Tag Archives: Lowell

Hockey East Recap: 1/30

January 30, 2012


Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Those looking for clarity in the Hockey East playoff picture found everything but this weekend.  There were 4 series this weekend and all 4 ended in sweeps.

  • Northeastern took care of business and got all 4 points on the road against Vermont in a must win series.
  • Maine put themselves firmly into the title race by taking both games from BU at Agganis.  Not only did the Terriers lose both games, but they also suffered some big injuries that will test their depth in the coming weeks.
  • Elsewhere, BC got back to winning ways as they swept UNH in a home and home.
  • And finally, Lowell kept the pressure on the top of the league by sweeping UMass Amherst, giving them  a season sweep of their rivals.
  • Then on Sunday, Merrimack took care of PC at home to keep themselves in the race.

So now its the final stretch of the Hockey East race, but not much has been decided yet.  Here is a very in-depth mathematical breakdown of the Hockey East race.  That thread is constantly updated and probably one you want to keep an eye on.  But here is a simpler breakdown of the standings.

Title Contenders/Home Ice

Boston University: 25 Points; 8 games: @MC, UMA, @UML, UML, @UVM, @UVM, NU, @NU    (TB over BC)

Boston College: 25 Points; 7 games: @UVM, MC, @MC, @PC, PC, UVM, UVM     (TB over UML)

Maine: 24 Points; 7 games: @PC, @UML, UMA, UMA, @NU, @NU, UNH  (TB over BC, BU)

Merrimack: 23 points; 10 games: BU, @UMA, @UML, UNH, @BC, BC, UML, @UML, @UMA, UMA  (TB over ME)

Lowell: 22 points; 10 games: UVM, UVM, MC, ME, BU, @BU, @MC, MC, @PC, PC  (TB over UML)

A week ago everyone wanted to crown BU, but then Maine came in and reopened the argument.   These 5 are the only ones with a shot at the title and barring a miracle, the only 5 with a shot at home ice.   BC probably has the easiest schedule, but Merrimack and Lowell both have the benefit of having multiple games in hand on everyone else.   The BU/Lowell series in a couple weeks will be a big one.  As will the BC/Merrimack one.  Both of those series are 3 weeks from now.  We probably won’t know a ton until after that weekend.  Unless one of these teams really fall off, the battle for home ice is going to come right down to the wire.  This is Hockey East we are talking about so in all likelihood, the battle for the title and for home ice aren’t going to be decided until the final weekend.

The Final Three Spots

Providence: 17 points; 10 games: @UNH, UNH, ME, @UMA, @NU, @NU, BC, @BC, UML, @UML

Amherst: 14 points; 10 games: @NU, MC, @BU, PC, @ME, @ME, UNH, UNH, MC, @MC

Northeastern: 14 points; 8 games: UMA, @UNH, PC, PC, ME, ME, @BU, BU

New Hampshire: 13 points; 9 games: PC, @PC, NU, @MC, UVM, UVM, @UMA, @UMA, ME

4 teams for 3 spots.   PC and UMass have the advantage with the most games left to be played.   New Hampshire gets to face everyone they are chasing which means they basically control their own destiny.  And NU gets the benefit of having plenty of home games, though their schedule is a bit challenging.  The biggest thing to note is that none of the tiebreakers have been decided between these teams, so when they face it each other head to head, both valuable points and as well as the potentially crucial tiebreaker will be on the line.     Another interesting note is that they all play each other in the next couple weeks but finish with teams from the top half.   So there will most likely be a lot of scoreboard watching during that final weekend.  This weekend is huge as NU and Amherst faceoff in a game that could give Amherst the tiebreaker.  UNH/PC play a home and home and if PC can get 3 points, they will be very close to assuring themselves a playoff spot.



So Hockey East is a mess, just like always.  And every time it looks like the picture is clearing up, you can be sure someone is going to do something unexpected and make it even cloudier.   Its should be a great final month though.

