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Weekend preview: Your favorite weekend of the year

January 15, 2010

The No. 15 Lowell River Hawks (12-7-2, 6-4-2 HE) vs. the No. 19 UMass Amherst Minutemen (12-8-0, 7-6-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Mullins Center, Amherst, Mass.
7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is tied for fourth in Hockey East with 14 points from 12 games and UMass Amherst is tied for fourth in Hockey East with 14 points from 13 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 6-5 (ot) at Northeastern, 2-2 (ot) at UNH, 1-2 vs. Northeastern
UMass Amherst — 4-1 at Northeastern, 2-7 at Northeastern, 3-7 at BU

Prior meetings
Lowell leads Amerst 31-19-6 all-time.

Season series
Lowell cruised past Amherst 5-3 in Lowell on Dec. 4 behind a killer final 30 minutes from David Vallorani, who had a hat trick, and Mike Scheu, who scored three points.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 21 GP, 11-9-20 (12 GP, 5-5-10 HE)
Scott Campbell — 21, 7-13-20 (12, 3-8-11)
Nick Schaus — 19, 4-16-20 (12, 3-11-14)
David Vallorani — 21, 7-11-18 (12, 4-7-11)
Paul Worthington — 21, 9-8-17 (12, 7-5-12)

UMass Amherst:
James Marcou — 20 GP, 6-28-34 (13 GP, 4-16-20 HE)
Casey Wellman — 20, 17-12-29 (13, 10-6-16)
Will Ortiz — 20, 10-11-21 (13, 7-7-14)
Justin Braun — 20, 3-15-18 (13, 2-11-13)
Matthew Irwin — 20, 5-11-16 (13, 3-8-11)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (7-5-0) — 12 GP, 721:59 minutes, 2.16 GAA/.926 sv% (6 GP, 365:08 minutes, 3.12 GAA/.904 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (5-2-2) — 9, 546:53, 2.52/.912 (6, 368:01, 2.61/.912 HE)

UMass Amherst:
Paul Dainton* (10-7-0) — 17 GP, 997:43 minutes, 2.77 GAA/.911 sv% (12 GP, 716:44, 2.93 GAA/.906 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (21 games) — 70 goals for (3.33/gm), 50 goals against (2.38/gm). Power play 23/100 (23.0%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 79/96 (82.3%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (12 games) — 42 goals for (3.50/gm), 36 goal against (3.00/gm). Power play 14/59 (23.7%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 45/58 (77.6%, 0 SHGF)

UMass Amherst:
Overall (20 games) — 69 goals for (3.45/gm), 63 goals against (3.15/gm). Power play 25/97 (25.8%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 61/78 (78.2%, 1 SHGF)
HE (13 games) — 43 goals for (3.31/gm), 43 goals against (3.31/gm). Power play 19/70 (27.1%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 37/48 (77.1%, 1 SHGF)

Outlook

Last Sunday, obviously, we were hoping that Northeastern, as it had the night before, would be able to give its opponent a game. Of course, since this was Northeastern we were counting on, and Northeastern is synonymous with going out of its way to be as useless to us as physically possible, this was not how things shook out.

Instead, they rolled over for an Amherst side that had, in successive games, lost to Bentley, BU and UNH (though to be fair, all on the road) by a combined score of 18-6. While the Minutemen aren’t exactly a team of which Lowell should be frightened, it would seem that, at the same time, they are not incapable of playing well, especially at home. There may be a slim margin between its goals for and against overall — a plus-6 from 20 games isn’t exactly anything about which to write home, especially given the (one-line) offense the Minutemen boast — but again, we must be fair and say that the goal differential is better at home insofar as it not negative.

To put it more clearly, Amherst has allowed more than it has scored away from home (40 for and 42 against in 11 games) but is a better plus-8 in its nine games at home. What this says to us is that Lowell shouldn’t count on a win in Amherst tomorrow night. Of course, we know better than to think like that. Amherst hasn’t beaten Lowell at the Mullins Center since Jan. 12, 2007, a run of four games over 1,098 days. And so, while it is probably not impossible for Lowell to lose to Amherst out thattaway, it is certainly rather improbable as Lowell has history on its side.

The game in Lowell should be the better of the two as, for whatever reason, games in Amherst have tended to be a bit sloppy the last few years (but the results are fine by us!). Lowell looked timid in the first go-round this year, at least to start, but then came out for the latter half of the game with a fury we’ve probably not seen matched since except, we suppose, in the first half of the Northeastern game last week.

Let’s be honest. Lowell can handle UMass Amherst no problem. We’re talking about a team that lost to Bentley by THREE goals. So really, this is a weekend in which Lowell needs four points to elbow itself free of the braying pack behind it and push into what is hopefully third place. Four points is what it would need to get it done. So how about they do that, then?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2010 4:15 am

    How far back does this series go? thanks!

    • RHHB permalink*
      January 15, 2010 7:39 pm

      about 56 games by the look of things

  2. George permalink
    January 15, 2010 8:10 pm

    Good info, but I was at the Bentley game. UMass left it all on the ice their comeback the night before vs. Union and Bentley’s goalie was phenomenal. They (Bentley) are a better team than Providence and perhaps Merrimack. It was a 1-1 game until late and there was an empty netter.
    Yes, Lowell should at least split or sweep UMass, but don’t hang it on stuff like that. Right ideas, wrong reasons.

  3. Smitty permalink
    January 17, 2010 5:11 pm

    Boy does this look silly now. Stop underrating Umass Amherst. You can say what you want, but they won the season series against you, have a better Hockey East record than you, have a better overall record than you. Lowell dominated much of the game Saturday (the second period partcularly), but UMass (if you are being unbiased), was clearly the better team on the ice Friday night. And Lowell didn’t “cruise” past Amherst in the first meeting. They made a great comeback after being down 2-0 early, and they were the better team the last 30 minutes for sure, and deserved to win that game. But you thinking Lowell shouldn’t be afraid of Amherst? Dead wrong. In hockey east play, Amherst is a +2, Lowell is a +4. So much for the huge gap between the teams. On the road, Lowell is a +4…which seems good, except if you throw out Alabama Huntsville (one of the worst teams in the country) then they are -3. Check your facts before you start handing out “easy” victories over “lesser” opponents.

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