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This Week in Disrespect: What can men do against such reckless hate?

March 19, 2013

The honeymoon was short-lived.

One would obviously expect that Lowell winning the Hockey East regular season title would be a glorious moment for the players, coaches and fans of the Blue, Red and White. That just seems fair. And so it was, with smiles and high-fives for everyone; a shining moment for the history books. One may go a step further and surmise that such an historic achievement would give the River Hawks a healthy dose of accolades and respect going into the Hockey East quarterfinals against the hapless Maine Black Bears. On may have even thought it should not have been so far out of the realm of possibility for someone to go to the trouble of making a nice horn of plenty out of papier-mâché from all the glorious press clippings, just so that Lowell could be presented literal cornucopia of kudos from near and far, praise from friends as well as rivals, as well as kowtowing and genuflects from the world of the hockey elite.

This is the lack of constant vigilance that we just can’t abide.

Thankfully for the rest of you, we here at The Ice is Life are acutely tuned in when it comes to this kind of thing. We knew what was coming, and we knew there was nothing we could do to stop the irresistible force that is disrespect for our dear River Hawks. A week’s worth of nothing but the finest trivializing of Lowell’s numerous good qualities. How could you expect anything less?

It started off as innocently as these things can, with some heavy-handed praise for Lowell’s opponent. And listen, we get it. When you’re forced to write a game preview about No. 1 Lowell versus No. 8 Maine, there are column inches that need to be filled. Simply stating that Lowell is going to bash Maine over the skull like a group of crazed savages and feast on the goo inside isn’t going to get anyone to their target word count, at least, not without getting perhaps unnecessarily graphic for traditional media. Not that it would have been unwarranted.

The Boston Herald kicks things off in this Dostoyevskian tome of disrespect:

The Black Bears (11-17-8, 7-12-8) captured the season series, 2-1, with all three games decided by a goal. Injuries (119 man-games lost) slowed Maine early but the team caught fire in the second half, going 7-6-6.

When you say “one game over .500,” you’ve said it all. In what possible alternative timeline is a 7-6-6 record down the stretch “catching fire?” Whatever the alleged author of this alleged bit of analysis is being prescribed, his doctors need to fiddle with the dosage, because no properly-functioning human being could possibly swallow this tripe.

Except, of course, for the fact that this was for some reason not an isolated opinion. College Hockey News checks in with a couple of gems:

Both clubs expect a difficult series, and Maine believes its second-half success could lead to a playoff run. The River Hawks, though, pieced together a run that was a bit more impressive.

The emphasis is obviously ours. “A bit more impressive” than 7-6-6, you say? Now that you mention it, what exactly was Lowell’s record the last 19 games of the regular season? Ah yes, here it is. The River Hawks’ slightly more meritorious run over its previous 19 games was 15-3-1. So for those of you keeping score at home, we would like you to keep in mind going forward that being 7-6-6 constitutes being on fire, while 15-3-1 is merely a bit more impressive. Just so that everyone is clear, these people are paid to write about college hockey. No, we’re not kidding. Yes, we wish we were.

And as you might imagine, joy of joys, USCHO had an opinion on the issue. This should be enlightening:

That said, the River Hawks move on to the quarterfinals, a place where a No. 1 seed should have all but an automatic road to the TD Garden. That, however, is hardly the case.

Lowell will face Maine, a team that has played well in the second half of the season but, more importantly, a club that won the season series against the River Hawks. Maine lost its first game against the River Hawks but then won twice, once late in the third period and another in overtime after a late tying goal.

This was, as we predicted, a common theme this week. “Maine took the season series from Lowell.” True and wholly irrelevant, and the results bear that out pretty convincingly. We don’t believe we need to go into the many ways in which this was an awful storyline to try to pick up and run with, but basically the discussion can begin and end with Connor Hellebuyck. Three goals against in 121:50 against Maine. Terrifying stuff.

Here’s more of the same from ESPN:

Still, the River Hawks have a surprisingly tough 1 vs. 8 matchup in the league quarterfinals, as Norm Bazin’s troops will host Maine (11-17-8; 7-12-8) just as it appears to be rounding into form. Tim Whitehead’s eighth-seeded squad has proven it can win big games on the road, not only by knocking UNH out of the home-ice derby with a win (4-3) and a tie (4-4 on Saturday) and ensuring that Massachusetts would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002, but also by taking two from Boston College at Conte Forum in late January.

