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Weekend preview: Pre-Beanpot beatdown

January 28, 2010

The No. 16 Lowell River Hawks (14-7-2, 8-6-2 HE) vs. the Northeastern Huskies (10-11-1, 6-10-1 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Matthews Arena, Boston, Mass.

Lowell is fourth in Hockey East with 18 points from 16 games and Northeastern is eighth in Hockey East with 13 points from 17 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-1 vs. Boston College, 5-4 vs. Merrimack, 1-2 vs. UMass Amherst
Northeastern — 3-1 vs. Providence, 2-9 at Vermont, 3-1 at Vermont

Prior meetings
Lowell leads Northeastern 53-35-7 all-time.

Season series
Lowell beat Northeastern 3-1 on Oct. 24 in a Hockey East league game behind goals from Riley Wetmore, David Vallorani and Paul Worthington. Carter Hutton made 24 saves in the win. It lost in the final of the Dartmouth Christmas tournament 2-1 thanks to a lack of discipline and a lack of offense, but made up for it six days later with a frustrating, thrilling 6-5 overtime win.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 25 GP, 14-10-24 (16 GP, 8-6-14 HE)
Scott Campbell — 25, 8-13-21 (16, 4-8-12)
David Vallorani — 25, 8-13-21 (16, 5-9-14)
Nick Schaus — 23, 4-17-21 (16, 3-12-15)
Paul Worthington — 25, 11-8-19 (16, 9-5-14)

Northeastern:
Kyle Kraemer — 22 GP, 9-8-17 (17 GP, 8-5-13 HE)
Wade MacLeod — 21, 8-9-17 (16, 7-5-12)
Tyler McNeely — 21, 7-8-15 (16, 5-8-13)
Jake Newton — 22, 6-9-15 (17, 3-7-10)
Garrett Vermeersch — 21, 5-9-13 (16, 2-7-9)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (8-6-0) — 14 GP, 841:19 minutes, 2.07 GAA/.926 sv% (8 GP, 484:28 minutes, 2.72 GAA/.909 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (6-3-2) — 10, 666:09, 2.70/.911 (8, 487:17, 2.83/.910 HE)

Northeastern:
Chris Rawlings (9-9-1) — 19 GP, 1,110:04 minutes, 2.97 GAA/.905 sv% (14 GP, 811:01 minutes, 3.33 GAA/.891 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (25 games) — 81 goals for (3.24/gm), 60 goals against (2.40/gm). Power play 25/120 (20.8%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 93/113 (81.6%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (16 games) — 53 goals for (3.31/gm), 46 goal against (2.88/gm). Power play 16/79 (20.3%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 59/76 (77.6%, 0 SHGF)

Northeastern:
Overall (22 games) — 57 goals for (2.59/gm), 67 goals against (3.05/gm). Power play 23/135 (17.0%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 76/102 (74.5%, 3 SHGF)
HE (17 games) — 39 goals for (2.29/gm), 57 goals against (3.35/gm). Power play 14/97 (14.4%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 61/83 (73.5%, 2 SHGF)

Outlook
There is no reason Lowell shouldn’t win this game because there’s nothing in Northeastern that says it’s anything better than a crap team. Look at the numbers, all the facts are there. Scoring 39 goals in 17 Hockey East games is almost shameful, and allowing 57 is even worse. The power play is a shambles and the penalty kill it total garbage.

Of course, history has shown that Lowell can’t count any game as a gimme against Northeastern this season, except maybe that first one. Yeah, Lowell is 2-1 against the Huskies this year, and the latest win came by the narrowest of margins. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, the fact that Lowell nearly conceded that game was the very definition of a fluke.

For one thing, Northeastern scored five goals in that game, almost double its season average and more than double what Lowell typically gives up. And Lowell, still one the least-penalized teams in Hockey East despite taking 100 penalties minutes in a five-game span, gave Northeastern eight power plays in that game, five of which came in the third period.

If the Huskies are willing to bank on getting that kind of break again tomorrow night, then we happily invite them to play as they did in the first two periods of that game, in which they allowed four even-strength goals and scored just one, and see how everything shakes out. Hint: not well.

The problem for the Huskies is two-fold. One, injuries. They’ve apparently had more than a few season-ending bumps and bruises and breaks and while that’s too bad, that’s also hockey. Two, and more importantly, they never had a game-changing player to begin with. Wade MacLeod would be, we suppose, the closest thing to a player like that, but his total of 37 points as a sophomore now seems well out of reach as he only has 17 through 21 games, and there’s no way Northeastern gets more than two (or, through divine intervention, three) extra games in postseason play to help him pad the stats. And let’s be honest, most of his offense last year ran through Joe Vitale who was, in many ways, the kind of player that Northeastern lacks.

Similarly, Chris Rawlings, for right now at least, is merely an average or even subaverage goaltender, and the Huskies needed a superb once-in-a-generation one last year to pull down their first 20-win season in what had to be over a decade. A 2.97 overall goals-against average will pretty much win you nothing.

We suppose the closest thing they have to a game-breaking player is Jake Newton, a good offensive defenseman, especially for a freshman. But even with all his points, he’s still a minus-1 overall and a minus-3 in Hockey East, so what’s the big to-do?

Northeastern doesn’t have a Kory Falite or Paul Worthington or Scott Campbell or David Vallorani up front, or a Jeremy Dehner or Nick Schaus or Maury Edwards at the blue line, or a Carter Hutton or Nevin Hamilton in the crease. The Huskies are only holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot, and that tenuously, because they’ve played three more league games than Merrimack.

Lowell, given how it played against BC, and given that this is its only game this weekend, should be focused and is more than capable of winning with ease. Hang a four-spot on ’em, let’s say. That’d be nice.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 28, 2010 7:30 pm

    Getting a nice win-streak together right now would be wonderful for fans. Having over 5k in the stands last weekend against BC and getting a good result will hopefully bring back a lot of people for the “White-Out” game against BU next Friday.

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