These are the three things I think I learned this week.
Three: Boston College can get away with occasionally playing like pyromaniacs.
The Eagles have earned their unanimous number one ranking, but they’ve played with fire a couple times this season and gotten away with it. They kicked off their current nine-game winning streak with a victory over Massachusetts that serves as Exhibit A.
UMass led 3-0 heading into the third period, but BC used its superior firepower to roar back and send the game into overtime, 4-4, where it completed the comeback with an OT goal.
A handful of games later, the Eagles again found themselves down in the third period to the Minutemen, this time trailing 2-1 with 11 minutes left before coming away with a 3-2 win in regulation.
The latest exhibit for the prosecution charging the Eagles with pryomania came on Friday night against Merrimack. Once again, they dug a three-goal hole for themselves, trailing 3-0 midway into the second period. Little more than four minutes later, however, they’d again used their formidable firepower to tie the score and in the third got the game-winner.
Hey, even consensus number one teams fall behind and those likely to stay number one have the ability to crawl out of those holes. But the Eagles had better get the pyromania out of their system early in the year when they’ve got a shot at getting away with it. Come March and April, those kind of habits send you heading for the golf course.
Two: New Hampshire’s shutout streak was a team effort, not just Casey DeSmith.
Don’t get me wrong. DeSmith is playing terrific hockey right now, but the new UNH scoreless record of 204 minutes and 40 seconds he set is thanks to a lot of terrific defensive play by his teammates. The Wildcats’ 3-0 win over Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday provided ample evidence of that. Over the first two periods, they held the River Hawks to a total of only 12 shots. Of the 23 taken by the final buzzer, few were of the grade A variety.
DeSmith made the tough saves that he needed to and that was especially important early because UNH didn’t get its second goal until midway through the third period. But the entire Wildcat squad should take pride in DeSmith’s new school record.
One: Lowell may have experienced its “bung-puller” game on Sunday against UMass.
The River Hawks must have felt terribly frustrated after Friday night’s 3-0 loss to UNH. That shutout left them with only 13 goals in eight games, a 1.63 goals per game average better only than Maine’s 1.42.
On Sunday against UMass, however, they scored eight goals, led by Riley Wetmore’s hat trick. It was the kind of offensive outburst that can sometimes act as a “bung-puller” for teams, making it so talented but frustrated players stop gripping their sticks too hard.
The only cautionary caveat is this: Lowell’s next two league games come against UNH. For those with short memories, the Wildcats are the number one defensive team in the country.