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Saturday thoughts: Land of a thousand laughs

October 16, 2011

Before you go writing off Lowell’s impressive sweep of Minnesota State as being one kinda bad team beating a pretty bad team twice in a row, it’s important to keep in mind that no one goes into Mankato and sweeps the hosts.

Case in point: the last two teams to do it are now Lowell and North Dakota. And the latter hadn’t happened since 2006. So make no mistake about it whatsoever: this was a strong and impressive 4-1 win by a team no one (ourselves included) expected much out of.

The writeup in the Mankato Free Press — which we’ll get back to later this week, believe us — for Friday’s game said that Lowell outcompeted the Mavericks in every part of the game, which wasn’t entirely true. As successful as the River Hawks were at drawing penalties, they didn’t look especially dangerous on the power play.

That changed considerably on Saturday.

Once again, Lowell poured a huge number of shots on net, allowed relatively few, scored four goals, received solid goaltending, played a lights-out penalty kill, drove possession, drew penalties, and so on and so on and so on. But they also added a lethal power play to their repertoire that should have their next opponents, the lowly Huskies of UConn, just about ready to curl up into the fetal position and die.

Lowell went 3 for 8 on its power play opportunities on Saturday, with all three goals coming on their first four man-up opportunities. However, that’s not necessarily fair to the Mavericks, since two of them came on the same five-minute major, which was the result of a gross hit from behind by Mike Louwerse. And wouldn’t you know it: on the first two, it was Riley Wetmore driving the action. He picked up the primary assists on both goals, which came just 1:50 apart and were scored by Derek Arnold and Matt Ferreira (again!). That alone pretty much put the game on ice before the end of the first period.

And you would have thought that the Mavericks would have approached the rest of the game with pride — two goals isn’t a completely insurmountable lead against anybody, even if they are Lowell-quality — but you’d be wrong. Instead, they played just as haplessly in the second period as they had in the first and indeed the previous night. Except now they added an element of frustration due to their inability to get anything at all going and really made themselves look bad. They racked up four more penalties over the course of the game, and filled many of the post-whistle intervals with infantile scrums, the ultimate sign of a team in over its head and unable to come up with answers. Joe Pendenza added an insurance goal on one of the ensuing power plays late in the second period.

Because the Mavericks spent so much of the game playing cowardly and despicable hockey, we were upset to see their best player on both nights, Justin Jokinen — who we will ALSO get to on Wednesday — score a goal that once again pulled MSU within a pair late in the third period. Thankfully, Arnold answered just under six minutes later to solidify the final score.

As with Friday’s contest, Lowell’s goaltender (in this case Doug Carr) had very little to do, stopping 24 of 25 and regularly going long stretches without seeing a shot at all. All those Lowell power plays certainly didn’t help. It was obviously an admirable performance, but one in which he was asked to do just about as little as possible in a game against a Division 1 team. If you want to call the Mavericks that. And we don’t.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. hhh permalink
    October 16, 2011 6:48 pm

    how large is the student section at tsongas

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