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Weekend preview: And now, the end is near

March 1, 2012

The Lowell River Hawks (20-10-1, 15-9-1 HE) vs. the Providence College Friars (12-16-4, 10-12-3 HE)

7 p.m. Friday at Schneider Arena, Providence, R.I.
7 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell is third in Hockey East with 31 points from 25 games. Providence is seventh in Hockey East with 23 points from 25 games.

Last three games
Lowell — 2-2 vs. Merrimack, 2-5 at Merrimack, 4-2 at BU.
Providence — 0-7 at BC, 0-3 vs. BC, 2-2 at Northeastern (OT).

Prior meetings
Lowell trails Providence 38-48-10, all-time.

Season series
Lowell got stunned by Providence on a Tuesday night in the midst of an hellacious five-in-eight-days stretch at Schneider, losing 1-0 in a pretty dire performance from everyone excepting Doug Carr.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Riley Wetmore — 31 GP, 10-23-33 (25 GP, 7-18-25 HE)
Scott Wilson — 30, 15-17-32 (24, 12-13-25)
Derek Arnold — 31, 15-13-28 (25, 12-10-22)
Matt Ferreira — 30, 10-18-28 (24, 8-13-21)
David Vallorani — 31, 10-15-25 (25, 7-13-20)

Providence:
Ross Mauermann — 32 GP, 8-14-22 (25 GP, 7-11-18 HE)
Tim Schaller — 22, 14-6-20 (16, 11-5-16)
Matt Bergland — 32, 5-15-20 (25, 3-14-17)
Derek Army — 32, 8-10-18 (25, 6-8-14)
Drew Brown — 32, 4-12-16 (25, 3-11-14)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (19-7-1) — 27 GP, 1,601:03, 2.10 GAA/.927 sv% (23 GP, 1,348:02, 2.23/.926 HE)

Providence:
Alex Beaudry (11-15-4) — 31 GP, 1,686:30, 3.02 GAA/.893 sv% (25 GP, 1,354:37, 2.92/.895 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (31 games) — 105 goals for (3.31/gm), 76 goals against (2.45/gm). Power play 32/149 (21.5%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 94/114 (79.0%, 4 SHGF)
Hockey East (25 games) — 81 goals for (3.24/gm), 65 goals against (2.60/gm). Power play 25/113 (22.1%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 75/96 (78.1%, 3 SHGF)

Providence:
Overall (32 games) — 81 goals for (2.53/gm), 103 goals against (3.22/gm). Power play 25/157 (15.9%, 2 SHGA), penalty kill 130/162 (80.2%, 8 SHGF)
Hockey East (25 games) — 65 goals for (2.60/gm), 80 goals against (3.20/gm). Power play 21/118 (17.8%, 1 SHGA), penalty kill 102/125 (81.6%, 7 SHGF)

Outlook
We’ve said that a lot of Lowell’s recent games are of the must-win variety but jeez if these aren’t actually the must-winnest of the season. Someone did the math and figured out that if Lowell gets three or four points out of Providence this weekend, it’s more or less guaranteed an NCAA tournament spot and at least a third-place finish.

But as we’ve seen with previous must-win games for this team, that’s easier said than done. Lowell has one just one of its last five games to begin with and one of these next two is in Providence which, we’re sorry to say, is a place Lowell simply cannot win. The last time Lowell picked up a W at Schneider, we’ll note, was 2006. It’s 0-5-3 in games there since then, and scoring just two goals per game in those. We don’t feel the need to remind you, again, that this is a team that went down there a little over a month ago and played rather poorly in a 1-0 loss.

Of course, the mitigating factor in all this, as it was the last time Lowell faced Providence, is that the Friars just got finished with a weekend in which they were thoroughly embarrassed by BC, once again the class of the league to no one’s surprise. We mentioned it earlier this week, but the last time Lowell played Providence, BU had just pasted it in a similar fashion, and that certainly seemed to light a fire under the hosts.

But Lowell does have one advantage. College Hockey News is reporting that Tim Schaller (14 goals in 22 games!) and defenseman Mark Adams will miss the weekend with injuries. Of course, Lowell didn’t have to worry about Schaller the last time the teams met either, and it didn’t help much, but Providence being short a defenseman is certainly going to help Lowell’s cause.

That having been said, there’s no way Lowell can afford to get anything less than a sweep. Three points might do it, but it won’t as far as we’re concerned. This team has to roll into the playoffs strong and flattening Providence for four points is one hell of a way to do it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Rich permalink
    March 2, 2012 5:15 am

    A weekend sweep plus a loss by BU and it will likely make this same Providence team travel back up here for next weekend. Time to show them that Lowell isn’t in the same class as them, and make them dread possibly coming here next weekend

  2. Monty permalink
    March 2, 2012 7:13 am

    This weekend will say a lot about what Lowell fans can expect in the HE playoffs. Has this Lowell team just run out of gas, or did they just hit a small slump that (with 3 or 4 points this weekend) they’ve overcome and ready to make noise starting next weekend?

  3. March 2, 2012 7:07 pm

    Everything points to UNH coming to Lowell

    • Rich permalink
      March 3, 2012 7:59 am

      Im still hoping for a BU loss tonight so we can sneak into second and play either Providence or Amherst. Though I doubt Merrimack is going to lose tonight with a chance at home ice.

  4. Monty permalink
    March 2, 2012 9:21 pm

    Great play by the boys tonight … if they’re going to go on a nice little winning streak … this wouldn’t be a bad time. Just sayin’…

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