Maine will return home to the Alfond as they host the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks on Sunday.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but due to the playoff game for the Maine Black Bears football team that was scheduled for Saturday at 2 pm, Maine found it best to move it to another day. That day became Sunday, oddly enough the last time Lowell and Maine played in Orono was on Super Bowl Sunday.
Maine’s woes on the road continues as they were swept in a non-conference series against Vermont over Thanksgiving break as they lost 3-2 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday. Devin Shore and Steven Swavely were the lone goal scorers for Maine’s four goals, each contributing two. Maine’s problem on night one wasn’t finishing strong as Vermont’s Chris Muscoby tallied the game-winner with 2:49 left in the game. On night two Maine started strong, but once the third came around they fell flat on their faces as they allowed four third period goals (granted two were empty-netters, but still). One thing that killed Maine on Saturday was that they rang the goal posts three times (margin of the score) in the game. Coach Red Gendron said after Saturday’s loss, “We weren’t bad but we didn’t do what we needed to do, man-for-man, to win … Winning on the road is hard. Everybody has to be razor-sharp. Everybody has to play well. You can’t have anybody taking the night off.”
Maine lacked that effort we saw against BU and BC, but there’s one thing too that, those games were at home. Maine is 0-5-1 on the road this season and 6-1-0 at home. Coach Gendron told the BDN on Monday, “In our six road games, we were in position to win five of them in the third period … We aren’t far off. We have to do more little things perfectly.” Winning on the road will come, but the problem is when, I jokingly remarked on WMEB’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct Tuesday that Maine focused so hard on winning at home, they forgot how to win on the road.
But eventually Maine is bound to win one on the road, though it won’t be easy. They remaining road games include games at the Florida College Classic, Quinnipiac, BU (technically neutral, but it’s in Boston), Lowell, BC, Notre Dame, and Northeastern, all great teams in Hockey East so Maine will have it rough down the road.
Devin Shore’s two goals keeps him as the leading scorer on the team as he’s racked up a 6-6-12 stats through 13 games, he’s tied with Ben Hutton for leading goal scorer. Between the pipes Marty didn’t play bad, he stopped 48 of 54 shots. Gendron if anything was critical of his defense for not helping Marty too much as they were out of position when Maine gave up the game-winner on Friday and Saturday night. But I expect Gendron to busted some keisters in practice this week.
Now we turn to the Lowell Riverhawks, a team that has had some rest as they didn’t play over Thanksgiving break, but they did play on Tuesday, in which they destroyed American International 6-1. Sophomore Adam Chapie is the leading scorer for the Riverhawks with a 7-4-11 stat line. He’s followed behind by seniors Derek Arnold (6-4-10) and Joseph Pendenza (5-5-10). The goaltenders for the Riverhawks have been Connor Hellebuyck and Doug Carr. Both goaltenders have been phenomenal with both boasting a GAA that is less than 2.00. Hellebuyck has seen more games as he’s played in 9 of the 15 games so far this season, but definitely Coach Norm Bazin looks like he could go to either goaltender and be confident in his choice. Though from what I’ve heard, I’m expecting Hellebuyck in net for the Riverhawks.
The #7 Lowell Riverhawks (11-4-0 overall, 4-1-0 conference) have been on a roll as of late, winning their last 6 straight games including a sweep of Notre Dame two weeks ago. Their season also includes victories over Michigan St and Michigan in the Big Ten/Hockey East challenge back in October, and a sweep of UNH. This is one of the toughest teams, at the time that will come to Maine, though BC came in undefeated in their last 7 games, but Lowell has been a more difficult team for Maine over the last few years.
Last year’s season series saw Lowell winning 3-2-0 over three different weekends. First back in November 2012 Maine and Lowell split the series at Lowell. Then on Super Bowl Sunday Maine defeated Lowell in OT to win their first game at home that season. Lastly in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, they met in Lowell with the Riverhawks sweeping the Black Bears out of the playoffs in a heartbreaker for the Black Bears.
This series has been contentious in recent seasons with Lowell having the upper hand in recent years. But it remains to be seen what will happen Sunday afternoon, the team that’s streaking versus the team that is almost perfect at home, it’s a great matchup for the fans.
In terms of a prediction I’m giving it a low score, both goalies (Ouellette and Hellebuyck) are fantastic and will be the difference in this contest. It’s a big staring contest and the question becomes, who’s going to blink first? I think Marty will blink, 2-1 Lowell is my prediction.
Check back in to the UMaine Hockey Beat next week when I’ll have the concluding parts of my Reader’s Guide to Maine Hockey on Monday and Wednesday, I’ll also have a recap of this game and a preview of American International. Feel free to comment, tweet, or email anything.
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