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Sunday thoughts: The worst

March 15, 2010

Here lies the 2009-10 season of the Lowell River Hawks.

They went down without a fight.

This is literally the most embarrassing thing to have ever happened to this program. A team with so much promise went with just 19 wins from 39 games. It’s really quite unbelievable.

But we’ll leave the real big-picture stuff for the Postmortem. For now, let’s just focus on this season-ending game in which the River Hawks blew a pair of leads but never really played well enough to win.

The first period was, in every way, a disaster. That it was scoreless through 20 minutes tells you more about Maine’s inability to finish on its 16 shots, and Carter Hutton’s ability to keep a floundering team in a game in which it has no business being, than it does about any kind of cogent defensive effort the River Hawks cobbled together. It could have easily been 2- or 3-0. The frustrating part is that this was, at the time, (only) potentially the last game of these seniors’ careers, and they came out and laid a complete egg for the first third of the game. Only five shots? Really? And how many of those were troubling Dave Wilson? One, maybe.

Oh and that’s the other thing. Not only was Maine playing its backup goalie for the entirety of the weekend, it was also without the services of both Jeff Dimmen and Mike Banwell, both defensemen. And because they had two defensemen out, they were forced to roll a forward, Matt Mangene, as their sixth D. Normally you’d think this was some sort disadvantage for the Black Bears and a giant advantage for any River Hawk coming down the right wing, but not only did the River Hawks not attack him or try to drive everything through that side of the ice, they made Mangene look like Paul f’n Coffey. The kid was, in the opinion of both the boys from TIIL and Timmy Whitehead, the best defenseman on the ice for either team, and was probably the player of the game.

Mangene’s feed to Will O’Neill on the game-tying goal inside of five minutes to go in the game was beautiful and not the kind you’d expect to see from a third-line freshman center with eight career points playing defense for the first time since juniors.

And look, the second Maine scored the equalizer, we knew the game was over. Lowell had to stand on Maine’s throat for time that was a little longer than we were comfortable with after Scott Campbell finally showed up only 167:42 into the weekend to score the go-ahead goal, and any mistake Lowell made was always going to be paid for in blood. And indeed, Mike Budd and Spencer Abbott went to the box for hitting after the whistle at 15:01, creating a 4-on-4 situation that we were, as it turned out, rightly nervous about.

Maine utilized the extra space well in the 11 seconds before it scored. Puck won back to the point, D-to-D from O’Neill to Mangene, Mangene fakes shot and gets Chris Auger to bite hard and sprawl on the ice, back to O’Neill as the other forward (we forget who now) also dives on the ice to get in front of it and misses, that draws Nick Schaus from his low-box position for an attempted block that he only partially gets, and instead tips it through Carter Hutton’s five-hole. So many things went wrong there.

There was no way Lowell was ever going to win in overtime, not at Alfond. Shots in the extra 5:10 were 4-1 to Maine and that was jut about what we expected.

All in all, it was just a pathetic weekend for Lowell once again. It scored four goals in three games against team playing its awful backup goalie and missing two strong defensive defensemen. One of those goals went in off a defenseman’s skate. The team’s best players totally failed to show up. Apart from Campbell’s one goal, he was a ghost. Apart from Holmstrom’s one goal, it was just a series full of ill-timed, ill-conceived penalties. Kory Falite may as well have stayed home. Jeremy Dehner was on the ice for all but one Maine goal. David Vallorani didn’t do a thing. Maury Edwards turned it over more than a professional pancake-flipper. In fact, we can’t think of a single River Hawk senior not named Carter Hutton that had a good weekend.

Hutton, by the way, officially took over the career save percentage record from Nevin Hamilton last night (.9127 to .9125) and is officially the best statistical goalie in Lowell history both in terms of GAA (2.33) and now save percentage (.9127). He also finished his career 32-41-10, and lost or tied 24 games in which he gave up two goals or fewer, including seven in 2009-10.

And doesn’t that just tell you everything you need to know about this season?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. keith permalink
    March 15, 2010 4:43 pm

    weaksauce, considering the talent pool.

  2. March 15, 2010 7:07 pm


  3. stevo permalink
    March 16, 2010 10:39 pm

    tough loss, congrats to Holmstrom and Schaus signing NHL contracts for next season hope I see them both in the NHL some day.

  4. Mark86 permalink
    March 18, 2010 6:08 pm

    Blaise has proven that he cannot take a team of experienced upperclassmen to the next level. This was very similar to the outcome of the team four years ago. A big disappointment. There are times with this team and with that team, where the team just turned him off. That’s ok, he’ll have his excuse for sucking the next 2 years…”we’re dressing so many freshman/sophomores…”, and then when they become upperclassmen, they can turn him off.

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