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Weekend preview: History lesson

February 4, 2010

The No. 18 Lowell River Hawks (14-10-2, 8-7-2 HE) vs. the Boston University Terriers (10-11-3, 7-9-2 HE) and the the Merrimack Warriors (9-14-0, 6-10-0 HE)

vs. BU 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.
vs. Merrimack 7 p.m. Saturday at Volpe Center, North Andover, Mass.

Lowell is fifth in Hockey East with 18 points from 17 games, BU is sixth in Hockey East with 16 points from 18 games and Merrimack is ninth in Hockey East with 12 points from 16 games.

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

Prior meetings
Lowell leads Merrimack 66-31-8 and trails BU 18-63-8, all-time.

Season series
Lowell cruised past Merrimack 6-3 in Lowell on Nov. 21 and barely survived 5-4 on Jan. 22. Lowell and BU split the season series to this point with each winning in the other’s home rink. BU won 5-4 in overtime at the Tsongas Arena on Oct. 30 thanks to some dubious calls from Eternal Archnemesis Tim Benedetto, but Lowell got the better of BU the next night in an equitably officiated game at Agganis Arena, 3-2.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 26 GP, 14-11-25 (17 GP, 8-7-15 HE)
Scott Campbell — 26, 8-13-21 (17, 4-8-12)
David Vallorani — 26, 8-13-21 (17, 5-9-14)
Nick Schaus — 24, 4-17-21 (17, 3-12-15)
Paul Worthington — 26, 11-8-19 (17, 9-5-14)

Boston University:
Nick Bonino — 19 GP, 6-16-22 (13 GP, 3-12-15 HE)
Kevin Shattenkirk — 24, 3-16-19 (18, 2-12-14)
Colby Cohen — 23, 10-8-18 (18, 8-7-15)
Chris Connolly — 22, 7-11-18 (16, 5-7-12)
Vinny Saponari — 24, 6-12-18 (18, 6-9-15)

Merrimack:
Stephane Da Costa — 21 GP, 11-18-29 (16 GP, 5-16-21 HE)
Chris Barton — 23, 15-11-26 (16, 9-9-18)
Joe Cucci — 23, 3-14-17 (16, 3-9-12)
Karl Stollery — 21, 4-10-14 (14, 3-7-10)
Pat Bowen — 23, 1-13-14 (16, 0-8-8)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (8-7-0) — 15 GP, 899:28 minutes, 2.07 GAA/.928 sv% (9 GP, 542:37 minutes, 2.65 GAA/.913 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (6-3-2) — 11, 666:09, 2.70/.911 (8, 487:17, 2.83/.910 HE)

Boston University:
Kieran Millan (8-10-0) — 18 GP, 1,057:05 minutes, 3.18 GAA/.885 sv% (13 GP, 759:10 minutes, 3.24 GAA/.886 sv% HE)
Grant Rollheiser (2-1-3) — 6, 372:42, 3.38/.880 (5, 308:49, 3.50/.886 HE)

Merrimack:
Joe Cannata (3-9-0) — 12 GP, 692:28 minutes, 3.81 GAA/.876 sv% (8 GP, 454:16 minutes, 3.70 GAA/.872 sv% HE)
Andrew Braithwaite (6-5-0) — 12, 683:19, 2.99/.907 (9, 504:45, 3.21/.904 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (26 games) — 82 goals for (3.15/gm), 62 goals against (2.38/gm). Power play 26/124 (21.0%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 96/117 (82.1%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (17 games) — 54 goals for (3.18/gm), 48 goal against (2.82/gm). Power play 14/69 (20.3%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 62/79 (78.5%, 0 SHGF)

Boston University:
Overall (24 games) — 75 goals for (3.12/gm), 79 goals against (3.29/gm). Power play 31/147 (21.1%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 112/139 (80.6%, 6 SHGF)
HE (18 games) — 58 goals for (3.22/gm), 60 goals against (3.33/gm). Power play 16/83 (19.3%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 84/107 (78.5%, 3 SHGF)

Merrimack:
Overall (23 games) — 75 goals for (3.26/gm), 81 goals against (3.52/gm). Power play 28/107 (26.2%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 107/130 (82.3%, 0 SHGF)
HE (16 games) — 54 goals for (3.41/gm), 58 goals against (3.62/gm). Power play 21/73 (28.8%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 72/88 (81.8%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
Tough to call what happens this weekend. On the one hand, Lowell is once again better on paper than both of these teams, but the mitigating factors with which Lowell will have to deal this weekend are several.

For one thing, the last time Lowell beat BU in Lowell was Dec. 7, 2007, a streak of three games. Three games might not sound like a lot and it really isn’t. But the goal total for BU in those three games: 17. For whatever reason, the Terriers score at will at Tsongas Center and Lowell can’t stop it. The problem, we think, lies in BU’s ability to capitalize on the power play. Lowell hasn’t given the Terriers many opportunities to score on it, just 13 in those three games which isn’t a ton or anything, but they score on 30.8 percent of them, and that’s a real problem. If the key is staying out of the penalty box (which should be easier since Benedetto isn’t calling this game), then we don’t know what to expect simply because Lowell has a penchant for getting itself into trouble with lazy infractions.

For another, BU is heating up a little bit here. After starting the season 5-9-3 before Christmas, BU has won four of its last five and six of its last eight. The team is defending better and perhaps more important to this argument, scoring goals by the barrelful. They’ve netted 32 goals since the break and that’s with a pair of losses in which they scored one goal and a 2-1 win over Northeastern on Monday.

One final BU-related issue: it’s between Beanpot games. Now you might think the Terriers would traditionally look ahead to their near-annual title game showdown with BC and much less frequently Northeastern, but they beat Lowell in their game on the same weekend last year (5-3) and the year before (6-2), and in fact haven’t lost their Betweenpot game since February of 2004.

The one problem with the Merrimack game is, of course, that it’s being played at the Volpe. Merrimack’s home record this year: 9-1. Merrimack’s goal differential at home this year: plus-19. The only team to which they lost in North Andover: UNH. The score of that game: 5-4. Result of the rematch at Merrimack: 3-2 win. That’s pretty terrifying.

But! Last time the Warriors beat Lowell at home: Nov. 12, 2000. Nine-plus years without a win in their own rink. Overall home record against the ‘Hawks in that time:  0-10-3. Merrimack’s goal differential in those 13 games: minus-22. Last time Merrimack scored more than two goals against Lowell in that time: Jan. 16, 2004 (Lowell won 4-3 in overtime on a Danny O’Brien goal Ben Walter hurt his knee but still scored twice).

Of course the overarching reason we worry about this weekend: No Jeremy Dehner. That basically means you can throw everything else out the window because it basically makes Lowell an unknown.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ChiefWahoo permalink
    February 4, 2010 8:02 pm

    Another X factor in the MC game is the fact that UML will most likely be facing Braithwaite in net this time around and not Cannata.

  2. stevo permalink
    February 5, 2010 2:19 pm

    well based on your thoughts I see a sweep

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