Or at least I think so.
3. The bloom is off the rose for Merrimack.
Just a few short weeks ago, the Warriors were the number one team in the country, the last to have their record still unsullied by a loss.
I suspect that of those who sang the praises of this team — and I’d consider myself to have been a pretty loud tenor in that chorus — very few thought it would remain number one. The Warriors were very good, but not that good.
So we enjoyed it while it lasted.
Now it’s over.
Since that top ranking, Merrimack has lost three of its last five games, going 1-3-1. In that stretch, the Warriors have been held to just one goal in all but the win over last-place Vermont.
Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy told USCHO’s Jim Connelly, “It’s the ebb and flow of the season.”
Well, yes to at least some extent. The Warriors aren’t as good as they looked while going undefeated and rising in the rankings; they aren’t as bad as they’ve looked over the last five games, falling in the rankings.
The question will be exactly where in the middle of those two extremes this exciting team finishes.
2. Boston University has taken a broadside without playing a single game.
The Terriers looked to be heading into the holiday break on a perfect note, picking up four points in wins over New Hampshire and Maine, giving them seven wins in their last eight games. The four-point week put them within a point of first place.
Since then, however, Corey Trivino has been arrested and permanently bounced from the team. His 13 goals and 17 points led the team.
Following that stunner, Charlie Coyle, last year’s Hockey East Rookie of the Year, left to play major junior hockey.
The Terriers should still be a very good hockey team, but those are two major holes to fill mid-season. We’ll have to see if this drops them into that “good but not great” category. And if it temporarily does, will they recover to again be a force by the postseason?
1. Hockey East might post a losing record against the ECAC.
While Hockey East’s nonconference success against the CCHA and WCHA has fluctuated up and down — last year was a down year in which the good guys won barely more than a third of the time — Hockey East has dominated the ECAC. Over the last 19 years, Hockey East has posted a winning record against its Eastern brethren every year except 1996-97.
That dominance is now in danger. With Merrimack’s loss to Union and Vermont’s to St. Lawrence, that nonconference record now stands tied at 6-6-0.
Bear in mind that what’s at stake here is more than chest-thumping. If a league does poorly outside of its conference, that’s potentially going to affect how many of its teams make the NCAA tournament.
So keep an eye on the upcoming holiday tournaments and how well the Hockey East teams other than your own fare. A selection berth may hang in the balance.