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College Hockey:
River Hawks happy to be back, but not just happy to be there

Yes, Boston College won yet another Hockey East title (third straight!) and Boston University and Maine will be in the tournament. But it is Massachusetts-Lowell that really feels like it is ready for its second life. That leads the three things we learned this weekend.

1. A second life sometimes feels better than the first

The UMass-Lowell River Hawks didn’t want to fall in the Hockey East quarterfinals. But the River Hawks team, which has to feel like it is playing with the house’s money after improving from five wins a year ago, is ready for its second life. Lowell is headed back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996 – a 16-year absence – and that chance is plenty to inspire this team. Head coach Norm Bazin called his team “dangerous” on Sunday, because of the fact it will get back to the ice after a week off. This hungry Lowell team will face a fast-paced, high-flying Miami team that was one of the darlings down the stretch until it was knocked off by CCHA champ Western Michigan in the league semifinals.

2. BU needs consistency; Maine needs health

Friday night proved what many thought after the BU Terriers snuck by New Hampshire last weekend: BU isn’t playing well. In saying that, maybe the word inconsistent is the best way to describe the Terriers play of late. That inconsistency isn’t game to game. It’s minute to minute and needs to improve if the Terriers are to get past a tough Minnesota team on Gopher ice next weekend.

For Maine, missing Spencer Abbott, injured on Friday against BU, seemed to really have an impact in Saturday’s final. There has been little said about Abbott’s prognosis but you have to believe that if the nation’s best player is missing next weekend, advancing in the NCAA tournament could be tough.

3. BC simply can’t get in its own way

The Boston College Eagles not only enter the tournament as the number one overall seed, but this team is riding a 15-game winning streak, the longest in head coach Jerry York’s tenure at the Heights. If BC loses in the NCAA tournament, one would have to think it has to shoot itself in the foot. This is a team playing so incredibly well that is feels impossible to pick against them right now. And yes, the Eagles are my easy pick to win yet another title!

And speaking of picks, let me take this time to hoot and holler about the fact that, for the second straight year, I win the Hockey East picks title over Dave! Nice try, Ol’ Man!

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