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Weekend preview: Fratricide

March 22, 2012

The Lowell River Hawks (23-12-1, 17-9-1 HE) vs. the Miami of Ohio RedHawks (24-14-2, 15-11-2 CCHA)

6 p.m. Friday at Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn.

Lowell finished second in Hockey East with 35 points from 27 games, and Miami of Ohio finished fourth in the CCHA with 48 points from 28 games (what?).

Last three games
Lowell — 0-1 vs. Providence, 3-2 (OT) vs. Providence, 3-5 vs. Providence.
Miami of Ohio — 4-1 vs. Bowling Green, 2-6 vs. Western Michigan, 4-1 vs. Michigan State

Prior meetings
Lowell and Miami of Ohio are tied 0-0-1, all-time.

Season series
These teams did not meet in the regular season, presumably because Miami of Ohio is terrified of Chad Ruhwedel, and justifiably so.

Top scorers
Lowell:
Scott Wilson — 35 GP, 16-21-37 (26 GP, 12-16-28)
Riley Wetmore — 36, 12-25-37 (27, 9-18-27 HE)
Derek Arnold — 36, 17-15-32 (27, 14-12-26)
Matt Ferreira — 35, 13-18-31 (25, 9-13-22)
Joe Pendenza — 36, 10-19-29 (27, 7-15-22)

Miami of Ohio:
Reilly Smith — 38 GP, 30-18-48 (28 GP, 18-10-28 CCHA)
Austin Czarnik — 39, 9-27-36 (27, 7-13-20)
Jimmy Mullin — 36, 11-15-26 (27, 7-11-18)
Blake Coleman — 38, 12-11-23 (26, 9-5-14)
Alden Hirschfeld — 40, 10-13-23 (28, 6-7-13)

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (21-9-1) — 31 GP, 1,850:33, 2.08 GAA/.930 sv% (24 GP, 1,408:02, 2.17/.927 HE)

Miami of Ohio:
Conor Knapp (15-7-0) — 23 GP, 1,286:42, 1.59 GAA/.937 sv% (16 GP, 894:29, 1.41/.945 HE)
Cody Reichard (9-7-2) — 21 GP, 1,117:17, 2.47 GAA/.900 sv% (15 GP, 791:17, 2.50/.899 HE)

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (36 games) — 120 goals for (3.33/gm), 87 goals against (2.42/gm). Power play 36/167 (21.6%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 106/132 (80.3%, 4 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 90 goals for (3.33/gm), 68 goals against (2.52/gm). Power play 27/120 (22.5%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 81/102 (79.4%, 3 SHGF)

Miami of Ohio:
Overall (40 games) — 119 goals for (2.98/gm), 82 goals against (2.05/gm). Power play 25/162 (15.4%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 175/205 (85.4%, 8 SHGF)
CCHA (28 games) — 74 goals for (2.64/gm), 55 goals against (1.96/gm). Power play 11/107 (10.3%, 1 SHGA), 122/142 (85.9%, 6 SHGF)

Outlook
Two things jump out at you pretty quickly when you look at Miami of Ohio’s stats: Its offense is Merrimack-during-the-Da Costa-years bad and its goaltending situation is baffling.

Slightly more than one-quarter of the team’s offense runs through this Reilly Smith joker, which is just bizarre and shows that they’re about as deep at forward as a puddle — or else that Rico Blasi plays his top line some 40 minutes a night — and the rest of the guys with 30-plus points (see also: that one dude) is, we’re assuming because we can’t be bothered to care or indeed look it up, have been his linemate. Oh, however will Lowell contain the vaunted juggernaut offense that drops like a stone off the side of a boat? David Vallorani, who had a disappointing final month of the season, would still be tied for third in their team offense. That’s bad.

Lowell, by contrast, is as deep up front as the body of water into which the above stone was dropped. Scott Wilson and Riley Wetmore (the only respectable homophone of that name playing this weekend) key a high-quality offense the likes of which Miami hasn’t seen in a while, with a second line nearly as lethal as the first and supporting players that can put the puck in the net pretty well themselves. Let’s put ‘er this way: Lowell’s eighth-leading scorer (Terrence Wallin) has as many points as Miami of Ohio’s fifth. And that power play! Why don’t they just decline these things?

The offense here is so one-sided that even the above discussion appears unwarranted, except to say that Miami of Ohio is adorable in the same way a three-year-old with a fake toolbelt helping daddy fix the sink is just so precious.

So let us move on instead to Miami of Ohio’s defense, which really is quite good. Looking at the stats, we cannot imagine a universe in which this team actually leaves its defensive zone for more than the time it takes to change lines — again, the offense gives us no indication that they’ve ever entered the attacking zone this season — but it’s working for them, so what are we gonna criticize, really? What we don’t understand, and maybe some of the brighter RedHawk backers can help us out here, is how a goaltender with stats as good as Connor Knapp’s can possibly not have wrested the No. 1 spot from a goaltender with stats as appalling as Cody Reichard. Does Reichard have compromising pictures of Rico Blasi? Did Knapp kick Blasi’s dog (who, incidentally, is seventh on Miami of Ohio in points this season, with zero)? Perhaps it’s one of those “start your fireballer one day, start your junk dealer the next” things.

It’s baffling that a kid who is apparently not completely incompetent couldn’t beat back the challenge posed by a a borderline-Division 3 player, whose big wins this year have come against the likes of Bowling Green and Huntsville. And Blasi actually said something along the lines of the goaltending situation being decided later this week. Ooo, Rico! OOOOOoooo! Pick us! Start the kid who sucks!

All that considered, we can’t see a way this one doesn’t end heavily in favor of the River Hawks, based solely on the fact that everyone and everything that has ever spent more than a few days in Ohio is terrible by definition.

We will close by noting that Miami of Ohio has a little saying they like to throw around at times like these. Think “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” but less clever.

Theirs is “Go Miami [presumably they forgot to include the “of Ohio” part]. Love and honor.” We, being grown-up adults who understand that sport is, at its heart, competition, have come up with our own, which we feel is more evocative of what we want to see doled out by our dear River Hawks tomorrow.

Go Lowell. Blood and horror.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2012 10:06 am

    About that title. My guess is that you were going for the obvious Miami stereotype headline gag, because 10% of the school is in a frat. Clever. But the word fratricide means killing YOUR OWN sibling. So, to anyone who has taken freshman English lit, even with how obvious the joke is, you’re talking about killing your own teammates. Chill title, brah.

    Do they make you read anything other than the freaking want ads up in Lowell?

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