If ties truly are like kissing your sister, Hockey East is one very disturbed family.
Other than at the very top (Boston College), middle (Merrimack) and bottom (Providence College), every league team engaged in sister-kissing last weekend with Lowell double-dipping. (Thank me for avoiding the temptation to torture the metaphor further in the case of the River Hawks.)
Maine got the act rolling on Thursday in frustrating fashion, letting a 4-2 third-period lead and a five-minute major power play slip through its hands. You never like to settle for a tie in that situation, especially when it’s a shorthanded goal that achieves the tie.
The trend held up on Friday and Saturday. Nonconference ties included Lowell – Niagara, Northeastern – Rensselaer, Lowell- RIT, and Michigan – UNH. Inside Hockey East, Massachusetts came back from a two-goal road deficit to salvage a point against Boston University.
If the games had all been within the league, we’d chalk it up to Hockey East’s parity. (To those from other leagues who’d argue otherwise, check out Northeastern last year. Four points out of playoff home ice but a point out of the playoffs.) One could certainly make a case that the huge roster turnover for both UMass and BU this season was bound to create October and November parity. March will quite likely be a different story.
The nonconference ties, however, are of greater concern. Hockey East stands a game under .500 against the other leagues, including an eye-opening 1-0-4 against Atlantic Hockey. This is no knock against the AHA. It’s a great thing for college hockey.
But if Hockey East is going to beat its chest about what a tough league it is and more importantly, if it’s going to position itself well for extra berths in the NCAA tournament, then it’s got to do better than tying four-of-five games against that fledgling conference.
Parity within Hockey East is one thing. Parity with Atlantic Hockey is another.