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Final: Lowell 3, Huskies 2 (OT)

January 22, 2012


Northeastern losing streak is now at 4 games after they dropped one in overtime last night to Lowell.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Basics

  • The Huskies got goals from Braden Pimm and Garrett Vermeersch.
  • Vinny Saponari and Ludwig picked up the assists.
  • Chris Rawlings saved 22 out of 25 shots.
  • The Huskies outshot Lowell 31-25
  • NU was 0-2 on the PP. Lowell was also 1-5, but Northeastern manged to score a shorthanded goal.
What You Need to Know
  • Things are not looking good for the Huskies.  The Huskies played well enough to win but just couldn’t finish it and its becoming an all too frequent occurrence.
  • Northeastern was finally aggressive on the PK and it paid immediate dividends.  Braden Pimm stole the puck from the point man and raced in on a breakaway.  The puck went in after he crashed into Carr but after review the refs ruled he was forced into him and the goal counted.  The Huskies had another great chance shorthanded when they broke in on a 2 on 1, but play was halted for matching penalties behind the play.
  • Lowell’s first goal came on the Power Play when Scott Wilson was left wide open in the slot.  He didn’t hit the shot well, but Rawlings just missed it.   The aggressive PK is a new system, its going to take time to get good at it, these things will happen.  The soft goals cannot though.
  • Garrett Vermeersch continued to be a valuable asset to the Huskies.  He made smart passes all night and could have had a few assists if it weren’t for big saves by Doug Carr.  But Vermy managed to get himself on the scoresheet when he put home a Vinny Saponari rebound 30 seconds into the 2nd.
  • That goal gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead, but Lowell would tie it up just 3 minutes later.
  • The Huskies really carried play in the thid, but once agin got nothing to show for it.   They had 2 PP’s in the third nad failed on both of them. This is where the special teams kill them.   You cna have all the talent in the world, but if you dont finish your chances, it doesnt matter.
  • A bad bounce in overtime led to a chance for Derek Arnold and it pulled off the same amazing move he made the night before to beat Rawlings to extend Northeastern’s overtime woes.
And so it continues for the Huskies.  Thats now 6 one goal losses for the Huskies, with 3 coming in overtime.  Of course part of that is just bad luck, but its also starting to become an alarming trend.  Is it poor line management? Not the right attitude?  I am not sure, but besides the power play, this team’s biggest issue is finishing games.
There were a few positives from this game though.  The change of emphasis on the PK was an obvious success and with a little more practice time, it should lead to a big improvement.  Pimm and Vermeersch had good games.  I thought Drew Ellement had a nice game on defense.  He is quietly putting together a pretty good season.
No need to spend any more time discussing how bad the power play is.  Its awful and its starting to really hurt the team, thats obvious.
Justin Daniels being scratched was a bit surprising, but it made sense.  He just hasn’t looked up to it lately despite his hot start.  But the third line just wasn’t working.  McLaughlin and Vrolyk are both good penalty killers, but they don’t belong on a line together.  Joseph Manno needs to be playing on the third line every night.  He has some discipline problems, but he is clearly one of the most talented players on the team and he will probably be a top 6 forward next year.   He needs more ice time
Lowell has some impressive players.  Scott Wilson and Derek Arnold really impressed me this weekend.  Doug Carr was outstanding in net for them.  But, the refs last night did an awful job enforcing the change rules on Lowell.  They were called for one time for Too Many Men, but it could have been more.  There were several times where they had a guy jump on the ice in front of the play (usually a Northeastern player breaking through the neutral zone) to take the place of a trailing player who was 10 feet away from the bench.  But their biggest offense was on icings.  Since they weren’t allowed to change, they would just take forever to set up, complain about something, or try to change anyways to cause confusion about who was actually on the ice.  And the refs let it happen every time.  Refs have it tough and penalties are always going to be debatable, but stuff like changes should be cut and dry.  Stuff like this is easy to stop: drop the puck without them or give them a delay of game penalty.
Northeastern has 10 Hockey East games left.  They are 3 points out of the playoffs.  It is by no means an impossible scenario,  but it isnt an easy one.  The schedule is going to give NU every chance to do it, but they need to pick it up big time.  Taking one night off (like they did in Lowell in Friday) will probably be the difference between making it and not making it.  And missing the playoffs two out of three years with a team as talented as they are will be a major disappointment.   For the record, we think they will get in, but its an all too real possibility that they won’t after what happened this weekend.
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Preview: Huskies vs Lowell

January 21, 2012


The season series with Lowell is on the line for the Huskies tonight, but more importantly, the Huskies could be fighting for the playoff lives.

