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Friday thoughts: Get out of here, ghost

February 13, 2010

There are three things that separated a win from a loss last night.

The first was most obvious from the outset, and that was that Lowell actually played as though it had some sort of stake in the outcome of this game for the first time since the last game against BC and maybe the second time since the Christmas break ended.

Simply, Lowell battered the Eagles from the outset. On the first shift, Lowell got the puck behind BC’s net and when poor Philip Sammuelsson went to get it, Ben Holmstrom positively buried him. That set strong physical tone that would be typified by the captain all night, as he personally vexed a number of Eagles a great deal.

And while he may not have drawn as many penalty calls as he should have (the pre-faceoff crosscheck to the face and slash on the shin because a pair of Eagles didn’t like the way he was lining up for a draw being the most obviously deserving of minors) he was certainly setting up a basecamp under the Eagles’ skin as he is occasionally wont to do.

But the rest of the River Hawks followed Holmstrom’s sterling example and engaged BC in a physical game to which they were unaccustomed and for which they were unready. The havoc and confusion created resulted in two early goals for Lowell, though ultimately only one counted.

Paul Worthington drove to the net hard and got his shot off, but had crashed into John Muse and was given a penalty for his efforts despite Holmstrom putting the puck in the net from the top of the crease. There was really no disputing the no-goal call as yes, Worthington certainly committed a penalty (though the call of charging was a curious one) so that, unlike the early no-goal call against Amherst, was fair enough.

At this point our eyes were rolling like slot machines because, y’know, “Here we go again.” Can’t fault us for thinking that after the last three games. But then something strange happened. Lowell killed a penalty, and almost immediately drew one of its own, and Scott Campbell turned the corner below the right faceoff dot, rushed at John Muse and rolled a lazy shot up his pads into the net to give Lowell the lead 181 seconds into the game.

The tone set early ended up staying late as well, and Boston College, clearly flustered by the style, took 10 penalties and afforded Lowell eight power plays (and by its nature, Lowell’s style resulted in seven power plays for the Eagles).

The second reason Lowell won was that, while its supposedly-primary scoring, absent since the last BC game, was still nowhere to be found, it got big contributions from guys who aren’t exactly awash in points this season. Case in point: Patrick Cey scored the game-winner, and it was just his second goal of the year. Similarly, the two empty-net goals were scored by Riley Wetmore (his first league goal since November and first point since the Princeton series) and Mike Budd (his first league goal since Oct. 30).

But the best player on the ice last night was Chris Auger, who picked up two assists, dropped a couple of good-sized hits and most importantly was a force on the penalty kill. There was one point in the second period, during a kill from a Maury Edwards cross checking penalty, where he singlehandedly pinned the puck behind BC’s net for a good 20 or 30 seconds all by himself, fighting off at least three different Eagles at various points in the shift to keep the puck on the endboards as though it were stapled there. He was our No. 1 star in a runaway.

And of course our No. 2 star was also the third reason Lowell won. Carter Hutton finally got enough run support to actually win a game in which he stands on his head and bails out the team a number of times, making 34 saves and generally being very impressive but never overly flashy or called upon to make some of the absurd saves he’s had to make in the last few weeks. And really, even though he allowed a goal, he stopped every one of the 34 shots he actually got eyes on. Ben Smith’s power play goal wasn’t just a normal tip-in, it was also through a screen. When you don’t see Carter Hutton even react to a puck until it’s behind him, then it was basically an unstoppable shot to begin with, and he can hardly be considered at fault. Hutton is now fifth nationally in goals-against average and third in save percentage and in a 10-way tie for fifth in shutouts, and it’s getting to the point where incredible performances like this are nearly commonplace. That’s a nice situation.

Really, this was a complete team effort out of Lowell from the opening whistle to the final buzzer, and results like this are to be expected when Lowell actually plays to its capabilities. Obviously you can see why we’ve been so down on everybody lately, but if they can play every game like this for the remainder of the season, then who can stop them?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Keith permalink
    February 13, 2010 11:31 pm

    agreed. finally +/-54 minutes played as a team; haven’t seen that for a long time.

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