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Weekend preview: Our hand was made strong

December 4, 2009

The No. 8 Lowell River Hawks (8-4-1, 4-3-1 HE) vs. the New Hampshire Wildcats (5-6-3, 5-2-2 HE) and the No. 9 UMass Amherst Minutemen (9-3-0, 5-2-0 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Whittemore Center, Durham, N.H.
7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is tied for fourth in Hockey East with nine points from eight games, UNH is first in Hockey East with 12 points from nine games and Amherst is tied for second with 10 points from seven games.

Last three games
Lowell — 1-3 vs. Maine, 2-4 at Providence, 6-3 vs. Merrimack
UNH — 5-4 at Merrimack, 3-3 at BU, 4-2 vs. BU
UMass Amherst — 4-5 (ot) at Quinnipiac, 6-2 at Vermont, 4-3 (ot) at Yale

Prior meetings
Lowell trails UNH 30-50-14 and leads Amherst 30-19-6 all-time.

Season series
Lowell leads UNH 1-0-0 and has not met Amherst yet.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Scott Campbell — 13 GP, 5-8-13 (8 GP, 2-3-5 HE)
Nick Schaus — 11, 4-8-12 (8, 3-6-9)
Kory Falite — 13, 6-5-11 (8, 3-2-5)
Paul Worthington — 13, 6-5-11 (8, 5-4-9)
Chris Auger — 13, 4-7-11 (8, 5-4-9)

UNH:
Bobby Butler — 14 GP, 12-9-21 (9 GP, 9-7-16 HE)
Blake Kessel — 13, 3-12-15 (9, 1-9-10)
Paul Thompson — 14, 7-7-14 (9, 6-6-12)
Peter LeBlanc — 14, 4-8-12 (9, 3-4-7)
Phil DeSimone — 14, 4-8-12 (9, 2-8-10)

UMass Amherst:
James Marcou — 12 GP, 4-19-23 (7 GP, 2-11-13 HE)
Casey Wellman — 12, 11-9-20 (7, 6-4-10)
Will Ortiz — 12, 4-9-13 (7, 2-5-7)
Justin Braun — 12, 3-10-13 (7, 2-6-8)
Matthew Irwin — 12, 5-5-10 (7, 3-3-6)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (4-3-0) — 7 GP, 419:51 minutes, 2.29 GAA/.918 sv% (4 GP, 241:51 minutes, 2.98 GAA/.907 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (4-1-1) — 6, 363:01, 2.48/.916 (4, 241:51, 2.98/.907 HE)

UNH:
Brian Foster (5-6-3) — 14 GP, 822:09 minutes, 3.72 GAA/.885 sv% (9 GP, 551:18, 3.16 GAA/.894 sv% HE)

UMass Amherst:
Paul Dainton (7-3-0) — 10 GP, 580:59 minutes, 2.48 GAA/.925 sv% (7 GP, 418:49, 2.72 GAA/.917 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (13 games) — 46 goals for (3.54/gm), 32 goals against (2.46/gm). Power play 16/71 (22.5%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 42/51 (82.4%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (8 games) — 28 goals for (3.51/gm), 24 goal against (3.00/gm). Power play 12/44 (27.3%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 27/35 (77.1%, 0 SHGF)

UNH:
Overall (14 games) — 46 goals for (3.29/gm), 53 goals against (3.79/gm). Power play 11/62 (17.7%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 47/62 (75.8%, 2 SHGF)
Hockey East (9 games) — 35 goals for (3.89/gm), 29 goals against (3.22/gm). Power play 8/34 (23.5%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 27/39 (69.2%, 1 SHGF)

UMass Amherst:
Overall (12 games) — 47 goals for (3.92/gm), 32 goals against (3.67/gm). Power play 16/56 (28.6%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 32/41 (82.9%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (7 games) — 26 goals for (3.71/gm), 19 goals against (2.71/gm). Power play 10/34 (29.4%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 15/19 (78.9%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook

It’s not that Lowell should win these two games (and by the way, it should), it’s that Lowell has to win these games.

Lowell should’ve killed Providence and handled Maine with ease, and instead the ‘Hawks turned in a pair of effort-deficient nights that were, to put it nicely, eye-bleedingly awful. So of course it’s appropriate that the next two opponents to come down the line were unranked-but-suddenly-red-hot New Hampshire and ranked-and-extremely-dangerous UMass Amherst. Of course.

Those that delighted in the two losses, and we know who they are, see this as a potential harbinger of Lowell’s early and much-anticipated demise. They’re salivating over the prospect of this team’s fall from supposedly undeserved grace. And frankly, some Lowell fans have had the same attitude this week, though they may not share the same level of glee as these other scavengers. How they carry on, on message boards, on blogs, on the quote-unquote radio.

But if they’re looking for carrion, because dead and dying pickings are the easiest, and their crap teams need all the help they can get, they might wanna pass right by Lowell. We have reason to be optimistic, we think. There’s no way, with a full week of practices, Blaise MacDonald didn’t crack the whip more times than a skipping DVD copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark. He was put into a position where he was forced to let the kids have it. Bag skates. Several of ’em. Video meetings. Lots of ’em. He cannot let these injustices go unpunished is our point.

Regardless of result this weekend — and again, four points makes a hell of a goddamn statement to the league — Lowell’s not in a position where the decision to roll over and die like it did twice last week is anything approaching acceptable. Two games is just that. Especially when those games are in November. Look at every team’s body of work this season: BC has taken games off. BU has too. Maine. UNH. Providence. Northeastern. Vermont. Merrimack. Even the mighty UMass Amherst Minutemen are not above sleepwalking through a game.

So how is Lowell better or worse than these teams in that regard? Top to bottom, the River Hawks are still the most dangerous side in a league with a couple of them. Two admittedly regrettable games in November don’t change that. We would love for UNH and Amherst to take Lowell as lightly as these internet clowns have. Because Lowell is the same team it was two weeks ago: fearsome, grim and mighty.

And it would beat them by a combined score of 14-2.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan permalink
    December 5, 2009 2:15 am

    Tomorrow night is a HUMONGOUS game for both teams. Should be fantastic.

  2. December 5, 2009 6:40 am

    What internet clowns are taking Lowell lightly?

    • Ryan permalink
      December 5, 2009 9:09 am

      the writers from USCHO haven’t really been giving Lowell too much love recently. also some of the predicted outcomes from USCHO posters in this weeks Hockey East Pick-em has Lowell dropping 2 this weekend.

    • justin permalink
      December 5, 2009 3:09 pm

      Settle down…they mentioned earlier in the post that people in general (and some UML fans?) have been fired up after the two losses. I’d presume they are refering to the fine UVM contingent on USCHO and other similar trodlodyte posters.

      I certainly haven’t seen much disrespect on umasshoops, although I’m starting to wonder about a few of the infrequent posters.

      I really hope both teams show up to play, it will be a great game. Of course 4 game losing streaks > 3 game losing streaks. :)

  3. Keith permalink
    December 5, 2009 12:23 pm

    What the F is going on with Lowell?

    Total effort for 60 minutes and wins matter, period!

    Any behavior, attitude or outcome less than this is unacceptable and speaks directions to the character and commitment of team, program and fans.

  4. December 6, 2009 5:05 am

    Congratulations on the win.

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