The 8 game win streak was great, but since almost all of the games were non-conference, the Huskies conference record is still awful thanks to a terrible start.   The teams around them keeping winning as the Huskies have gone 0 for 3 in the new year.

Tonight is a must win for the Huskies.   Another loss puts them in a deep hole with no much time to dig themselves out.   This team needs to find a way to get back to the way they played during the win streak.  That may require a shake up at the bottom of the lineup.  Rob Dongara won’t be playing tonight.  Thats a start.   I’d like to see them keep the first two lines as they have been, the third line should be Mann0-McLaughlin-Tuckerman and the fourth should be Reid-Daniels-Stone.  Stone and Manno need to be in the lineup.

Rawlings could maybe use a rest too.  The goals last night were not is fault, but he didn’t see, like his normal self.  Give him the night off, he deserves one.

I don’t know what to do about the special teams, but just change them any way you can.

Its not panic time yet, but if the Huskies can’t win tonight its officially time to worry about missing the playoffs for the second time in 3 years.

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Final: Lowell 4, Huskies 0

January 21, 2012


Northeastern lost to Lowell 4-0 last night, which makes it 3 straight losses for the Huskies.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Basics

  • For the first time all season, the Huskies were shutout.
  • Chris Rawlings saved 28 out of 32 shots.
  • The Huskies were outshot 32-28
  • NU was 0-5 on the PP. Lowell was also 0-5, but they picked up a shorthanded goal and a goal seconds after one of their PP’s had ended.
What You Need to Know
  • This one was ugly.
  • Northeastern started slow and it cost them when Lowell picked up an early goal.
  • After that NU managed a few chances, but couldn’t find the net.
  • The second period might have been one of the worst periods of the season.  Lowell completely dominated a Northeastern team that looked like they were asleep.  Lowell picked up 3 goals, including a shorthanded one.
  • The Huskies came out a bit tougher in third, but never really pushed Lowell.
  • Rawlings looked off all night.  He was moving and react very slow and just didn’t seem to be the same goalie we’ve seen recently.
Where to being with this brutal game?  Lets start with the special teams.
Technically the PK killed all 5 penalties last night, but Lowell scored their first goal just 5 seconds after a penalty had expired.   The Passive Box isn’t getting it done.  Its time to get aggressive and force teams into mistake rather than sitting around hoping they make one.
The real issue is of course the power play. 9/95 is disgusting.  9.5% is by far the lowest in Hockey East.  And with the Huskies giving up shorthanded goals in two consecutive games, they have now given up the 2nd most in the conference with 5.  The Power Play is so bad that it gets worse the bigger the advantage is.  Last night, the Huskies had a 5 on 3, and just like the one against BU last weekend, they passed and passed and passed and passed.  When they finally succeed in passing the puck into the net, I am sure it will look great.  But they failed yet again last night and when they eventually whiffed on a shot, Lowell ended up with a breakaway that would have been a goal had Ludwig Karlsson not dragged the guy down and took a penalty.  Its got to the point where I actually dread seeing a penalty on the other team because it just leads to embarrassment for NU.
Now onto the lineup:  Dongara, McLaughlin, and Vrolyk all bring something to the table.  But all 3 of them cannot be in the lineup at the same time.   That has been proven again and again this year.  Manno and Stone need to be in the lineup every night, if that means Dongara and Vrolyk have to take a seat, so be it.
With results around the conference going against Northeastern, their playoff chances are growing smaller every weekend.   Time is running out for the Huskies and performances like this one aren’t going to relieve any fears.
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Preview: Huskies at UMass Lowell

