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Thursday preview: We must break you

January 5, 2012

The Lowell River Hawks (12-5-0, 7-4-0 HE) vs. the Russian Red Stars (1-4-0)

7 p.m. Thursday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is fourth in Hockey East with 14 points from 11 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 4-3 (ot) at UConn, 7-2 vs. RPI, 3-4 at Northeastern.
RRS — 4-6 at Yale (exh.), 2-3 at Northern Michigan (exh.), 1-2 at Notre Dame (exh.).

Prior meetings
These teams have never met.

Season series
Nothing to report.

Top scorers
Lowell:
David Vallorani — 17 GP, 8-10-18 (11 GP, 5-8-13 HE)
Matt Ferreira — 17, 7-11-18 (11, 5-6-11)
Riley Wetmore — 17, 7-10-17 (11, 4-5-9)
Scott Wilson — 16, 8-8-16 (10, 5-4-9)
Joe Pendenza — 17, 6-9-15 (11, 3-7-10)

RRS:
Roman Lyubimov — 5 GP, 3-3-6
Grigory Aksyutov — 5, 1-5-6
Artem Gareev — 5, 2-3-5
Maxim Kvitchenko — 5, 3-0-3
Alexander Titov — 5, 2-0-2

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (11-2-0) — 13 GP, 791:39, 1.89 GAA/.930 sv% (9 GP, 538:38, 2.12/.926 HE)

RRS:
Rafael Khakimov (0-2-0) — 3 GP, 170:10, 2.82 GAA/.909 sv%
Eugeny Ivannikov (1-2-0) — 3, 128:17, 3.27/.897

Team stats

Lowell:
Overall (17 games) — 62 goals for (3.65/gm), 43 goals against (2.53/gm). Power play 19/92 (20.7%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 55/67 (82.1%, 2 SHGF)
Hockey East (11 games) — 38 goals for (3.45/gm), 32 goals against (2.91/gm). Power play 12/56 (21.4%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 36/44 (81.8%, 1 SHGF)

RRS:
Overall (5 games) — 14 goals for (2.80/gm), 17 goals against (3.40/gm). Power play 3/23 (13.0%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 19/25 (76.0%, 1 SHGF)

Outlook
The Russian Red Stars, a junior team made up of all-stars from the Russian major junior league MHL, come to town tonight and we fully expect Lowell to beat them.

The only thing is, we’re not sure what to expect from them.

This team bussed it from Notre Dame all day yesterday to be here with us and have reportedly suffered numerous similar hardships in other portions of their trip to the states. They showed up here in the States for a game on Dec. 17 against North Dakota and you can pretty well guess how that went. They got clobbered. Since then they’ve traveled all over the country, mostly losing squeakers, and also beating Vermont 6-1 (because who can’t demolish the Catamounts, apparently?).

From what we were able to glean from the stats, this seems to be a one-line team that isn’t very skilled beyond that. They’ve scored 14 goals in five games, not a bad number, but six of those have from from their top line and no one else is anything near a point a game. So we guess our advice would be to put Chad Ruhwedel and Jake Suter across the ice from the Lyubimov-Aksyutov-Gareev line, but even that line got broken up in the 2-1 loss to Notre Dame.

Obviously these kids are here for a reason and as best we can tell a few have played in the KHL — a men’s league — for at least a few games this year. They’re not to be taken lightly, but we think this is a team Lowell can beat without much trouble.

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