It certainly was an interesting weekend to look back on in Hockey East. A busy league slate was highlighted by a clash of what most believe will be two of the league’s powerhouses come March – Maine and Boston University. The single game on Saturday night was a barnburner for 60 minutes and beyond and USCHO.com’s Scott Weighart described the game as have the “feel of a playoff game in March.”
The 2-2 deadlock at the end may have been the most fitting outcome given the back-and-forth nature of the game, though it took a Charlie Coyle goal late in the third to earn the tie for the Terriers. The tie keeps the Terriers as one of only two unbeaten teams in the country at 6-0-2 (Yale is currently 4-0-0) and could possibly launch them to the top spot in the USCHO.com poll when it is released this afternoon.
The BU/Maine tilt was hardly the only game of note on the weekend. New Hampshire proved to many they belong among the league’s elite by knocking off a Boston College team that a few weeks ago I was ready to crown national champions once again. The Eagles mustered just a single goal, though, a fell 2-1, their third loss in five games, dropping them to a pedestrian 5-3-0 on the season.
Providence, which my colleague Dave Hendrickson recently praised, continued to play well, posting a 2-0 victory over Merrimack and rallying for a 3-3 tie with Vermont. Suddenly the Friars, with a 3-2-2 league mark, sit in second place, though have played the second most games (seven) of any league team. Still, points are points in the standings and come season’s end it will be interesting to see if the Friars can remain consistent enough to fight for a home ice spot.
One thing to note about Providence’s starts is the fact the Friars are now 3-0-1 at home. There hasn’t been much home ice advantage down at Schneider Arena in years past. But if this team can turn things around and make that building a difficult one in which to play, that certainly will have positive impact.
All the way at the other end of the spectrum are Vermont and UMass, two teams that to this point still have yet to find a victory. Add to that a sorry start for Northeastern, which lost its third straight home game against an Atlantic Hockey opponent on Friday night falling to Niagara, and you have one sorry trio. Vermont twice blew third period leads this weekend, losing to Lowell 3-1 after leading 1-0 through two and then tying Providence 3-3 by blowing a 3-1 lead in the final twenty. It’s far too early in the season to press a panic button, but all three of these teams will need to turn things around quickly or they will be fighting it out for the final playoff spot come March.