can get the start to last longer and the finish to begin sooner, then what’s to stop them from razing every barn in Hockey East and leaving a trail of their opponents’ broken dreams in their wake?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    October 25, 2009 12:09 pm

    You comment about how Schaus’s hits would normally leave the opposing player in row 13 of section B was funny. I was sitting in that row of that section. What would I have done if that player came flying into that section? Great comeback by UML!

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