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Weekend Preview: Actual home games

October 20, 2010

The Lowell River Hawks (0-1-2, 0-1-0 HE) vs. the Providence College Friars (1-2-0, 1-0-0 HE) and the Northeastern Huskies (0-2-1, 0-2-0 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Massachusetts.
7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Massachusetts.

Lowell is tied for last in Hockey East with no points from one game. Providence is tied for first with two points from one game. Northeastern is tied for last in Hockey East with no points from two games.

Last three games
Lowell — 4-4 (ot) at RIT, 2-2 (ot) at Niagara, 2-8 at Maine
Providence — 1-7 at Minnesota-Duluth, 3-5 at Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2 vs. Northeastern
Northeastern — 2-2 vs. RPI, 0-2 vs. Boston College, 2-3 at Providence

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Providence 36-47-9 and leads Northeastern 53-36-7, all-time.

Season series
Nothing to report.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Scott Campbell — 3 GP, 2-1-3 (1 GP, 1-1-2 HE)
Chad Ruhwedel — 3, 0-3-3 (1, 0-0-0)
Mike Scheu — 3, 2-0-2 (1, 0-0-0)
Patrick Cey — 3, 1-1-2 (1, 0-0-0)
David Vallorani — 3, 1-1-2 (1, 0-0-0)

Providence:
Tim Schaller — 3 GP, 1-2-3 (1 GP, 0-1-1 HE)
Kyle MacKinnon — 3, 2-0-2 (1, 0-0-0)
Derek Army — 3, 1-1-2 (1, 0-1-1)
Ian O’Connor — 3, 0-2-2 (1, 0-1-1)
Ben Farrer — 3, 1-0-1 (1, 1-0-1)

Northeastern:
Rob Dongara — 2 GP, 1-0-1 (1 GP, 0-0-0 HE)
Cody Ferriero — 3, 1-0-1 (2, 1-0-1)
Jamie Oleksiak — 3, 1-0-1 (2, 0-0-0)
Brody Reid — 3, 1-0-1 (2, 1-0-1)
Randy Guzior — 3, 0-1-1 (2, 0-0-0)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Marc Boulanger (0-0-1) — 2 GP, 103:52, 4.62 GAA/.867 sv% (1 GP, 40:00, 6.00 GAA/.846 sv% HE)
Doug Carr (0-1-1) — 2, 85:00, 4.24/.885 (1, 20:00, 12.00/.750)

Providence:
Alex Beaudry (1-2-0) — 3 GP, 143:41, 4.18 GAA/.872 sv% (1 GP, 60:00, 2.00 GAA/.909 sv% HE)
Justin Gates (0-0-0) — 1 GP, 34:43, 5.18/.870 (no stats HE)

RIT:
Chris Rawlings (0-2-1) — 3 GP, 183:59, 1.96 GAA/.936 sv% (2 GP, 119:13, 2.01 GAA/.937 sv% HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (3 games) — 8 goals for (2.67/gm), 14 goals against (4.67/gm). Power play 2/18 (11.1%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 8/13 (61.5%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (1 game) — 2 goals for (2.00/gm), 8 goals against (8.00/gm). Power play 1/6 (16.7%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 3/4 (75.0%, 0 SHGF)

Providence:
Overall (3 games) — 7 goals for (2.33/gm), 14 goals against (4.67/gm). Power play 2/16 (12.5%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 15/19 (78.9%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (1 game) — 3 goals for (3.00/gm), 2 goals against (2.00/gm). Power play 1/6 (16.7%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 5/6 (83.3%, 0 SHGF)

Northeastern:
Overall (3 games) — 4 goals for (1.33/gm), 7 goals against (2.33/gm). Power play 1/20 (5.0%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 13/18 (72.2%, 0 SHGF)
Hockey East (2 games) — 2 goals for (1.00/gm), 5 goals against (2.50/gm). Power play 1/12 (8.3%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 7/10 (70.0%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
Well it’s the first two home games of the year, and they should prove fairly interesting.

The first Hockey East showdown of the weekend features the somehow-undefeated-in-league Providence College Friars, and okay sure, it’s undefeated in one game, that at home against a Northeastern squad that’s mediocre at best. But this was a team some picked to actually beat the River Hawks in the regular season standings, and their trip out to Duluth showed why. This is a team with very little scoring and a terribly, almost alarmingly overrated goalie.

People talk about Alex Beaudry as being one of the premier goaltenders in the league, and, frankly, we’ve never seen it. Typically guys that are the classic good goalies on bad teams will have respectable save percentages and slightly less praiseworthy GAAs. Joe Exter, the former Merrimack goalie, is a perfect example. His senior year, he conceded 95 goals (for a 2.91 GAA) but a .915 save percentage despite facing over 1,000 shots in 33 games. Alex Beaudry all-time? Just 3.16/.904. That’s not even as good as Tyler Sims’ career numbers. And no one would ever dare call Sims anything approaching “one of the best goalies in the league.” No “one of the best goalies in the league” would have a career GAA over 3.00 if he played for a junior B team.

Case in point to illustrate why Beaudry’s not as good as people seem to think: his play so far this season. He’s played every game and has a 4.18 GAA and an .872 GAA. And, if you wanted to go excuse-hunting, you might say he could be a slow starter, but he’s not. Five of his 14 career wins have come in the first three games of any season he’s ever played. And he’s never had a save percentage lower than .905 in any single one prior to this year. So what’s the problem? Well Northeastern has no offense at all (we’ll get to that in a second), and Duluth, while good, shouldn’t be pouring 12 past one of the best goalies in the most balanced top-to-bottom league in the year.

All that said, can Providence pick up a W at Tsongas Center in Lowell’s home opener. Of course. Will it somehow make them legitimate even if Beaudry is, by some miracle, asked to stand on his head? Nope, it won’t.

The same is true of the likelihood of a Northeastern win on Saturday. We’d go so far as to say that a weekend sweep at the hands of the two teams that missed the Hockey East playoffs last season is rather probable. But Lowell can win either one (and we’re definitely not saying it can), the back end of the all-home set is the better candidate.

Northeastern is a team with the opposite problems from Providence; it’s seemingly bereft of offense, though positively teeming with defense. No one Husky has more than one point, they haven’t scored more than two in a game, they’ve already been shut out, and their net special teams is — and get ready for this one — worse than Lowell’s.

Yup, 13 for 18 on the PK, which is far better than the River Hawks’, obviously, but given that the Huskies have only allowed two other goals in 185 minutes, that’s not very good. But far, far worse than that penalty kill is the power play. It’s 1 for 20. And that’s not a typo. We don’t, in the many weekend series for which we’ve written previews over the last few years, ever recall a team, at any point in the season, having a power play running at just 5 percent. It would seem almost impossible.

But then, these are the Lowell River Hawks we’re talking about, and they do tend to invite surprising offensive performances, which is a problem given how good the Northeastern defense has been this year. For not yet having a win this year, it hasn’t been for lack of goaltending. They allowed three goals to Providence, but only conceded two each to Boston College (BOSTON COLLEGE!) and RPI. They have to be happy with that on Huntington Ave.

These aren’t two excellent opponents Lowell will be facing this weekend, but as we’ve seen the last two weeks, it doesn’t take an excellent opponent to keep the ‘Hawks from winning.

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