Saturday, January 29, 2005

"High Times" in Lowell Taking New Meaning

Strange things are happening in a place that is world-famous for its crime, poverty, and misery. Lowell, Mass is a place where collar-ups like your superiors lock their doors when they drive through this bombed-out Hooverville. It's a place where a flat tire or an empty gas tank is the first step in the course of events that will ultimately allow you to meet your maker.

As the annual January cold rips through Lowell, a bit of warmth is keeping the downtrodden happy while they await their next welfare check, UMass-Lowell hockey. All throughout the city, the hobos huddled around trash barrel fires are wearing UML Riverhawk caps and are washing windshields not with discarded newspapers, but with UML game programs. There is a pride in Lowell these days not seen in these parts since the days when the Mills were actually giving normal people reason to live there.

After the Riverhawks dismantled the University of New Hampshire Wildcats 7-0 last night at Tsongas Arena, UML ran their unbeaten streak to 13 (11-0-2). Granted, most of the Riverhawks' wins in their streak were against teams such as Bentley, Niagara, Andover School of Trucking, and the victory over UNH was their first over a team that doesn't use "double runners". Regardless, Lowell is close to matching their record of 14 games without a loss dating back to 1980 when they were still the Chiefs and local street dealers were still years away from hearing the phrases "crack" or "oxycontin".

It's a wonderful time to be in Lowell as the Riverhawks streak has brought happiness to everyone in the city. Robbers in the city's liquor stores are saying "Give me all the money in the register, please", and street thugs are saying "thank you" to women after they steal their purses. Drug dealers, after selling their goods to 12 year-old kids, are giving instructions on how much to take and how to avoid overdose, and the city's prostitutes are offering a "100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back".

The Riverhawks, currently own an impressive 15-5-3 record and are ranked #13 in the country. Most Lowell fans will admit that this team is not a threat to do much damage in the postseason, but they believe in the skills of their top player, Ben Walter, and their 5'5" coach Blaise McDonald who proudly sings his 'oompa loompa' song as his team racks up another win.

McDonald, who will replace BU head nutjob Jack Parker when he retires, is the head man of a team that is rolling towards the postseason and their annual armageddon in the Hockey East semifinals at the FleetCenter. Despite the future doom that will ultimately undo this Riverhawk machine, visitors to the city of Lowell are appreciating the warm spirit from a community that prefers malt liquor to Pinot Grigio and only rides horses after they've stolen them.

Collar Up.

- DW


36 Comments:

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