From the home office in Wakefield, Massachusetts, here are the top 10 surprises in Hockey East this year.
(Full disclosure: the original post of this blog contained a different item for number six that was based on an incorrect statistic.)
10. Massachusetts freshman Michael Pereira leads the Minutemen in scoring.
Hey, we all knew there would be new names atop the UMass stat sheets after the departures of James Marcou, Casey Wellman, Justin Braun, Will Ortiz, and Matthew Irwin. Even so, you had to figure T.J. Syner would be the new top dog. Instead, Pereira has taken that title in the early going.
9. Massachusetts-Lowell’s Riley Wetmore leads his team in scoring with a 7-6-13 scoring line.
Wetmore totaled six goals and nine assists in all of last year, his freshman campaign. This season he got off to a good start and with three goals in his last three games, is keeping it going.
8. Boston University rose to number one in the country a month into the season.
I thought the Terriers would be good, but not as good as their record indicated prior to last weekend’s sweep at the hands of Boston College. A 6-0-2 start earned them the top billing as recently as Nov. 8 despite a very young team.
7. Spencer Abbott leads Maine scoring instead of Gustav Nyquist
Surprise number seven is no knock on Abbott; it’s a tribute to Nyquist’s offensive wizardry. Last year, Nyquist finished with 61 points to Abbott’s 28. This year, the positions are flip-flopped with Abbott leading, 21-17.
6. Massachusetts-Lowell simultaneously leads Hockey East with a 92.7 penalty kill percentage in conference games while also ranking last in team defense (3.75 goals against per game).
Where’s the logic in that? Doesn’t a strong PK and team defense go hand in hand? What’s the last team that has had these two statistics so out of whack?
Clearly, it’s time for coach Blaise MacDonald to skate only four players while at full strength.
5. New Hampshire goaltender Matt DiGirolamo has filled the hole left behind by Brian Foster more than ably, posting a .924 save percentage.
I admit it, when a goalie sits almost every game of his freshman and sophomore seasons, I become a skeptic. Even if he’s behind someone like Brian Foster, I assume that if he were really good, he’d have forced some partial rotation.
So much for that prejudicial idea. With a save percentage like that, the junior is making Wildcat fans smile.
4. Vermont has only a single win in its opening 12 games (and that win, ironically enough, came over Boston College).
Most observers had the Catamounts somewhere in the middle of the pack. But only one win in 12 games?
What’s going on there?
What isn’t going on is much offense. Wah Stacey leads the team with seven points.
3. Providence playing .500 hockey
After taking it on the chin the last couple years, the Friars are landing a few haymakers of their own. They’re at .500 overall and just a single game below that water mark within Hockey East.
Can you spell P-L-A-Y-O-F-F-S?
2. Boston College’s see-saw results
Coming into this year, you expected nine teams to have their ups and downs. Based on the supporting cast, however, the Eagles were not afforded that luxury.
So now we’re left scratching our heads when they split with Vermont, giving the Catamounts their only win of the season. The scratching stops when BC sweeps Maine and then again when it sweeps BU. But it returns anytime there’s a loss.
Yes, the expectations were that high for this team.
1. Northeastern goes 0-for-3 against Atlantic Hockey
I hate to end on a downer, but hearing those three scores caused the most number of jaws to drop.
And yet, the Huskies are 3-6-3, in seventh place and just two points out of sixth. All is not lost.