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Weekend preview: …Old Klingon proverb

December 1, 2011

The Lowell River Hawks (7-4-0, 4-3-0 HE) vs. the New Hampshire Wildcats (6-6-2, 4-4-1 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.
7 p.m. Saturday at Whittemore Center, Durham, N.H.

Lowell is tied for fifth in Hockey East with eight points from seven games. UNH is fourth in Hockey East with nine points from nine games.

Last three games
Lowell — 3-0 vs. Alabama-Huntsville, 4-0 vs. Amherst, 0-5 at UNH.
UNH — 9-1 vs. Alabama-Huntsville, 6-7 at Harvard, 1-4 at BU.

Prior meetings
Lowell is 30-55-15 against New Hampshire, all-time.

Season series
UNH shellacked Lowell 5-0 at Whittemore Center two weeks ago. It was Lowell’s worst effort of the season by a mile.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Riley Wetmore — 11 GP, 7-4-11 (7 GP, 4-2-6 HE)
Scott Wilson — 10, 5-6-11 (6, 4-3-7)
Matt Ferreira — 11, 5-6-11 (7, 3-4-7)
Chad Ruhwedel — 10, 2-9-11 (6, 2-4-6)
Joseph Pendenza — 11, 3-7-10 (7, 2-5-7)

UNH:
Nick Sorkin — 14 GP, 5-13-18 (9 GP, 2-5-7)
Stevie Moses — 14, 10-7-17 (9, 4-5-9)
Kevin Goumas — 13, 4-10-14 (9, 1-6-7)
Grayson Downing — 13, 5-7-12 (9, 2-1-3)
John Henrion — 14, 4-8-12 (9, 2-2-4)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (6-1-0) — 7 GP, 419:46, 1.573 GAA/.933 sv% (4 GP, 299:36, 2.00/.915 HE)
Brian Robbins (1-3-0) — 4, 197:29, 4.25/.860 (1, 76:35, 7.05/.827)

UNH:
Matt Di Girolamo (6-5-1) — 13 GP, 740:34, 3.24 GAA/.887 sv% (9 GP, 532:13, 3.04/.891 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (11 games) — 38 goals for (3.45/gm), 28 goals against (2.55/gm). Power play 16/67 (23.9%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 37/45 (82.2%, 1 SHGF)
Hockey East (7 games) — 25 goals for (3.57/gm), 22 goals against (3.14/gm). Power play 10/42 (23.8%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 24/31 (77.4%, 1 SHGF)

UNH:
Overall (13 games) — 51 goals for (3.64/gm), 48 goals against (3.43/gm). Power play 12/52 (23.1%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 40/49 (81.6%, 2 SHGF)
Hockey East (9 games) — 26 goals for (2.89/gm), 29 goals against (3.22/gm). Power play 6/29 (20.7%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 28/32 (87.5%, 0 SHGF)

Outlook
It should be noted first and foremost that while Lowell has now crumbled the aura of invincibility surrounding the Alfond Arena, a new fortress now stands dark and threatening overhead.

Lowell simply doesn’t win in Durham as a general rule, and certainly last month’s positively dreadful performance at the Whittemore Center did little to help our concerns about the team’s fragility when making the trip up 95. But with that having been said, these are two games in which we think Lowell has a pretty good chance to take points.

Let’s start with the obvious fact that UNH is simply a pathetically bad road team. How many wins do they have away from their gimmick rink this season? That would be zero. In seven games, they’re 0-5-2 when guesting at another team’s barn, having been outscored — get this — 34-19. It’s almost astonishing that any team ahead of Lowell in the Hockey East standings could be that bad away from home, but here we are. Now granted, like Lowell, UNH’s statistical troubles can largely be written off as having been the result of one ugly stretch: The Wildcats started out the year 0-3 in-league with one goal for and 14 against in those games. That’s bad, and you’d it might indicate that they’re better than that. You would, however, be wrong. That’s because their most recent road efforts were an ugly 4-1 loss at BU (23 of their 34 shots somehow came in the final period of that one) and a 7-6 joke game at Harvard, which by the way is like the seventh-best team in the ECAC. Oh and also they entered the first intermission of that one up by four goals.

So can Lowell, which has lost just one game out of four at Tsongas Center — that to then-No. 1, then-worldbeating BC in a game it could have easily won — pick up two points tomorrow night? Of course it can. UNH’s road penalty kill is the stuff of nightmares at just 23 for 31 (74.2 percent) and Lowell’s power play is 10th-best in the nation. Beyond that, it’s outscoring and outshooting opponents by considerable margins at even strength, which stands as an even better indicator of the quality of its home play. Plus, we’re confident that Norm Bazin made sure the week between these two games was spent hammering home just how hideously ugly the affair was two Fridays ago (extremely) and how badly Lowell should want to prove they’re not the kind of chumps that goes out and gets pushed around by a team that’s winless on the road (also extremely). The River Hawks should and had better be out for blood in the return engagement.

Of course, that leaves Saturday as more of a wild card, given that as bad as UNH is on the road, it’s equally good at home. They’re 6-1 in Durham with the only loss also being against then-No. 1, then-worldbeating BC. On their joke of a rink, they’ve outscored opponents 32-13. Now, more than a quarter of that 32 came in one game against Huntsville, but one can’t begrudge their killer instinct no matter how much we’d like to. And we’re sure that they had at least something to do with the 5-0 beating Lowell took last time it made the trip. That having been said, we also think that if Lowell actually bothers to show up for this one, the final result won’t look anything like a five-goal loss and should at least be competitive.

In reality, we’d probably settle for two points from these games with our needles tipping toward three or even four, but Lowell’s record in Durham the last six years or so has us a bit cautious about demanding that many. We believe in this team very much, but we’re still students of history.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Monty permalink
    December 2, 2011 6:58 am

    I’d love to see this team put itself in a good position going into the break. With these games this weekend and then BC (home) and @ NU next weekend … I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited about Lowell games in a while. Go Hawks!

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  1. Hockey East Weekend Preview: 12/2 | Husky Hockey

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