Thursday, March 10, 2016

Looking At Lowell

I can't remember a more anticipated and compelling Hockey East Quarterfinal matchup involving BU in recent years. BU has hosted the Quarterfinals at Agganis every year since 2004, with exception of 2014, when they didn't even make it to that stage of the tournament. 
From The Vault
Lowell's Tyler Mueller crashes into the end boards in a game
earlier this year.
(PHoto by Matt Dresens)
Every series at the Greek saw BU favored and playing in front of practically a rink full of empty seats. Even though seven (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) of these series went to a decisive game three, BU only lost one series. That was in 2011 to Northeastern. The 2012 paring with New Hampshire is really they last series I was genuinely excited about and the series did not disappoint. Games one and three went to double overtime and Alex Chiasson won game three in 5-4 OT after BU was down 4-1 at one point.  

That all being said, there was really no hype going into any of those series. Yes, of course each series has it's own story lines, but nothing like this year. BU and Lowell are about as evenly matched as two teams can be. This was a series that could been seen down the pike for some time. It was only a matter of where it was going to be played. 

Whoever was going to finish fifth in the league was going to play UMass and presumably dispatch them with little issue. Was the series a bit more competitive that BU was anticipating? Sure, but there was no way BU was losing that series to UMass. The final game of the regular season determined that BU was going to be the fifth seed and Lowell would be the four and with that, host the inevitable clash of the Terriers and River Hawks.

BU lost 1-0 to Notre Dame and Lowell rolled over Boston College, who had won the regular season crown the night before. 

The two teams split the season series that was played in mid February. BU won the first  game at home 2-1 in overtime on a Jordan Greenway power play goal. The next night, Lowell ran away with a 6-3 win, their first against BU since since January of 2014. Lowell is an impressive 12-2-3 on home ice this season. 

After the two met, Lowell narrowly escaped in a game with America International, before dumping UMass 4-2 in a non conference game and then split with BC. 

Scouting The River Hawks
Lowell has a cluster of players atop their scoring charts. CJ Smith leads the team with 33 points off 14 goals and 19 assists. Adam Chapie has the same goal total, but two fewer assists for 31 points and Joe Gambardella has 24 assists to go along with 6 goals for 30 points. After those three, there is a drop to AJ White with 22 points. Other players to watch include Michael Kapla, Even Campbell, Dylan Zink and Jake Kamrass. 

Keven Boyle has had a solid season between the pipes for the River Hawks. In 33 appearances, the senior and one time UMass Amherst goalie has a .932 save percentage. He has allowed 60 goals in 1952 minutes and has a 1.84 goals against average. 

BU and Lowell have a pretty deep history in the Hockey East Tournament. BU dropped the River Hawks 3-2 in the 1994 Championship Game. They met again in 1995 and 1997 in the semis. BU won  4-2 and 3-2 those respective years. In 2009, they once again met in the Hockey East title game and BU scrapped out a 1-0 win. Lowell flipped the script in the 2013 HE Final with their own 1-0 win. The two teams have only met once in the Quarterfinal and that was 2008. Second seeded BU took game one 5-3, before the 7th seeded River Hawks snagged game two 4-1. Lowell had a 2-0 lead in a decisive game three, only to see BU score four unanswered goals to advance to the Garden. 

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