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Loose pucks: Dog day afternoon

January 17, 2012

Three things that make us cheerful:
1) A home game, at long last.

By the time Friday rolls around, it will have been about 42 days since we last saw live Hockey East play at Tsongas Center. That’s 1,008 hours. It’s 60,480 minutes. And it’s close to 3.63 million seconds. In short, too many. But that will all change on Friday and we couldn’t be more excited.

2) Dogs.

No, not the mangy and probably worm-riddled specimens that will scrape their sorry hides into Tsongas Center on Friday and play our River Hawks, but the lovable, cuddly guys that will be coming as part of the school’s Pucks and Paws promotion. Bring your dog to the game if you have one because the proceeds from the dog’s ticket goes to the Lowell Humane Society. Even if you don’t have a dog, you should still give money to the Lowell Humane Society because they probably need it more than you need an extra beer at the game on Friday. Be smart out there.

3) Russians.

Lowell officially announced that its long-rumored Russian recruit would be joining the team for the second half of the season. Dmitry Sinitsyn is a 17-year-old, big defenseman and he’s supposed to be pretty good. So good, in fact, that he never played a second of junior hockey in the United States. He went right from U-16s to Lowell and is expected to play this season. He’ll be the only ’94 birthdate in the entire NCAA, which is pretty cool. One suspects that he would have gotten significantly more interest from other Division 1 schools in another season (or perhaps gone the Russian junior/KHL route) but Lowell swooped in and grabbed him while he was waiting for a new student visa. Can’t wait to see the kid play.

Two things that make us tearful:
1) Losing to Vermont.

It is seriously terrible. Only losses to Amherst make us sadder.

2) Road performances in general.

For all its dominance at Tsongas Center this year, Lowell hasn’t been good on the road in some time. The River Hawks have just three wins in seven games against Hockey East teams on the road this year, and two of those came in Maine back in early November. They’ve scored 21 goals in those seven games, which seems like a lot until you realize nine of those came, once again, in Orono. More problematically, they’ve conceded 26 in those seven games, compared to just nine in five at home. Can things get better for Lowell on the road? Of course. But the fact is that it currently needs four road wins just to get back to .500 away from home, and that’s a big ask.

Stat of the Week
With the previous negative from the weekend in mind, we decided to take a look at some of Lowell’s most successful seasons to see if this trend is at all unprecedented. After all, the River Hawks, with nine home games left on the regular-season schedule and 15 overall, it would take a formidable meltdown to prevent this team getting to 20 wins.

And in the rest of the Lowell’s history as a Division 1 program, there have only been eight other 20-win teams. So have any of them ever been this bad on the road in league play? In short, not really. The average Lowell 20-win team averaged 14.13 points on the road in Hockey East play from 12.63 road games per season, or a .560 winning percentage, which isn’t great, but it’s miles better than current River Hawks.

Lowell’s best-ever road season among those considered came in 1995-96, the last year it qualified for the NCAA tournament. The record away from home that year was 8-3-1.

But there is some good news here. Two of the Lowell teams that won 20 games finished below .500 on the road. The most recent was in 2005-06, when Lowell went 5-7-1 on the road with a minus-5 goal differential. The better news is that the other team made the NCAA tournament in 1987-88, even as it went 5-7-0 with a minus-3 goal differential away from Tully Forum.

So all hope is not lost quite yet.

We have very deep concerns
As you can see, we’re trying to stay positive to some extent but if Lowell were to stumble this weekend we might officially hit the panic button. Thoughts and opinions on that decision are welcomed.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Monty permalink
    January 17, 2012 5:08 pm

    It’s going to be tough not to feel like all that effort was wasted if Lowell loses both games this weekend. I keep reminding myself that Lowell wasn’t supposed to be this good, this fast, and that my expectations were for an up-and-down type year … and amazingly, this has been much more up. Here’s hoping … and definitely hoping for Sinitsyn to light up this league for the next few years.

  2. bob permalink
    January 17, 2012 5:48 pm

    The Friday game is huge, the Hawks need to win it. Going into NU needing a win for a split will be very tough. NU is big and physical so the Hawks better be ready.

    Agree, things have gone better than expected. Now the Hawks just need to take care of business in the games against NU, PC, UMA and UVM.

  3. Bucky permalink
    January 18, 2012 4:19 pm

    I expect a split this weekend but I would be disappointed in a home loss. Hopefully, they will come away with at least three points so they don’t lose the tiebreak to NU for a second straight year.

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