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Friday thoughts: Well

January 9, 2010

In theory at least, Lowell should have won this game. But we don’t hate that they didn’t.

It’s kind of hard to explain. Perhaps we’re just so used to Lowell losing in Durham that any not-losing is, almost by default, instantly acceptable. Or perhaps it’s just hard to expect a win, especially in Durham, when Lowell only scores two goals. Make no mistake, we think Lowell is a superior team to UNH and all, but as this little offensive rut gets ever-longer, we suppose that a point from the league leaders on the road isn’t the worst result in the world.

And really, there’s not much to take from this loss that we didn’t say last week about the Northeastern game. Kory Falite continues his torrid scoring pace with another goal, and that’s one in each of his last three four games. Lowell continues to get strong goaltending as Carter Hutton Nevin Hamilton made 23 24 saves. A lack of discipline cost the team a win thanks to Mike Budd’s third-period boarding hitting from behind penalty that led to Jake Newton’s Phil DeSimone’s goal on the ensuing power play.

So we guess we can say this: Stop hitting people from behind in the third period, Mike Budd.

Bob Ellis certainly sounded aggrieved by the call on the radio, and we got the impression that the same was true of the UNH announcers from what we’ve read, but the argument in both cases was that the call should have only been for a two-minute minor rather than a major resulting in Budd getting the gate. And that’s all well and good, except the DeSimone goal came 1:47 into the UNH power play, so it simply doesn’t matter one way or the other.

One thing to note, by the way, is that Ryan Blair seems to have shed himself of the overall uselessness that has plagued him for the better part of the season. While the biggest surprise of the game is that both Lowell goals came from his booming point shots — Falite corralled the first on the rebound and Colin Wright tipped the second — a separate surprise, nearly as big, is that Blair is aware that he can shoot from the point at all. If you’ll recall, our midseason look at the team listed Blair as the team’s biggest disappointment, but we’ve also noted in the past that we’re big fans of his, so the hope is that last night’s performance is indicative of how Blair will play down the stretch. He can be a very valuable player when he gets it together, so this is certainly a giant leap in the proper direction.

The same can be said of Scott Campbell, of whom we’ve come to expect so much and who has as yet not delivered upon the promise of his sophomore campaign. Last night he had a secondary assist on both Lowell goals, and they were his first points since the Friday game against Princeton. Much of Lowell’s success in the latter half of last season was incumbent upon Campbell’s ability to create goals either by scoring them himself or through setting them up. If he can wake up then we think Lowell’s going to be able to start rolling, and soon.

After all, the feeling we got is that Lowell should have won this game last night. It had the better chances (andagoalcalledbackbecausethewhistlehadallgedlygonewherehaveweheardthatbefore?) and certainly could have been leading by a few goals halfway through the game. But to enter into the third period at the Whitt with a one-goal lead? Well, what did they think was going to happen? We’re all for believing in the team we support, but at some point pragmatism has to dictate that Lowell, especially in this scoring rut, can’t sit on one-goal leads against the top team in Hockey East.

Is this an unfair result for Lowell? Sure it is. It had the lion’s share of chances and, while it didn’t convert most of them (exceptonthatonebutwho’scounting?), it limited UNH to two goals for the second time in a row. It takes a strong effort to hold a talented offense like that, which had, apart from its games with Lowell, scored 28 goals in its prior seven Hockey East games.

This wasn’t a crowing achievement for Lowell by any means, but it was a strong(ish) start to the second half. And while you might not agree with that, and we wouldn’t blame you, you have to at least see this as something upon which to build. The offense has sputtered of late and it’s cost the team several wins, but if the right people are starting to get going, then we’ll grudgingly take this game.

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