The Black Bears also beat [redacted]-Lowell at the Tsongas Center back on Nov. 11, and took the season series from the River Hawks, 2-1.

And The Lowell Sun:

But Maine quietly put together a strong second half, going 6-3-4 in its last 10 games. Four of those wins are against nationally-ranked teams, including a 4-3 overtime triumph over [Lowell] and a weekend sweep of defending national champ Boston College on the Eagles’ home ice.

This fails to mention that Maine also lost to Vermont and Amherst during that same stretch, but Chaz Scoggins has never been one to let facts, or Lowell’s clear superiority, get in the way of a thing he’s decided will be the storyline for whatever he’s writing about.

And disreputable SBNation blog BC Interruption chimed in with this, which falls into the category of disrespect bordering on grudging non-respect, which is slightly different:

Lowell is still one of the nation’s hottest teams, but they seemed to really freeze up in the moment last weekend, getting clobbered at home by Providence and being tied 1-1 into the 3rd period in the de facto title game.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they have another Freeze Up in the Moment incident… but if it happens it’ll be at the Garden. They’ll beat Maine, though the Black Bears are certainly playing better hockey as of late.

To say that 3-0 result was Lowell getting “clobbered” is obviously the result of this slack-jawed observer not having watched a second of the contest, and saying the game was tied 1-1 in the third period (not into it, mind you) ignores that Lowell then piled on three more in that period to seal it up with little difficulty. But then we’re looking for reason from people who think you need to capitalize “freeze up in the moment,” so this is our somewhat just punishment.

And then there was this from the College Hockey News (again):

The River Hawks shouldn’t look past the Black Bears; Maine actually took the season series against them.

Lazy, dumb, and not worth responding to again.

And USCHO on the second go-round (included if only for the nauseating pun):

The Black Bears’ youth is good, they have good goaltending, and they certainly have some experience playing playoff hockey this season. They could be HEA’s ‘Diamond in the rough.’

Yuck.

What we hope to impress on you, the readers of this fine website, is that we’re not kidding when we talk about the avalanche of disrespect to which Lowell is subjected on a daily basis. This is the same Lowell team that became the first non-Big Four team to win the Hockey East regular season title. This is also the same Maine team that finished in eighth place only because they just couldn’t reach down into their guts and muster a worse season than Northeastern and Amherst were capable of defecating out this season. This is the same Maine team whose leading scorer, a borderline psychopath and definitive sociopath, was their only player to hit double-digit goals. The average person reading these series previews would be hard-pressed to know that one of these teams was and is top-five in the country while the other is barely of NAIA quality.  As we mentioned, we understand trying to talk the series down from a certain Chernobyl to a probable Three-Mile Island just to keep things even remotely interesting, but the foul, frothing disrespect that pulsates from these articles simply turns our stomachs.

So pervasive was the disrespect of the media that it even trickled down to Maine’s players themselves, who would under normal circumstances have been cowering in terror at the mere idea of having to try to score on Connor Hellebuyck while simultaneously preventing Scott Wilson and Co. from scoring and avoiding getting checked into next season by Christian Folin and Chad Ruhwedel. Here is league-average goaltender Martin Ouellette answering what we can only assume was a leading “question” that in reality simply began with, “Talk about… :”

“It doesn’t matter who we play in the first round,” said [Martin] Ouellette “We are going to go out there and nothing is going to stop us from winning the series. If we play like we did (last) weekend, we will go to the Garden.”

Well, that obviously didn’t pan out, but we should note it didn’t have to be this way. There are several events in history that mirror the type of contest Lowell vs. Maine was destined to become. The U.S. invasion of Grenada comes to mind. The Dream Team playing against your pick of nation(s). The Jimmy Conway crew versus poor Billy Batts. We’re not saying the result was predetermined mind you, we’re just saying we actually ripped up our tickets to the theoretical Sunday game when they arrived and tossed them in the recycling bin.

There was more placating the Black Bears’ collective ego when it came to the playoff history between the two teams. Here, once again, is USCHO:

The fact that Lowell drew Maine wasn’t the best of omens coming into the playoffs. In tournament history, the River Hawks have a 1-14-0 mark against the Black Bears, including a 1-9-0 record in quarterfinal games. Many of those games occurred in the early days of the league when the Black Bears were a power and Lowell was forced to head to the road.

