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Weekend preview: Coming back to you

January 21, 2010

The No. 19 Lowell River Hawks (12-7-2, 6-4-2 HE) vs. the Merrimack Warriors (7-12-0, 4-8-0 HE) and the No. 11 Boston College Eagles (12-6-2, 9-4-2 HE)

vs. Merrimack 7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.
vs. BC 7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is fifth in Hockey East with 14 points from 14 games, Merrimack is last in Hockey East with eight points from 12 games and BC is second in Hockey East with 20 points from 15 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 1-2 vs. UMass Amherst, 2-3 at UMass Amherst, 6-5 (ot) at Northeastern
Merrimack — 4-6 at BU, 2-4 at Maine, 1-5 at Ferris State
Boston College — 6-1 vs. Maine, 4-1 vs. Providence, 2-3 vs. BU

Prior meetings
Lowell leads Merrimack 65-31-8 and trails BC 29-52-7, all-time.

Season series
Lowell cruised past Merrimack 6-3 in Lowell on Nov. 21. That was the night Chris Auger had five points and was unstoppable. Lowell has not yet played the Eagles this year.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 23 GP, 11-9-20 (14 GP, 5-5-10 HE)
Scott Campbell — 23, 7-13-20 (14, 3-8-11)
David Vallorani — 23, 7-13-20 (14, 4-9-13)
Nick Schaus — 21, 4-16-20 (14, 3-11-14)
Paul Worthington — 23, 9-8-17 (14, 7-5-12)

Merrimack:
Stephane Da Costa — 17 GP, 11-12-23 (12 GP, 5-10-25 HE)
Chris Barton — 19, 10-10-20 (12, 4-8-12)
Joe Cucci — 19, 3-13-16 (12, 3-8-11)
Pat Bowen — 19, 1-11-12 (12, 0-6-6)
Karl Stollery — 17, 2-8-10 (10, 1-5-6)

Boston College:
Brian Gibbons — 20 GP, 9-15-24 (15 GP, 6-13-19 HE)
Cam Atkinson — 20, 13-9-22 (15, 10-7-17)
Joe Whitney — 20, 7-10-17 (15, 5-7-12)
Ben Smith — 20, 10-6-16 (15, 8-4-12)
Carl Sneep — 20, 6-10-16 (15, 5-8-13)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (7-6-0) — 13 GP, 781:19 minutes, 2.15 GAA/.924 sv% (7 GP, 424:28 minutes, 2.97 GAA/.902 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (5-3-2) — 10, 606:09, 2.57/.913 (7, 427:17, 2.67/.913 HE)

Merrimack:
Joe Cannata (3-8-0) — 11 GP, 633:20 minutes, 3.69 GAA/.880 sv% (7 GP, 395:08 minutes, 3.49 GAA/.878 sv% HE)
Andrew Braithwaite (4-4-0) — 9, 497:28, 3.26/.893 (6, 318:54, 3.76/.882 HE)

Boston College:
John Muse (7-5-2) — 14 GP, 844:36 minutes, 2.70 GAA/.899 sv% (11 GP, 665:52 minutes, 2.43 GAA/.909 sv% HE)
Parker Milner (5-1-0) — 6, 358:30, 2.34/.895 (4, 239:27, 2.00/.905 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (23 games) — 73 goals for (3.17/gm), 55 goals against (2.39/gm). Power play 23/110 (20.9%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 89/108 (82.4%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (14 games) — 45 goals for (3.21/gm), 41 goal against (2.93/gm). Power play 14/69 (20.3%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 55/70 (78.6%, 0 SHGF)

Merrimack:
Overall (19 games) — 63 goals for (3.32/gm), 69 goals against (3.63/gm). Power play 23/92 (20.8%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 95/115 (82.6%, 0 SHGF)
HE (12 games) — 41 goals for (3.42/gm), 46 goals against (3.83/gm). Power play 16/58 (27.6%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 60/73 (82.2%, 0 SHGF)

Boston College:
Overall (20 games) — 72 goals for (3.60/gm), 53 goals against (2.65/gm). Power play 22/109 (20.2%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 90/103 (87.4%, 2 SHGF)
HE (15 games) — 55 goals for (3.67/gm), 35 goals against (2.33/gm). Power play 16/83 (19.3%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 63/73 (86.3%, 1 SHGF)

Outlook
Last year we compared a weekend against BC and Amherst to the Strait of Messina from Homer’s “Odyssey.” For those unfamiliar with the Homeric tradition, the Strait of Messina was a narrow seaway through which Odysseus and his crew had to pass on their way back to Greece from the shores of a fallen Troy. But the Strait had claimed many lives thanks to its twin terrors of Scylla, a six-headed beast not unlike a hydra (not that Ovid agrees with that physical description, but we’ll digress) that lived rooted on Messina’s perilous cliffs, and Charybdis, a sea monster with a gaping mouth that created a whirlpool that had sucked many a sailor to his briny death.

So Odysseus was faced with a choice: Risk the lives of some members of his crew by passing too close to the cliffs, or risk his entire ship by sailing farther out. Of course, Odysseus, being a man of modern thinking and wisely heeding the advice of Circe, was not foolhardy enough to risk his homeward voyage and the lives of all his men and realized, in his way, that discretion is the better part of valor. So he allowed several of his men to be gobbled up by the hydra and escaped the situation only short six men, one for each of Scylla’s ravenous heads.

And as with last season, Lowell is in a similar situation. It seems unlikely that Lowell would win both of these games this weekend, and while certainly the more winnable contest is the one against a Merrimack side with nothing in the way of defense or goaltending and therefore not a single road win to show for it (though we’ve heard that song and dance before from Princeton), this just doesn’t, for all the world, feel like a weekend in which Lowell could possibly do better than two points.

The problem is this: even if Lowell appears to get back its offensive giddy-up, it will have done so against the worst defensive team in the conference and therefore it will be a bit of a hollow accomplishment. Further, BC is excellent at defense as evidenced by its 2.33 GAA in league play, and that is of course bad news for a team that can’t score at all lately. Worse, even if Lowell does have its attacking wherewithal about it this weekend, and scores, say, four goals per game on average, BC still shoots the lights out of every building in which it plays. Apart from the defensive debacle at Northeastern, Lowell hasn’t scored more than two goals against a Hockey East opponent since early December and we think you’ll agree that those are both easily seen as statistical outliers.

Simply put, we believe two things: first, that Lowell should beat Merrimack with some degree of ease (though less so than earlier this year), and second, that Lowell’s chances of beating BC at any style of game the Eagles opt to play are next to nil, just given this recent spate of frustrating play. So Lowell is very much between the devil and the deep blue sea, as it were. If, for some reason, it concedes to Merrimack its first road victory of the season, then this is going to be a dismal and ugly weekend and all hope of home ice will likely have been scuttled.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Riverhawk permalink
    January 22, 2010 4:46 am

    Was not able to attend the last game. What has been done to the arena??

  2. Bob permalink
    January 22, 2010 4:23 pm

    They need to take care of business on Friday night and get ready for BC. I’ll agree BC is going to be tough. Although,I believe they maybe a bit thin on defense, Cross and Wey are both out with injuries.

    I think this could be a very good weekend for the Hawks if they play hard and avoid the parade to the penalty box.

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