Lowell River Hawks 14-9-2 (8-8-2) Hockey East 18pts 6th
Massachusetts Minutemen 10-13-2 (7-10-1) Hockey East 15pts 7th
These two teams met back before Thanksgiving, two teams that appeared to be going in two different directions. Massachusetts had a tough schedule to start the season and were just 1-3-0 in their first four games. But from there they appeared to be righting the ship by going 2-1-1 in their next four with the only loss being a close defeat at the hands of Boston College. Lowell surprised many by getting off to an awful start to the season despite returning nearly everyone from last year’s NCAA team and went into their match with UMass just 2-5-1. UMass was looking to establish some consistent winning while Lowell was hoping to turn things around. In the end it was a statement game for the River Hawks as they embarrassed the Minutemen in their home arena by the score of 8-2. Starting with that game Lowell has had a 12-4-1 record and are battling for an NCAA spot. The Minutemen meanwhile have not been able to put together any kind of streak of success and are battling just to maintain their spot in the Hockey East playoffs.
There’s not much to break down from that earlier game except to say that UMass frankly looked like they wanted to be anywhere but in the Mullins Center playing hockey. It was the most uninspiring hockey I’ve seen from this program in years. Year. UMass stood and watched as Riley Wetmore scored a hat trick on them, Joseph Pendenza had a couple goals and an assist, and Scott Wilson gathered four points. Those three have been the offensive stars for Lowell this season as they are top three in terms of goals for the team. Still, it’s not just them thatopposing teams have to look out for as nine total players have five or more goals this season. The Hawks find themselves fourth among league teams in offense, scoring 2.96 goals per game, while their power play is also fourth, converting 17.2% of the time.
Lowell had a goaltender controversy during the middle part of the season when Doug Carr and freshman Connor Hellebuyck started trading starts with the younger netminder winning six straight and puting up the better stats. But Hellebuyck was injured in mid-January and it’s allowed Carr to regain the starter spot. He and the Hawks come into the weekend losing two straight, but one of those was by a score of 1-0 so it was of no fault to Carr. Carr has a goals against average of 2.79 versus Hellebuyck’s 1.54.
Massachusetts has a lot to motivate them this coming weekend. First they’ve yet to prove that they can win consistently this season and that’s something they’ll have to do sooner rather than later if they have any kind of post-season plans. They have Maine and Vermont on their heels when it comes to the Hockey East standings and the prospect of missing the playoffs entirely for the first time since 2002 is not out of the equation. This past Sunday’s game was incredibly disappointing given the anemic offense and mistake-prone defense, I would think the team wants to improve upon that showing. But the biggest motivation for this series should come from that game in November where the team played absolutely horribly. It was easily one of the worst performances from this team in many seasons. For the fans that loss is still one that gnaws at them and I hope the same goes for the players. It’ll take at least a couple decent performances in a row until that game is totally forgotten.
Beer The Triangle
I cant’ guarantee a trip to Lowell and Lowell Beer Works so it’ll it least be the usual of a Hangar trip pregame and ABC after, where I recommend the Allagash Yakuza. First had last year on a trip to Orono.
Like the preview above, Harry Plumer’s preview in the Republican is also all about motivation.