Now, having personally been in attendance several times when Maine ended Lowell’s season in the horrifying citadel of at least five of the seven deadly citys that is Alfond Arena, we know all too well that our River Hawks have struggled against this team in the past. We also remember rotary telephones, and when East Germany was a thing that existed. Neither has any bearing on today. Likewise, Martin Oulette is no Jimmy Howard. Here’s a free piece of advice that we’re not sure Maine fans (or the media mouthbreathers who slobber all over them) have really come to understand quite yet: No one is scared of this team in 2013. Sure, most are petrified that Joey Diamond will at least try to paralyze someone and do a jig on their motionless body, but no one is scared of actually playing Maine on the ice at hockey. In the stands, absolutely. But the days of seeing Maine on the schedule and feeling a sense of dread are long gone, except when it comes to property values and the very idea of a gaggle of hillbillies staring for hours at your intact roof and reliable in-home electricity.

And, we think it would shock you 0 percent to learn, the disrespect didn’t just stop when Lowell stomped a mudhole in the Black Bears and walked it dry. No, even after Derek Arnold scored the overtime game-winner, the volleys continued:

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 2.23.41 AM

We can’t say for certain when, exactly, Lowell added a middle-aged television host and radio guy to the roster, but we sure are glad it did. That guy’s goal was a pretty … what’s that? Oh right, Derek Arnold. that’s a person who plays for Lowell. Well hey, their last names are the same and their first names both start with D, so we can see how the mistake gets made. Can’t wait to see how Carl Hellebuyck does against James Gillies on Friday.

Normally, the runaway freight train of disrespect is contained in the worlds of print and online media. Seeing as how Lowell is getting a lot of attention for being a really, really good hockey team, local television has decided to dip a toe in the bitter cold waters and see just how stupid they can sound when discussing a team they’re clueless about.

Our first former AV Club vice president comes from Bangor, Maine, television station (something we admit we had no idea existed) WBLZ. Reporting from the Tsongas Center, and obviously trying to avoid the puddles formed from the puffy red eyes of Maine coaches, players, and fans, the quote-unquote journalist mentioned that with its predictable Lowell is headed to the Garden for the first time in its history. These are actual words that came out of the mouth of someone who is paid to report the news, albeit 1. poorly, and 2. in the nation’s 5,291st market. Such blatant disrespect can only have been masterminded by Eternal Archnemesis Joe Bertagna in a sorry attempt to erase the Non-Goal from the history books. “Outraged” doesn’t begin to accurately reflect our reaction to this garbage.

Compounding the visual viscera, a graphic displayed on NESN depicted the upcoming Hockey East Semifinal at the Boston Garden correctly listed Providence as No. 17, Boston University at No. 16, and Boston College at No. 6, but, ahem, “somehow” left off Lowell’s rank in the national poll, at the time No. 7 (now No. 5). An innocent mistake, one might think. However, when you add in the fact that everyone else had their rankings proudly, and properly, displayed next to their names, there can be no doubt that this is yet another smear campaign against the Lowell River Hawks, as deep as it is daunting. We tried to warn you about all this in advance. The idle scribblings of the chronically lazy college hockey media — who never saw a pro-Big Four storyline they didn’t love deeply and unequivocally — have long been something of which we’ve made numerous meals, and now we know for sure that even when one team breaks through the glass ceiling and actually intrudes upon that aristocratic peace, their accomplishments will be downplayed, their supporters shouted down, and their chances sandbagged at every turn. This is the way it always has been, and seems to be the way it will always be. Complacency is a vile disease.

