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Friday thoughts: A bad 30 minutes

November 7, 2009

By its coach’s own admission, Vermont is a team that makes a lot of mistakes, and by that token, Lowell certainly played down to the level of its opponent.

The Catamounts were turning the puck over, taking bad and needless penalties and making shocking mental mistakes and it looked for all the world as if Lowell, leading by two on the road through 30 minutes, was on its way to yet another win. And then the stupid mistakes started.

Lowell was, to that point, dominant, and while it may not have carried a distinct advantage in shots, it certainly had the game by the scruff of the neck, with Catamount after Catamount making a bad play and then trying to smooth things over by taking a penalty as a result. This is, of course, not a smart tack against Lowell. The River Hawks’ power play was, at the time, 2 for 3, and Vermont had just taken another mental error penalty, conceding a power play thanks to a clear too-many-men call. It was here that Lowell could have delivered the death blow.

Leading a team, any team, by three goals is almost always going to be plenty for Lowell to lock a game down. So the River Hawks went on the power play and proceeded to get Vermont-stupid. In the span of 26 seconds, Lowell saw Nick Schaus go off for slashing and Scott Campbell go off for a trip, and the entire game changed. As it happens, you can’t go from standing on a team’s throat and having a power play to trying to kill a 4-on-3 in the space of less than half a minute without paying dire consequences.

Brayden Irwin scored less than a minute after his Catamounts went up a man and the game was, for all intents and purposes, over for Lowell. Vermont would add a goal in the third period and that was that.

The thing is this, too: Vermont did exactly what it did against Merrimack a few weeks ago. It started out strong, scoring something like seven minutes into the game to take a 1-0 lead, but absolutely fell apart after that. It was giving up power plays on real meathead plays, it was conceding goals left and right, it was playing back on its heels, and it was making ridiculous mistakes, the most egregious being Rob Madore taking off for the bench during a delayed call against his own team. And Lowell was, for the most part, making them pay for every one.

That is until that penalty halfway through the second, at which point a switch went off and Lowell started playing like morons. This, in short, is not the type of performance that is conducive to making the NCAA tournament, let alone doing well in it. Lowell cannot and should not be giving away points to crap teams like Vermont, regardless of venue and circumstance. They are simply not in the River Hawks’ league in net, at the blue line or up front, and to basically give away two points is entirely counterproductive. Put it this way: Lowell did not beat a team that Maine and Merrimack beat handily, and that is totally unacceptable.

When even their own coach is playing down expectations in a pregame chat with Bob Ellis (He said something to the effect of, “We make mistakes, but hockey is a game of mistakes.”), then this is a team that Lowell should have beaten walking away.

Granted, Vermont will always be somewhat more difficult to beat at their Gutterson Fieldhouse, but sub-.500 teams are sub-.500 for a reason, and it’s not because they’ve caught bad breaks. The Catamounts had, in the prior two weeks, been thoroughly outplayed by their two lowly opponents (though Merrimack looks a bit of a wrecking ball this year, they’re a team against whom someone like Vermont should still at least be competitive). The same cannot, unfortunately, be said of Lowell.

The River Hawks’ game plan on a week-to-week basis is going to be to get their opponents to play their game. When that works, it works well (see: the win at BU), but when it doesn’t, they give away points. Now they need to beat UNH on Sunday to salvage any dignity from what should have been a four-point weekend. That’s not where this team needs to be.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. walter permalink
    November 7, 2009 5:18 pm

    Lowell must suck if they tied Vermont especially after Merrimack and Maine pounded that team. LOL!!!!!!

    • RHHB permalink
      November 7, 2009 5:19 pm

      yes, we just said that.

  2. November 9, 2009 3:46 pm

    It appears that this inconsistency thing has spread throughout the entire UMass system.

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