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Weekend preview: Sarah Palin style

October 13, 2011

The Lowell River Hawks (0-0-0, 0-0-0 HE) vs. the Minnesota State Mavericks (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA)

8:35 p.m. Friday at Verizon Wireless Center, Mankato, Minnesota.
8:05 p.m. Saturday at Verizon Wireless Center, Mankato, Minnesota.

Lowell has yet to start its season. MSU is 1-1-0.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-3 vs. UNB (exh.)
MSU — 1-4 at RPI, 1-0 at RPI, 3-1 vs. UBC (exhibition)

Prior meetings
Lowell trails MSU 2-3-0, all-time.

Season series
Nothing to report.

Top scorers
Lowell (2010-11):
David Vallorani — 34 GP, 12-19-31 (27 GP, 8-15-23 HE)
Riley Wetmore — 34, 14-16-30 (27, 10-12-22)
Matt Ferreira — 33, 10-7-17 (26, 6-5-11)
Maury Edwards — 34, 5-11-16 (27, 4-9-13)
Chad Ruhwedel — 32, 2-13-15 (27, 1-9-10)

MSU:
Johnny McInnis — 1 GP, 1-0-1
Cameron Cooper — 2, 1-0-1
Brett Stern — 1, 0-1-1
Evan Mosey — 2, 0-1-1
Eriah Hayes — 2, 0-1-1

Goaltending

Lowell (2010-11):
Doug Carr (4-13-3) — 22 GP, 1,157:13, 3.63 GAA/.896 sv% (17 GP, 907:28, 3.44 GAA/.898 sv% HE)
Marc Boulanger (0-11-1) — 15, 772:02, 3.80/.879 (12, 656:20, 3.75/.897)

MSU:
Austin Lee (1-0-0) — 1 GP, 60:00, 0.00 GAA/1.000 sv%
Phil Cook (0-1-0) — 1, 60:00, 4.00/.895

Team stats

Lowell (2010-11):
Overall (34 games) — 83 goals for (2.44/gm), 136 goals against (4.00/gm). Power play 30/162 (18.5%, 9 SHGA), penalty kill 98/129 (76.0%, 5 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 60 goals for (2.22/gm), 102 goals against (3.78/gm). Power play 21/124 (16.9%, 8 SHGA), penalty kill 80/101 (79.2%, 3 SHGF)

MSU:
Overall (2 games) — 2 goals for (1.00/gm), 4 goals against (2.00/gm). Power play 0/11 (0.oo%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 14/16 (87.5%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
We look at a weekend like this and see opportunity. Sure, Mankato came to Lowell last year and tuned up the River Hawks pretty safely, winning both games by a combined score of 11-5. Troublingly, those games were played under similar circumstances.

Looking back at last year, the Mavericks came into the dates allowing more goals per game than Lowell, a feat that seems almost impossible in retrospect. But if you were looking for a point last season when the team was really and truly done for, that was it. Conceding 11 and scoring just five to a team that was eighth in the WCHA was what brought Lowell from underperforming freshman-laden charity case to full-on Chernobyl-level disaster. At that point they were 2-8-2 and at the top of a deep, dark ravine filled with jagged rocks upon which the season, a coach and perhaps all hope for the next few years was dashed.

But that’s a “perhaps,” you see. Some hope remains. We are obviously not foolish enough to predict anything resembling a Lowell sweep or even a split, even if this team scored just one goal a game in its first two games this season. Not yet any way. We’ve seen so little of this group, and in a completely unmeaningful game (where they predictably collapsed), that we’ll be happy with a measly draw. One point. That’s all we’re hoping for. Really.

That having been said, we believe more is possible. It’s true. Both of RPI’s goaltenders were pretty good last year — if they’d played for Lowell, this team might have even won six games! — but they weren’t hold-a-team-like-Mankato-to-two-goals-in-a-weekend good. So let’s say Lowell allows four, five or even six goals this weekend. The ‘Hawks can still score that much against a team like MSU (theoretically). Hey, they beat Merrimack, last year right? And without Maury Edwards they probably won’t generate turnovers like a pastry factory.

We’re not saying it’s probable. We’re saying it’s possible.

You gotta start somewhere, right?

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