January 20, 2012


Northeastern rolls into Tsongas Arena tonight to take on the UMass Lowell River Hawks (12-6, 7 HE), hoping to get back on track after dropping consecutive contests by one goal each to #2 BU and #3 BC the weekend before. They played without two top line forwards in Braden Pimm and Cody Ferriero, who seemed to pick the perfect time to break team rules and miss a crucial weekend for a team fighting for both NCAA playoff berth and playoff home ice. But the club didn’t help itself very much either, with players making costly mistakes in their own zone and letting the game control them instead of the other way around. The Northeastern team I saw on that big win streak was one that was aware of their talent and used that knowledge to take some good risks, both calculated and impulsively.

The Huskies playing tonight in Lowell need to have this mentality. Lowell just so happens to be a team playing consistently and confidently, and unlike the Huskies, they’ve done this all year.  They are ranked 14th in the country and more importantly 11th in the pairwise (Northeastern is 22nd). The teams success starts and ends with its goaltender, sophomore Doug Carr, who is enjoying one heck of a season (.928 sv pct, 1.97 GAA). Carr will square off with Chris Rawlings tonight, a match up that sees two of Hockey East’s (And the NCAA’s) top tier goaltenders with near identical save percentages. Carr is a tough customer who relies on his solid mechanics and calculated play. Lets just say if Lowell loses, it won’t be his fault. The River Hawks also boast some good scoring depth, with upperclassmen David Vallorani and Matt Ferreira leading the way with 18 points and Sophomore D Chad Ruhwedel and Freshman winger Scott Wilson providing valuable secondary scoring with 16 points. As effective as this UMass assault has been, it should find trouble again. In Northeastern’s last meeting with UML, the Huskies prevailed by taking better chances and forcing the River Hawks to take low percentage ones, and in turn Lowell was forced to take drastic measures nearing the end of the game.

Tonight NU will look to regain their moxie and play the same style that allowed them to beat the best of the best out of conference not so long ago. This team has the talent to beat top programs, and its seasons comes to a crossroads  this weekend. Don’t be fooled, NU has shown their best is better than Lowell, its only a mater if the best shows up. They can jump as much as five spots in the HE standings if they can perform to their abilities and quell a River Hawks squad they’ve beaten in their last five meetings. Based on this very performance, the previous weekend can either be a sign of things to come, or a slight bump in the road during a successful season. See you at Tsongas.

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Hockey East Holiday Plans

December 28, 2011


The second half begins tomorrow for Hockey East with some big non-conference games for some and tournaments for others.   Many of these games will have big Pairwise implications down the road, so Hockey East will need some wins if they want to get 3-4 teams into the NCAA’s.

Boston College: The Eagles head out to Detroit for the Great Lakes Invitational.  They open up Thursday against Michigan.  The Wolverines are somehow ranked #20 despite being just 9-8-1.   The Eagles will then play either Michigan Tech or Michigan State in their final game.   All 4 teams in this tournament are TUC’s as of right now.  So this might be one of the bigger chances for Hockey East to gain, but it wont be easy.   The last time the non-Michigan Invitee won the tournament was when Colorado College did in 2005.  The last time BC played in this tournament, they won it back in 2003.   BC will be missing Bill Arnold, who is at the WJC’s, but Patrick Wey could be making his return from a foot injury that has kept him out since October.

Boston University:  BU has gone over a week without losing a player, so they are feeling good.  No Holiday Tournament for them this year, but they do have a marquee game.  The Terriers head to South Bend for a nationally televised game on New Year’s Eve against Notre Dame.  Its battle of 4th vs 5th in the Pairwise and all eyes will be on BU to see how they respond after a tumultuous break.  In addition to the two departures, they will also be without Adam Clendening, who is at WJC’s.

