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Saturday thoughts: Making history

November 21, 2010

You’ve probably heard by now that this weekend sweep of Lowell by Merrimack was the first in the history of time. And if you hadn’t, then there ya go: free info from us to you.

But what you probably didn’t know is that Lowell set a number of other all-time records tonight as well, en route to an incredibly frustrating 3-2 loss that was so bad we actually laughed our way through most of it.

For example, this game set the record for Most Lowell Fans Simultaneously Contemplating Suicide after Merrimack scored its second shorthanded goal of the first period — on a 5-on-3, mind you — to make it 3-0 to the hosts and put all hopes of a Lowell comeback to rest just 17:05 into the game.

A world record sparked that collective thought, too, as David Vallorani continued his campaign of performances that have just been befuddlingly poor with what has to be the Laziest Giveaway at a Player’s Attacking Blue Line During a Power Play (and again, this is on a 5-on-3) in the history of organized hockey. As the puck came to him high up in his zone on the halfboards, with a defender somewhat near him and an outlet man further down the blue line toward center ice, he either tried to kick a weak attempted clear to Maury Edwards, or fanned on shoveling it over to him. The puck ended up on Chris Barton’s stick, and that kid roared down the ice to Doug Carr and tucked it past him neatly.

It was an absolutely abominable play from a kid who’s been a top scorer for this team in each of his first two years but has contracted Maury Edwards Disease and turned into absolute garbage as a junior. He’s getting outmuscled on every puck, he’s no longer threading passes beautifully to teammates’ sticks (instead, he’s just kind of hucking them into their general direction and hoping it all works out (it hasn’t)), and his decisions both with and without the puck have been just shocking.

Amazingly, Vallorani’s wasn’t the worst play of the night, as Chad Ruhwedel made the Worst Call for a Change of all time to gift Merrimack its first shortie, which made it 2-0. Trailing the puck carrier on a power play breakout, Ruhwedel tapped his stick on the ice to signal to another defenseman that he wanted a change. Of course, the puckcarrier (Mike Scheu), wasn’t looking and dropped the puck for a player that was no longer there. Elliot Sheen had no problem breaking in alone and beating Carr.

And, wouldn’t you know it, there was even a record on Merrimack’s first goal, as Edwards set the record for Defenseman Farthest at Sea despite the play having been in his own zone for at least 30 seconds. When it was finally shoveled past a falling Carr, Edwards was out above the right faceoff dot for a reason which was never especially apparent.

But that’s not to say all the records Lowell set last night were negative. After all, the ‘Hawks came rampaging back to within a goal after everyone in the building figured the game was going to end about 8-1. Joe Caveney scored what must have been Lowell’s first redirected goal for in what feels like a century, as River Hawk forwards have taken up the odd habit of avoiding the front of the net like standing within three feet of the crease for more than a second or two was going to give them tuberculosis. But a goal’s a goal, and a halfhearted comeback attempt was underway, so why not keep it rolling?

Lowell’s second goal also set an all-time record, for Power Play Goal We Least Expected to Actually Happen. We’d all but given up on this team tonight since it mustered an incredibly poor six shots in the first and then four in the second prior to Vallorani pumping home a five-hole goal on the power play. Somehow, Lowell actually scored three goals against the best penalty kill in the country (and allowed that many on those same power plays, but we’re trying to stay positive in this paragraph). And this one pulled Lowell within one goal, in a game we figured it would have drowned in a short while prior, all inside a minute to go in the period. Surely, this would be the big impetus for a blistering third-period effort.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the case, giving all fans present the distinct pleasure of watching Lowell turn in two more world record performances. The first was Worst Third Period Effort While Playing Down a Goal Despite Having Scored Two Unanswered. As we said, you might assume that those two Lowell goals in the second would’ve awakened something. That maybe Blaise MacDonald could’ve cobbled together a speech that would really give the team something to rally around so everything would work out, Lowell would tie the game, and maybe even win it. But we don’t know why we expected anything like that. In retrospect, it was laughably optimistic.

Instead, the River Hawks were outshot in the third 11-1. That’s right. One shot. One. O-N-E. The smallest possible number of shots they could have gotten without getting any at all. But you want to know the funny part? The Merrimack scoreboard showed that Lowell had 12 shots through the second period, and so when it still said that as Lowell took its timeout with about two minutes to go, we sure were yukkin it up. No shots in the third period of a one-goal game against Merrimack! That would have been the worst single-period performance in Lowell hockey history. But no, as it turned out, there had been one, which the box score credits to Matt Ferreira. If you put a gun to our heads, we couldn’t tell you when that shot happened. The box score says it was early, but we have no clue when because it was so insignificant as to be completely forgettable. That Lowell put one shot on net in the period is, somehow, almost worse than if they had just gone without a single shot.

But their failure to make the game even interesting in the last 20 was the final record of the night: Least Surprising Thing That Ever Happened. This team is just brutal to watch.

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