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Weekend preview: The New Tweeder End Zone Dance

October 4, 2012

The Lowell River Hawks (0-0-0) vs. the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (0-0-0)

4 p.m. Saturday at Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass.

Lowell finished second in Hockey East with 35 points from 27 games.

Last three games
Lowell (last season) — 2-4 vs. Union, 4-3 (OT) vs. Miami of Ohio, 0-1 vs. Providence.
Toronto — 1-7 vs. York (exh.), 4-6 vs. York (exh.), 7-0 vs. UOIT (exh.)

Prior meetings
Lowell and Toronto are tied 1-1, all-time.

Season series
These teams haven’t met since Nov. 28, 1982.

Top scorers
Lowell (returning from 2011-12):
Riley Wetmore — 38 GP, 14-25-39 (27 GP, 9-18-27 HE)
Scott Wilson — 37, 16-22-38 (26 GP, 12-16-28)
Derek Arnold — 38, 17-17-32 (27, 14-12-26)
Joe Pendenza — 38, 10-19-29 (27, 7-15-22)
Terrence Wallin — 38, 8-17-25 (27, 4-14-18)

Toronto (returning from 2011-12 (we think)):
Kyle Ventura — 28 GP, 15-9-24
Blake Boddy — 28, 8-8-16
Michael Markovic — 28, 6-10-16
Matt Walters — 25, 3-11-14
Paul van de Velde — 28, 4-10-14

Goaltending
Lowell:
Doug Carr (22-10-1) — 33 GP, 1,971:52, 2.13 GAA/.928 sv% (24 GP, 1,408:02, 2.17/.927 HE)

Toronto:
Garrett Sheehan (8-7-0) — 15 GP, 770:11, 2.96 GAA/.914 sv%
Brett Willows (8-5-0) — 14 GP, 763:06, 2.99 GAA/.913 sv%

Team stats
Lowell:
Overall (38 games) — 126 goals for (3.32/gm), 94 goals against (2.47/gm). Power play 37/176 (21.0%, 3 SHGA), penalty kill 111/138 (80.4%, 5 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)

Toronto:
Overall (28 games) — 88 goals for (3.14/gm), 78 goals against (2.79/gm). Power play 31/196 (15.8%, 0 SHGA), penalty kill 150/181 (82.9%, 2 SHGF)

Outlook
There is very little chance, in our opinion, that Lowell loses this game to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. This is a team that was mediocre by Canadian Interuniversity Sport standards, going just 16-9-3 last year (and that’s with the team having won seven of its last 10). The goaltending is fine, the offense is fine, the defense is not. There you go, that’s the summation of the team’s performance in 2011-12. We would tell you more about how it has done in its three exhibition games so far this year, but UT is being extremely tight-lipped about that.

Apart from the results, blurbs are limited to about a paragraph or two per game at best, and none of these major junior washouts have names that you’d recognize. We also can’t find a finalized roster, either on the school’s site, CIS’s site, or any other hockey databases we know of online. We are guessing at its returning players.  It’s also impossible to tell whether its games to this point have been exhibitions, but it’s believed they were. Maybe?

What we can tell you, though, is that in two games — which, again, may or may not have counted in the standings — they conceded 13 goals to York University. So how good can they really be?

On the other hand, there is Lowell, littered with names you’d recognize if you were a fan of any team in Hockey East, or an even somewhat-involved fan of teams in other conferences. Doug Carr is a head-turning goaltender. Scott Wilson set the league on fire in his freshman season. Riley Wetmore is the best two-way center in the league. Chad Ruhwedel is an unstoppable monster. And so forth. These are some of the best players on the second-best team in the deepest college hockey conference in the world. You can look them up on any number of websites, and the results, for opponents anyway, are scarily definitive, right on your screen in black and white and whatever the color of the liquid you were drinking when you watched Lowell’s highlights from last season. So we ask the visiting Torontonians to please, try to show some respect.

We know they won’t though. If this is like any other CIS exhibition game for Lowell, it’s going to be filled with penalties, in part because the refs are shaking loose the rust of an offseason as well, and also because again, these visiting players are brainless thugs two rungs below Joey Diamond, if you can believe such an awful thing exists, who couldn’t cut it in the OHL. Lowell will get lots of power plays, and probably more than a few matching minors of its own, once it goes up by half a dozen. We do not envy the guys who took a bus down from Ontario just to get bossed around by Lowell on a Saturday afternoon, though they’ll probably enjoy the reprieve they get in playing BU the next day.

So no, if you were wondering, all this success — as Lowell supporters, bloggers, and human beings — hasn’t mellowed our attitudes toward the River Hawks. No matter what the stakes, we want them raining carnage on everyone they play.

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