Maine and UMass Amherst: Hockey East sends two teams down to Florida this year for the Florida College Hockey Classic.  The tournament, which is hosted annually by Maine and Cornell, has been around since 2000.  Maine has won it 4 times in 11 chances, with the last victory coming in 2009.  This year they open up with an ECAC opponent, Clarkson.  UMass returns to this tournament for the second time.  In 2002, they lost in the final to Maine.   They open with a big matchup against Cornell.  UMass has already taken down a big ECAC team in Yale this season, a win over Cornell would be huge for the Minutemen and Hockey East.

Lowell: Lowell is easily in the worst Holiday Tournament of all time.  Lowell opens up the tournament with Rensselaer (ranked 54 out 58 in RPI).  Their second game will be against either Army (55) or UConn (52).  Lowell will be hoping to avenge an early season loss to UConn which left everyone confused.   If Lowell does not win this tournament, that is very very bad for them.

Merrimack: Not to be outdone, Merrimack found their own awful Holiday Tournament.  The Warriors head up to New Hampshire for the Ledyard National Bank Classic.  The Classic has had some memorable moments in the last 3 years.  Who could forget BC taking down Mercyhurst for the title in 2010, Northeastern overcoming Lowell in 2009, or Dartmouth pulling it out over Bemijdi State in 2008.   This year should be no different.  Merrimack opens up with St. Lawrence.  Then they will either get the host, Dartmouth, or Holy Cross. You don’t want to miss this one.

New Hampshire and Providence: These two join BU in skipping the Holiday Tournament scene this winter.  They both have just one game against Brown before they get back into their Hockey East schedule.  For PC, its the battle for the Mayor’s Cup.  PC had won three straight before the teams tied last season.

Northeastern: The Huskies, like seemingly every Hockey East team, open up their tournament with a rather weak ECAC team.  For NU, that team will be Princeton in the Mariucci Classic.  Should the Huskies take care of business they will meet Minnesota in the finals (or possibly Niagara).  Minnesota is ranked 2nd in the country but their two best players are away with the WJC team, so it is not a given they win the tournament, despite having home ice advantage.

Vermont: The Catamounts stay home and host some western opponents in the Catamount Cup.   Vermont, who is facing a bit of an injury crisis, has games against Lake Superior State and Ferris State.  Both teams are in the Top 15 of the RPI.  Vermont is 50th in the RPI and an addition to the injury problems, they are missing Conor Brickley who is with the WJC team.

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Hockey East at the Break

December 16, 2011


With the first half of the season in the books, we can see how the Hockey East picture is developing.  As usual, the top of the conference is well represented on the national scale.  And they are already breaking away from the bottom half.  Some teams look ready for a big second half, while a few others could be in for a long year.  Here is a recap of the first half and an outlook on the second half for the entire conference.  We will have more on Northeastern specifically next week.

Boston College: 9-4-0, 18 Points, 14 games left

BC sits in 1st after a typical BC first half. Losses to Lowell and UMass Amherst raised some eyebrows, but the biggest surprise of the season so far for them was dropping 2 out of 3 to BU.  Defenseman Patrick Wey’s return form injury should help the Eagles, as will freshman Brian Billet’s play in net.  They have some big games left: 3 with Merrimack, Frozen Fenway and the Beanpot, but for the most part there schedule is pretty easy: 3 with Vermont, 2 with PC, UNH, and Maine.

Prediction: The Eagles do what they always do and go on a tear in the second half that takes them deep into the NCAA’s.

Boston University Terriers: 8-4-1, 17 points, 14 games left

The Terriers had to feel good about themselves going into the break.  They had overcome some early season inconsistency to turn things around and be in really good position.  1 day into that break things began to unravel and the drama hasn’t stopped all week.  Corey Trivino, Hockey East’s leading scorer is gone.  Charlie Coyle is gone.  And now their are reports some of the players are unhappy with Parker’s handling of things.  Their USCHO thread is both hilarious and just downright sad.  It is a rough time to be a Fanboy.  The players could rally around this and put together a good second half, but an outright collapse is much more likely.

Prediction: We haven’t seen the last midseason exit on Comm Ave this season.