So keep that in mind as we prepare for what we’re sure is going to be a fantastic weekend of victory and celebration. For our part, we will never forget that it is our job — nay, our responsibility — to continue reminding every River Hawk supporter that our team, our school and everything we stand for continues to be pressured from jealous ne’er-do-wells, and we’re under unrelenting assault. So even when your hearts overrun with joy and price when Riley Wetmore and Co. raise the Lamoriello Trophy on Saturday night, make sure there’s a tiny space at the very bottom where you can keep the knowledge that disrespect will always be lurking around the corner.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Robinson, aka "Fishhawk" permalink
    March 19, 2013 9:55 am

    I realize there is so much disrespect out there it’s impossible to keep track of it all but I’m surpised you didn’t mention USCHO.com David Hendrickson’s HEA Semis Blog from 3/18. The guy prattles on and on for over 400 words about over rated (my words, not his) BC and underacheiving (again, me) BU. York’s eye, Parker’s last season, sniff sniff, great theater, end of an era, boo hoo, blah, blah, blah. Hendrickson reserves over 100 words to talk about the also rans in the HEA tournament. UNH who is in the midst of one of the biggest flops in college hockey history (me not him, of course) gets a mention and Hendrickson sheds a few tears for Maine, Vermont and Merrimack who managed to muster up 9 goals in 6 games while getting their lowly buttocks swept out of the tournament.

    Grudgingly it seems, Hendrickson dedicates 93 words to the Lowell – Providence game. 93 words on Lowell, who squashed Maine like the backwoods mosquitos they are, outscoring them 6-3 and outshooting them 73-45 and Providence who knocked off NH, a team who’s coach played for a tie when it cost him home ice and who will undoubtedly be a first round patsy for some lucky team in the NCAAs as a host team. Does Hendrickson mention Lowell is the hottest team in the whole country? Lowell’s national ranking or spot in the PWR? That we have the 4th highest winning % in D1 hockey? The fact we have already clinched an NCAA birth and are playing for a #1 regional seed? Does he mention the UML- PC game matches up the top 2 goalies in HEA, who also happen to be freshmen? Nope, I guess none of that stuff is interesting. Instead Hendrickson aptly points out that UML and PC played each other last weekend. Mmm hmm, good to know, as if anyone didn’t already. He then goes on to say we’re strangers to the Garden compared to allmighty BU and BC and that it’s been 12 years since UML and PC have both made the semis, as if that’s some tasty well researched nugget instead of a totally irrelevant and boring waste of bytes.

    The most inexplicably disrespectful sentence in the blog however is Hendrickson’s too little, too lame attempt to give UML any credit whatsoever. He gushes: “Kudos to Lowell coach Norm Bazin and PC coach Nate Leaman for the exceptional turnarounds they’ve performed in just two years at those schools.” “Kudos”, which loosely translated means “half hearted pat on the back” is a word most people reserve for when they have to praise someone they dislike. I’ll agree that Coach Leaman has performed an “exceptional turnaround”. 31-33-11 and 2 trips to the Garden in 2 years is very good. Congratulations. But mentioning Leaman in the same sentence with Norm Bazin? Really? The same Norm Bazin who was 2012 HEA Coach of the Year, engineered the greatest 1 year turnaround in D1 history, has a 48-23-3 record in 2 seasons, went to the final 8 in the 2012 NCAA tournament, has clinched a 2013 NCAA tournament birth and became the first coach from a school other than ME, BU, BC or NH to win a Regular Season Title in HEA history? This is like comparing the cute checkout girl at Marketbasket with Kate Upton or the “steak” on a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwhich with a Capital Grille 24 oz Aged Porterhouse. Exceptional turnaround? Try historic. Never-before-seen. Never-see-again. Miraculous!

    Great “piece” Mr. Hendrickson. Piece of what you ask? Let’s just say it resembles the alternate defintion for your word “Kudos” which is a small, lumpy, brown candy bar.

    • Steve permalink
      March 19, 2013 11:42 am

      This is an absolutely amazing reply.

      • Chris Robinson, aka "Fishhawk" permalink
        March 19, 2013 12:29 pm

        Thank you sir!

  2. C Dub permalink
    March 19, 2013 12:15 pm

    Not that he deserves a reprieve, but for semantics sake, the Maine reporter is technically right – Lowell hasn’t been to the TD Garden for a Hockey East Tournament yet (it got its name change in 7/09). Lowell has, however, been to the Hockey East Tournament at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Fleet Center, The Boston Garden and The Providence Civic Center.

    That having been said, the reporter clearly intended to say that Lowell had never been to the HE semifinal before. We should remember though, that Tourney records are written down, and not part of the “oral tradition of the hills” by which most Mainers receive information, so he would have had no way of accessing said records.

  3. Rich permalink
    March 20, 2013 11:44 am

    To add to the disrespect, Jeff Bunyon will be a ref in the game

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