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Weekend preview: Defeat history

March 11, 2010

The No. 20 Lowell River Hawks (18-14-4, 12-11-4 HE) vs. the Maine Black Bears (16-15-3, 13-12-2 HE)

7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) at Alfond Arena, Orono, Maine.

Lowell and Maine both tied with BU for third in Hockey East with 28 points from 27 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 1-1 (ot) vs. Vermont, 5-2 vs. Vermont, 2-2 (ot) at Providence
Maine — 3-4 vs. UMass Amherst, 2-5 vs. UMass Amherst, 5-1 at Merrimack

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Maine 28-69-3, all-time.

Season series
Lowell lost 3-1 and 8-4 with a pair of dismal efforts in Lowell on Nov. 27 and in Orono on Feb. 19, respectively. Lowell rebounded and won the third game of the series 4-2, also in Orono, on Feb. 20.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Kory Falite — 36 GP, 18-15-33 (27 GP, 12-11-23 HE)
Scott Campbell — 36, 15-17-32 (27, 11-12-23)
David Vallorani — 36, 9-17-26 (27, 6-13-19)
Chris Auger — 33, 9-14-23 (27, 9-13-22)
Nick Schaus — 34, 4-19-23 (27, 3-14-17)

Maine:
Gustav Nyquist — 34 GP, 18-38-56 (27 GP, 12-29-41 HE)
Brian Flynn — 34, 18-23-41 (27, 15-19-34)
Tanner House — 30, 14-19-33 (27, 6-16-26)
Jeff Dimmen — 34, 12-17-29 (27, 12-13-25)
Will O’Neill — 34, 6-22-28 (27, 5-18-23)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Carter Hutton (12-10-2) — 24 GP, 1,429:44 minutes, 2.06 GAA/.928 sv% (18 GP, 1,072:53 minutes, 2.35 GAA/.920 sv% HE)
Nevin Hamilton (6-4-2) — 13, 742:46, 2.91/.905 (10, 563:54, 3.09/.902 HE)

Maine:
Shawn Sirman (1-6-0) — 8 GP, 277:30 minutes, 5.19 GAA/.832 sv% (same HE)
Dave Wilson (0-3-0) — 8, 253:42, 2.84/.871 (5, 116:27, 1.55/.923 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (36 games) — 110 goals for (3.06/gm), 86 goals against (2.39/gm). Power play 33/167 (19.8%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 128/155 (82.6%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 82 goals for (3.04/gm), 72 goal against (2.67/gm). Power play 24/126 (19.0%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 94/117 (80.3%, 0 SHGF)

Maine:
Overall (34 games) — 126 goals for (3.71/gm), 117 goals against (3.34/gm). Power play 56/190 (29.5%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 135/169 (79.9%, 5 SHGF)
HE (27 games) — 95 goals for (3.52/gm), 90 goals against (3.33/gm). Power play 40/144 (27.8%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 112/137 (81.8%, 4 SHGF)

Lowell’s head-to-head leaders vs. Maine
Kory Falite — 12 GP, 8-6-14
Ben Holmstrom — 11 GP, 2-7-11
Scott Campbell — 9, 3-4-7
Jeremy Dehner — 13, 1-6-7
Jonathan Maniff — 8, 4-2-6

Carter Hutton (5-5-0) — 10 GP, 583:23 minutes, 2.57 GAA/.900, 2 SHO
Nevin Hamilton (1-1-0) — 3, 135:36, 3.98/.882, 0

Lowell’s playoff leaders:
Scott Campbell — 7 GP, 4-4-8
Paul Worthington — 7, 2-6-8
Maury Edwards — 7, 2-3-5
Jeremy Dehner — 7, 0-5-5
Ben Holmstrom — 7, 1-3-4

Carter Hutton (3-2-0) — 5 GP, 318:56 minutes, 2.63 GAA/.911 sv%, 0 SHO
Nevin Hamilton (1-1-0) — 2, 181:19, 1.51/.946, 0

Outlook
Last year, this Lowell team put a bit of a scare into everyone.

It ran like a buzzsaw through Vermont, beat Northeastern in overtime and drew BU, the eventual national champion, in the Hockey East title game. And this year little about the team has changed. Though it was denied what was its best chance to break into home ice in close to a decade, there wasn’t one team in Hockey East that wanted any part of playing Lowell in the playoffs, and it was Maine that drew the ignominious task of trying to bounce the River Hawks from the playoffs.

Thing is, on paper this is a bad draw for Lowell, and you know all the stats.

Something like five wins ever in Orono. No playoff wins against Maine. Coming up on the short end of the season series, surrendering 13 goals in three games and scoring nine. Not good. By any stretch of the imagination.

But this Lowell team has never played Maine in the playoffs, is very difficult to beat in the playoffs, has a record at Alfond that is very convincing compared to the rest of the program’s history, and likewise has the best record against the Black Bears over a four-year period of any Lowell team since the class of 1983-87 (which went 7-6-0 compared to this year’s senior class going 6-7-0).

Also working in Lowell’s favor: last year it went into the toughest road venue in Hockey East — Vermont lost six games to Hockey East teams at the Gutterson last year, and Lowell accounted for three of them — and easily bested a team that, its fans will have you know, went to the Frozen Four last year. Three times this happened!

Now the River Hawks once again go to a tough building, which for them in particular was a house of horrors until last season, to meet a Maine team that has won just two games from its last eight and been outscored 36 to 29. Now you might be saying that’s not so bad, but keep in mind that eight of those 29 goals were scored in one game (sadly against Lowell) and this was against defenses ranked Nos. 1 (Lowell, despite giving up eight in that one game), 6 (Amherst), 7 (Merrimack) and 9 (BU) in Hockey East play.

And to worsen Maine’s offensive output dropping over the last eight games, Lowell’s has only gotten better, allowing, even with that eight-goal freakshow, just 18 goals in its last eight games (2.25 goals against per), and went 4-2-2. If you want to take out that abysmal effort in Orono, Lowell has allowed 10 goals over seven of its last eight games, or 1.43 per game, and that’s with an extra 10 minutes of overtime packed on. But, you might say, we can’t simply take out that eight-goal debacle, and that’s fair. So let’s look at the games Carter Hutton has actually started over these last eight games and.. oh look it’s the same seven games in which Lowell allowed 10 goals. Go figure!

The two sides seem to be moving in different directions offensively as well. Lowell is well-known for its tendency to have the attack all but evaporate, but it also has 26 goals in its last eight games. Not a hugely significant number, but well above what it had done in the previous four (seven). Meanwhile Maine has scored 15 goals in its last five games (again, against some pretty awful defense) compared to its average of 3.71.

All that, plus Maine will be without No. 1 goalie Scott Darling, as you all know by now. His replacements are the ones that have given up 10 goals on 70 shots over 184:27 since Darling last played. How would you feel knowing your goalies had stats of 3.25/.857 over the last three-ish games of service time? Not good, we’d guess.

Frankly we think the goaltending and the two teams’ recent form suggest nothing but a Lowell victory, and probably in a sweep. Anything less than a trip to the Garden would be an unbearable disappointment.

All Lowell has to do is overcome 26 years of history. No problem.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 2:58 am

    Absolutely must be at the Garden next week.

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