Monday, February 25, 2013

Previewing the UMass Lowell River Hawks

After one of their biggest wins of the season @ Merrimack, the Boston College Eagles, now ranked #4 in the pairwise rankings, will face off against another red hot opponent. This time it will be the River Hawks of Lowell, a team that comes into this game winners of 4 straight games overall. This Hawks team is coming off a weekend sweep of Boston University (!) and they currently rank 11th in the pairwise standings. They continue to hold onto the final Hockey East home ice spot with 26 points so far this season (two behind league leaders BC, PC, and UNH). Let's first get this out of the way. The River Hawks are a very good hockey team and they're playing as well as anybody in the country right now. They have one of the deepest forward lineups in Hockey East, headed by Scott Wilson, Reilly Wetmore, Derek Arnold, and Joe Pendenza, who is their leading scorer with 28 points this season (12 G, 18 A.)  BC and Lowell have already played twice this season. The defending National Champs swept Lowell back in October, by scores of 1-0 and 6-3, respectively.

The biggest thing that has changed between then and now for Lowell is freshman Connor Hellebuyck who has taken over the starting job in net, defeating last year's playoff hero, Doug Carr. In fact, Hellebuyck has not lost a game since 11/30 @ New Hampshire. This weekend, he stopped 39 of 40 BU shots, with Friday being a 3-0 shutout win for Hellebuyck and the River Hawks. When I look at this Lowell team, I see a squad that has a really deep group of forwards (as mentioned above), a defensive corps that ranks up with the best in Hockey East, led by Jr Chad Ruwhedel and So Jake Suter. The River Hawks are currently third in the league in goals given up per game (2.34) and are also third in goals scored per game (3.07) Lowell is as complete a team as BC will see all season long. They can score, they can defend, they are solid both on the PK and the PP, and they continue to get great goaltending night in and night out. This all makes for a pretty lethal combination.

When I take a look at this matchup, I see two teams that are very even. I mean they're two of the best teams not just in Hockey East but in the whole country. I look for tomorrow to be a tough, up tempo style game with more goals scored than you saw in BC vs Merrimack. Lowell plays a style  similar to Boston College. They skate well north-south and they can create something out of nothing, much like BC can. This isn't going to be a game like Sunday's where we had a whistle every 15 seconds with a ton of dumping and changing. I expect to see a really entertaining style of hockey between two very good hockey teams come 7 O'clock tomorrow night.

Keys for the Eagles-

1. Staying out of the box. I might as well copy and paste this to every preview. The only two goal's given up vs Merrimack the past two weeks were power play goals. Can't be giving teams 5 on 3s for over a minute late in the third period, such as BC did Sunday.

2. Containing Lowell's big guns. This is something BU did just a horrible job of this weekend. Wilson and Pendenza lit O'Connor and Maguire up like Christmas trees on Friday and Saturday. Obviously, they're facing a different beast this time around with BC's two big lines.

3. I'd like to see BC open things up and get some more offensive chances tomorrow night. It was hard for the Eagles to get things rolling until the midway point last night. I'd like to see them get going and generating chances right from the get-go.

Scouting Lowell-

Pairwise Rank- 11th

Hockey East rank- 4th

Season series vs BC- 0-2

Leading Scorer- Joe Pendenza-28 points

Best wins- vs Providence @ Colorado College

Worst Loss- None really. Lost 2 vs Maine.

Go Eagles !

No comments:

Post a Comment