Semifinal preview: You’re not the chosen brother, Eli
The Lowell River Hawks (28-10-2, 16-9-2 HE) vs. the Yale Bulldogs (20-12-3, 12-9-1 Hockey East)
4:30 p.m. Thursday at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Lowell finished first in Hockey East with 34 points from 27 games, and Yale finished third in the ECAC with 27 points from 22 games.
Last three games
Lowell — 6-1 vs. Wisconsin, 1-0 vs. BU, 2-1 vs. Providence.
Yale — 4-1 vs. North Dakota, 3-2 vs. Minnesota, 0-3 vs. Quinnipiac.
Lowell leads Yale 8-3-0, all-time.
These teams haven’t met since 1999.
Scott Wilson — 40 GP, 16-21-37 (27 GP, 10-15-25 HE)
Joe Pendenza — 40, 14-23-37 (27, 9-20-29)
Derek Arnold — 40, 13-16-29 (27, 10-10-20)
Riley Wetmore — 40, 15-11-26 (27, 13-8-21)
Josh Holmstrom — 40, 12-12-24 (27, 10-7-17)
Kenny Agostino — 35 GP, 17-23-40 (22 GP, 11-14-25 ECAC)
Andrew Miller — 35, 16-21-37 (22, 11-14-25)
Antoine Laganiere — 35, 14-13-27 (22, 7-8-15)
Tommy Fallen — 35, 7-16-23 (22, 4-9-13)
Jesse Root — 32, 11-11-22 (21, 5-7-12)
Connor Hellebuyck (20-2-0) — 23 GP, 1,330:12, 1.31 GAA/.953 sv% (13 GP, 738:08, 1.38/.948 HE)
Doug Carr (8-8-1) — 19, 1,052:29, 2.79/.897 (15, 863:12, 3.06/.889)
Jeff Malcolm (18-6-2) — 28 GP, 1,584:27, 2.35 GAA/.916 sv% (16 GP, 883:12, 2.17/.925 ECAC)
Overall (40 games) — 121 goals for (3.08/gm), 80 goals against (2.00/gm). Power play 32/193 (16.6%, 5 SHGA), penalty kill 138/161 (85.7%, 6 SHGF)
Hockey East (27 games) — 81 goals for (3.00/gm), 63 goals against (2.33/gm). Power play 24/144 (16.7%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 97/114 (85.1%, 5 SHGF)
Overall (35 games) — 100 goals for (2.86/gm), 94 goals against (2.69/gm). Power play 34/161 (21.1%, 5 SHGA), penalty kill 132/158 (83.5%, 1 SHGF)
ECAC (22 games) — 60 goals for (2.65/gm), 62 goals against (2.73/gm). Power play 24/116 (20.7%, 4 SHGA), penalty kill 98/115 (85.2%, 0 SHGF)
Lowell’s leaders vs. Yale
Lowell’s playoff leaders
Scott Wilson — 11, 5-6-11
Riley Wetmore — 13, 2-6-8
Derek Arnold — 11, 3-3-6
Chad Ruhwedel — 11, 1-5-6
Joe Pendenza — 11, 2-3-5
Connor Hellebuyck (6-0-0) — 6 GP, 361:50, 0.83/.972
Doug Carr (2-3-0) — 5, 303:49, 2.51/.929
Yale’s being in the Frozen Four is great for the school, and speaks very well to the kind of excitement the NCAA tournament can produce. Because if things were being doled out equitably, they would be watching from the comfort of their homes just like any other team that doesn’t deserve to make it.
The many ways in which Yale underwhelm begins, we suppose, from the league out of which they will fight. It’s no secret that the ECAC is a colossal and rather silly farce of a conference, and for further evidence of this one need look no farther than the fact that they finished third in it despite having a goal differential of minus-2 against those opponents. And that was just in 22 regular-season games. Add in the ECAC postseason, and the Bulldogs finished still at minus-2 despite the fact that it won twice there. Yale pounded lowly St. Lawrence 6-1 and 3-0 in the quarterfinal, and gave all those goals back in consecutive shutouts against actually decent NCAA teams in Union (5-0 loss) and Quinnipiac (3-0).
They’re here simply because they caught Minnesota sleeping — and clearly just about every good player on that team was thinking about the pro contracts they’d be signing just as soon as they were done lowering themselves to play against a team of this dismal quality — and lucked into playing a so-so North Dakota team that barely snuck by Niagara. Results against the WCHA should barely count in the first place (look at what Hottest Team in the Nation Wisconsin did, or more accurately, did not do, against Lowell to understand all you’ll ever need to know about the quality of that conference and what it takes to rip of 602 wins in a row there) and these two are no different.
In general, it’s pretty hard to judge the quality of teams coming out of conferences this bad, given that Quinnipiac won it walking away and lost to Brown in the league playoffs. The same is true of the stats compiled by the players on the team, which are somewhat amazing in their mediocrity beyond what is obviously a hyper-productive first line. The goaltending stats are pedestrian. The special teams pretty good overall. But in the end, none of it matters remotely.
That’s because Yale has the unique misfortune of having to play this buzzsaw Lowell team, which stands as mountainous as any team in the country has at any point this year, looking invincible in the way that Boston College did on its run to the title last season. Again, Yale has one admittedly very good line. Lowell has four. All can slice teams up in attack and weather any storm when under it; the former fact Wisconsin learned to its dismay, the latter was New Hampshire’s Waterloo.
In the end, it boils down to which team you believe in more deeply. The one that didn’t score a goal once it advanced past the cupcake first round of its league tournament, or the one that has gutted everyone it played in the last month, winning all seven games during that stretch by a combined score of 21-6, thanks to the best defense and goaltending seen by anyone in years. We know which one we’re backing, and it’s not the one whose most famous alumni is a sickening caricature of cartoonishly evil plutocrats: Charles Montgomery Burns.
Lowell’s going to beat these frauds to death with a bowling pin.