Merrimack College Warriors: 7-2-1, 15 points, 17 games remaining

Merrimack took advantage of an easy schedule in the 1st half and earned the #1 ranking in the country for the first time in school history.  They have struggled a bit heading into the break, but with 3 games in hand on the teams ahead of them, they have to like their chances at a league title.  The Warriors have allowed the fewest goals in the conference, but they have also scored the second fewest.  Joe Canatta is the only reason they are where they are and he has been amazing this season.  Merrimack has yet to play BC, UNH, Lowell, and UMass Amherst so far.  And they still have 2 games against BU and Maine.

Prediction: The Warriors cool down a bit in the second half and get upset in the 1st round of the Hockey East playoffs.

UMass Lowell River Hawks: 7-4-0, 14 points, 16 games remaining

First year coach Norm Bazin has really turned this team around.  After missing the playoff last year, the River Hawks have already surpassed last season’s point toal thanks to some talented freshman and great play in net from sophomore Doug Carr.  Lowell seems like a good bet for home ice, which no one would have said preseason.  They have wins against BC and BU already, but they still have all 3 games to play against Merrimack.  This team culd very easily be making its first appearance at the Garden since 08/09.

Prediction:  Lowell continues to play well, but ends up on the wrong side of the bubble come tournament time.

Providence Friars: 6-4-0, 12 points, 17 games remaining

Another first year coach who has found success.  The Friars got off to a great start, but looked to be slowing down a bit.   They then proceeded to sweep Merrimack and put themselves firmly in the race for home ice.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 07/08.  They haven’t had a winning record since 05/06.  So whether they get home ice or not, this will probably be a good season for them.

Prediction: PC makes the playoffs for the first time since 07/08, and then gets sewpt just like they did in 07/08.

Maine Black Bears: 5-6-1, 11 points, 15 games remaining

The days of Maine being a national power are long gone.  But this season has them headed for a new low.  They don’t have much on defense or in net and they don’t score enough to make up for that. Its no longer impossible to win away at Alfond.  There has been a demonstration and a petition in an effort to get Tim Whitehead to step down from the head coaching position.  If it werent for a sweep of Vermont, things might look even worse up in Orono.  Either way its going to be a very long second half for them.

Prediction: Maine misses the playoffs, the state of Maine goes beserk and Whitehead is fired.

Northeastern Huskies: 4-7-2, 10 points, 14 games remaining

Jim Madigan’s return to coaching couldn’t have got off to  a worst start.  But since starting 1-7-2, the Huskies have ripped off 6 straight wins.  Unfortunately 3 of those were nonconference, so the Huskies have some work to do in conference.   3 games against BU, and 2 against Maine, Vermont and PC should help with that though.  They have been playing really well lately, but their poor start has given them almost no margin for error going forward.

Prediction: Northeastern wins the Beanpot.  The Huskies manage to grab home ice…barely.

New Hampshire Wildcats: 4-7-1, 9 points, 15 games remaining

The Wildcats have been awful this season.  And they just lost one of their big recruits for next season.  The last time UNH didn’t get home ice was 1996.  That streak is a good as gone.  Their main concern is just making the playoffs at this point.  With 2 games against Maine, Vermont, UMass Amherst, plus 3 with PC, they will get every chance to save themselves.

Prediction: UNH turns it on late and surprise everybody be making it to the Garden.

UMass Amherst Minuteman: 2-6-3, 7 points, 16 games remaining

The Minuteman picked up right where they left off last year: sucking.  But as they head into break, there is a bit more hope for them.  There have been some positive signs as of late and their schedule gives them the chance to pick up some spots in the standings: 2 with Maine, UNH, PC, Vermont.  Goalie and defense have been issues at times, but they do have some talent.  They made it into the playoffs last year and they will be hoping to again this year.

Prediction: Just like last year, UMass Amherst sneaks into the playoffs and then gets booted real quick.

Vermont Catamounts: 1-9-2, 3 points, 15 games remaining

The Catamounts are running away with last place.  They can’t do much of anything and there isn’t any chance of a turnaround up there.

Prediction: UVM finishes in the single digit in terms of points and Kevin Sneddon is fired.

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