It was a weekend (well, week for some) of highs and lows for Hockey East teams with a few surprise outcomes along the way.
We’ll start out with a mention of the most surprising results, in this author’s mind, of the weekend and that’s Boston College’s dominating sweep of Boston University. With BU giving a no-show effort on Friday, the 9-5 outcome might now have been too shocking against a good BC team. The game, though, was pretty strange. Big time BC lead (6-1 through 2) followed by BU trying to rally in the third, capped off by the rare penalty shot goal to close the scoring. In between insert 23 power plays combined, goals allowed via video review, goals disallowed via video review. By the time the 2 hour, 50 minute debacle was over, most people leaving Agganis Arena didn’t know what they had just seen.
Saturday’s rematch was a better game to watch, but it was clear that the Eagles are at the top of their game and BU is not. I’ve read a lot of notes of fans saying that BU’s schedule wasn’t tough to this point and this weekend proved they were over-rated. I believe the Terriers at No. 2 might have been higher than deserved, but this is still a team with top 10 potential. Wednesday night against a Northeastern team that is playing well should be an interesting game.
Speaking of Northeastern, they were able to quell the Merrimack offense this weekend, allowing just three goals to a team that, at time this season, has looked potent. Unfortunately, the Huskies offense couldn’t muster more than three goals themselves and thus had to settle for a split comprised of a pair of 2-1 games. What was impressive was Northeastern’s ability to win on Saturday night after Friday’s loss. It not only showed the resiliency of the Huskies, but it allows NU to say they’ve done something no other team has done this season, namely beat Merrimack at home.
Resilient provides another good segue to talk about Providence, at least on Friday night. The Friars, who have played well at home this season, trailed Maine, 3-2, late in the series opener. And things looked ominous when Maine went on the power play when Derek Army went off for cross checking with 4:57 remaining. But seven seconds after the penalty was whistled, Chris Rooney scored his third goal of the season, shorthanded, to earn the Friars a point.
Unfortunately, that that likely felt more like a loss may have awoken Maine, which responded with a 5-0 victory on Saturday. In that game, Maine rookie goaltender Martin Ouelette, making just his second career start, posted a 32-save shutout. The weekend was a good bounceback for Maine, which had Thanksgiving week off but previously was swept by BC being outscored, 8-1, over the two games.
New Hampshire seemingly has its foot firmly planted on the gas pedal heading towards the holiday break. The Wildcats handled Massachusetts-Lowell, 3-0, on Thursday before following up with a dominating performance against Vermont on Sunday, winning 5-1. In Sunday’s contest, UNH’s top line of Paul Thompson-Phil DeSimone-Mike Sislo absolutely owned the ice. The trio factored into all five Wildcat goals with Thompson picking up a hat trick and Sislo registering a career-high five assists. Right now, there may not be a more dominating line in the league. The three rank first, second and third in Hockey East in points per game and have accounted for almost half of New Hampshire goals.
Lastly, there is resurgence out in Amherst as Massachusetts has followed a winless stretch of nine games to start the season with three straight wins. Saturday, the Minutemen beat sister school and rival Massachusetts-Lowell, 5-2, breaking a 2-2 deadlock with three third period goals to cruise to a 5-2 victory. The UMass offense has finally come alive, scoring 14 goals in the three victories. The three home victories pull UMass above .500 at home, sitting at 3-2-1.
At the same time, UMass-Lowell has hit the skids. The River Hawks are 2-12-2, but more importantly have posted just four points in league play despite playing 12 games, the second most of any Hockey East team at this point (Boston College, 13). Eight of the River Hawks next 11 games are on the road, beginning this weekend with two non-league games at Princeton.