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Loose pucks: Down the stretch they come

February 21, 2012

Three things that are great grand wonderful:
1) Stayin’ with it.

Lowell could have packed it in for the weekend headed into the third period of Friday’s game down 5-2, but hey whaddaya know, it didn’t. Over the next four periods of hockey, Lowell outscored the Terriers 6-4 and ended up earning the split they so desperately needed to both keep pace with BC and pick up another season series W. This is a very good team, one which has lost back-to-back games just three times this year, and two of those were in a three-game losing streak very early in the season. Can’t see it happening again any time soon.

2) Doug Carr.

That thing above about being resilient? Carr personifies it. His worst performance of the season by a wide margin and he comes out and stops 39 of 41 on the road in answer. Despite giving up eight goals in a little more than five periods — an horrifying number by any measure — his stats are still the best in the conference by a wide margin. No-doubt Goaltender of the Year.

3) Jerry York.

It’s incredibly rare, for obvious reasons, that we praise anything not having to do with Lowell, but York picked up his 900th career win on Friday night, at home, and in doing so became just the second coach in college hockey history to reach that mark. He’s probably about three and a half seasons or so away from 1,000 wins. It’s mind-blowing stuff, if you think about it. Nicest guy in the world, unbelievable developer of players, great coach. All of it goes without saying. BC fans are very lucky to have him. Doesn’t mean he should win Hockey East Coach of the Year over Norm Bazin, though. Or that Johnny Gaudreau should win the Rookie of the Year award over Scott Wilson. That would just be stupid.

Two things that are terrible awful no-good very bad:
1) Giving up a touchdown.

So that’s what it feels like to have everything in a game that could go wrong defensively go horribly, horribly wrong? Let’s hope it never happens again.

2) Dropping out of first.

It was fun while it lasted but Lowell’s Friday loss and BC’s sweep of Merrimack bounced the River Hawks out of first in favor of the Eagles, who now have just Providence and Vermont as their remaining opponents. Gonna be a tough road for the River Hawks to travel if they want to win a regular season title.

Stat of the Week
Of note on Saturday, lost in the hubbub of winning the season series against BU, is that the win was the River Hawks’ 20th of the season, if you can believe it. Who would have thought Lowell would quadruple its win total from last year? Not us, certainly.

But it was the ninth time since the program jumped to Division 1 for the 1983-84 season that a Lowell team put together 20 wins. But how does this run compare with those in years past? Funny you should ask. This is the second-earliest Lowell has ever hit the 20-win mark, missing a tie for fastest ever by two days.

Here is a list of all nine of Lowell’s 20-win teams and the date on which they picked up that milestone W.

1986-87 (22-12-2): Feb. 21, 5-4 in OT at Providence.
1987-88 (20-17-2): March 10, 2-1 at Northeastern. (Qualified for the NCAA tournament)
1992-93 (20-17-2): March 20, 5-4 in OT vs. New Hampshire at Boston Garden in the Hockey East final four consolation game.
1993-94 (25-10-5): Feb. 19, 6-3 at Providence. (Qualified for NCAA tournament)
1995-96 (26-10-4): Feb. 16, 3-2 at Merrimack. (Qualified for NCAA tournament) 
2001-02 (22-13-3): March 1, 6-1 vs. Providence.
2004-05 (20-12-4):  March 3, 5-1 at Merrimack.
2008-09 (20-16-2): March 20, 3-2 in OT vs. Northeastern at TD Garden in the Hockey East semifinals.
2011-12 (20-9-0 and counting): Feb. 18, 4-2 at Boston University.

Weird that in nine seasons, Lowell has won its 20th game at home just once, and also that Providence, Northeastern, and Merrimack figure so heavily into the numbers historically (accounting for three, two and two of those wins, respectively).

A note of congratulations
Lowell hockey isn’t the only group of River Hawk athletes that has been doing well. How about a hand for the Lowell indoor track team, which dominated at the Northeast-10 championships. For the men, Evan White won two events and was named the conference’s Men’s Athlete of the Year. Meanwhile, the women’s team won the conference title outright behind Ashley Zielinski’s Athlete of the Meet performance. That’s just another reason Lowell is Soaring With Pride these days, losers.

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