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Weekend in review: Red Haven’s on fire

March 15, 2016

Lowell’s weekend was as glorious as it was predictable. The River Hawks swept the Boston University Terriers in two games, winning a tightly fought game 3-2 on Friday before raining down hellfire in a 5-0 drubbing on Saturday night to claim their fourth consecutive trip to the Boston Garden.

Lowell trailed for all of 2:36 on the weekend and were clearly the far superior team for the majority of the series. The River Hawk breakout was crisp, the defense was stout and Kevin Boyle once again demonstrated why he’s the Player of the Year in Hockey East. Boyle posted a .966 SV% over the weekend, allowing just two goals in 59 shots and collecting his seventh shutout of the year; a new single season record breaking the mark set by Connor Hellebyuck in both 2012 and 2013.

Boyle has been Lowell’s best player all season, but he’s really put it all together the past two weeks. In two games against Boston College and Boston University respectively, Boyle has allowed just 5 goals on 110 shots for a save percentage of .954. With Norm Bazin’s trademark defense in front of him, the River Hawks are only going to go as far as Boyle can take them.

It wasn’t solely the defense effort that sent the Terriers packing. CJ Smith had a monster weekend with two goals and two assists to lead he River Hawks. Joe Gambardella and Adam Chapie added three points apiece, while Jake Kamrass and John Edwardh each had a goal and an assist. Maybe most exciting (and relieving) for Lowell fans was the resurgence of the power play. Friday’s win was the result of Lowell winning the special teams battle, something we haven’t been able to say for months. Lowell went 2-for-4 with the extra skater while the penalty kill shut down both BU attempts.

In other quarterfinal action, Northeastern disposed of Notre Dame to continue their torrid path to an NCAA berth. With wins of 3-1 and 6-4, the Huskies are going back to the Garden for the first time since 2011. Northeastern’s turnaround is nothing short of miraculous and has elevated Jim Madigan from “assuredly fired” to “probable Coach of the Year” in a few short months. NU still has work to do, but a win in the semifinals against Boston College would make them a favorite for one of the remaining at-large bids.

Boston College needed three games and an anxiety filled overtime period on Sunday to avoid a repeat upset at the hands of Vermont. The Catamounts were playing with house money and had chances to punch their ticket to the Garden, only to be thwarted by a disallowed goal on what we’ll generously call a questionable video review for a “distinct kicking motion”. Vermont outhustled and outworked Boston College on Sunday, and York’s boys are going to need to figure it out fast before Northeastern cleans their clock on Friday.

The last quarterfinal series saw Providence College complete their fool’s errand and defeat Merrimack College in two straight games. Like Lowell, the Friars have also reached the Garden for the fourth straight year. However unlike the River Hawks, Providence has been eliminated in each of their semifinal games. Providence now holds the dubious honor of having to play Lowell to reach their first Hockey East finals since 2001. We don’t envy the tall task awaiting the Friars, but we take comfort in knowing they’ll feel right at home getting bounced in the semifinals.

Our Weekly Awards
Player of the Week
Kevin Boyle, Lowell (Senior Goaltender) – A tip of the cap to another outstanding weekend for Boyle. It’s a shame that he isn’t getting more attention for the season that he’s having. It’s interesting to note that Boyle was criticized early and often after transferring to Lowell by pundits and fans who insisted on comparing him to the great Connor Hellebuyck. Boyle has shown all of Hockey East that the comparison is actually more than fair and that he’s holding up pretty well.
(Honorable mention: CJ Smith, Lowell; Joe Gambardella, Lowell)

Rookie of the Week
Nick Master, Lowell (Freshman Forward) – Master picked up two assists in Lowell’s 5-0 win on Saturday night. The forward from Broomall, PA has amassed eight goals and 14 assists for the River Hawks this season.
(Honorable Mention – Niklas Folin, Lowell)

Ham n Egger of the Week
Boston University – Not only were the Terriers outplayed, they folded like a cheap suit after giving up two laughers on Saturday. We imagine head coach Dave Quinn’s decision to give noted sieve Sean Maguire the hook early in the second period didn’t do much to boost BU’s confidence, but the Terriers looked like a team ready and willing to accept their fate with little resistance.
(Honorable mention – Notre Dame, Amherst)

Noteworthy Hockey East awards
CJ Smith was named Co-Player of the Week
Kevin Boyle was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week

Weekend results (Home team bolded)
Friday, March 11
Providence 3, Merrimack 1
Boston College 3, Vermont 0
Lowell 3, Boston University 2
Northeastern 3, Notre Dame 1

Saturday, March 12
Lowell 5, Boston University 0
Providence 2, Merrimack 0
Vermont 4, Boston College 2
Northeastern 6, Notre Dame 4

Sunday, March 13
Boston College 4, Vermont 3 (OT)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2016 4:52 pm

    Glad to have you back!

  2. March 15, 2016 8:51 pm

    Love the West Wing reference in the title. However, Providence didn’t make it to the Garden last year until the Frozen Four.

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