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Saturday thoughts: We could get used to this

October 25, 2009

Maybe the best part about Lowell’s play this weekend was that, even when things looked their bleakest, that was never very bleak at all.

After one good period and one bad period gave way to an excellent and commanding performance in the third on Friday, Lowell played what were more or less three good-to-excellent periods to walk away with a win, two league points and some reassurance that yeah, it might just be that easy after all.

The first period was a 20-minute feeling-out process in which both teams circled eachother like wary prizefighters, though Lowell’s probing jabs were more impressive. There were several times when a Lowell forward sent a pass out through the crease from behind the goal line or across the goalmouth to a player camped on the back door, only to have the intended receiver fan on the shot attempt. That’s not only indicative that Lowell was capable of putting up far more than the two goals it needed to win the game, but also that at this point they’re a bit too crafty even for themselves. It’s the kind of thing at which the team will get better as the season goes on, and result in the ‘Hawks pumping in more and more goals. But for all the effort, the teams were still locked in a goalless draw and, perhaps because of all the missed connections, that was a just scoreline through 20 minutes.

But in the second, Lowell did what it did in the third on Friday: simply steamrolled its opponents through the force of its will. Riley Wetmore scored the first goal of his college career just under five minutes in, redirecting a Ryan Blair point shot past Chris Rawlings (who, by the way, isn’t very impressive yet). And then, not satisfied with a mere one-goal lead, Lowell continued to pour on the pressure and it was just such pressure that led the Huskies to take a pair of penalties 12 seconds apart late in the period and sign their own death warrant.

At this point, Lowell’s power play was something like 4 for 18 for the season, and with a good number of those incredibly abbreviated (indeed, the first period of this game gave the ‘Hawks three power plays — the first two of which ended prematurely because they insisted on committing fouls of their own almost immediately — for a grand total of 3:08). It was all very exciting. But you’ll notice that scoring on 4 of 18 is also about 22.2 percent, and that, especially considering that the total time of those power plays is well under the 36 normal minutes it would take to play them out fully. So, one supposes, the plan against Lowell should be to not give them 5-on-3 chances as Northeastern did here. Because plays like Chris Auger-to-Nick Schaus-to-David Vallorani tic-tac-toe ping-pong goal are going to happen a lot, and it’s always going to be two-man-advantage finishing that’s worthy of Webster’s. Rawlings never stood a chance.

That was how it went through two and really, there isn’t much to say about the third period except that the result was never in doubt and Lowell made it tougher for itself than necessary. Three straight penalties by the team’s three best defensive defensemen — Schaus, Jeremy Dehner and Barry Goers — gave the Huskies 4:50 of consecutive power play time. We don’t care how good your team is relative to your opponent, you simply cannot play a man down for close to five minutes and expect to kill it all, especially when a not-insignificant percentage of that time is spent at 5-on-3. But the Huskies, not being nearly as good as the River Hawks in any facet of the game, made a pig’s ear out of most of their opportunities and only scored at the tail end of the power plays because Carter Hutton, from our vantage point, was simply gassed. It’s difficult to begrudge Tyler McNeely his goal because, frankly, it mattered not at all given the course of coming events.

You might have gone so far as to say Northeastern was mounting a modest comeback attempt (you’d be wrong, of course, but you might have done so), but Randy Guzior pretty much tanked that plan by drilling a River Hawk — Maury Edwards maybe? — into the boards from behind at 17:05 for a five-minute major and an early trip to the showers (plus a spot On the Radar, taking a spot from Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher), giving the ‘Hawks a power play for the game’s remaining 2:55. Northeastern never threatened again, and Lowell added an empty-netter from Paul Worthington and was denied what looked like another goal with about a second or two left because while the puck’s potentially crossing the goal line could have been reviewed, it really didn’t matter at all.

In the end, it was pretty much just a good result for a strong effort against a considerably weaker opponent. You can expect a bunch more of those as the season progresses, we’re sure.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Steve DeSimone permalink
    October 25, 2009 11:56 pm

    Great review of the game. Obviously always good when UML sweeps a weekend. I too expect the missed opportunities to become goals as the season progresses. Looking forward to next weekend.

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