These are the three things I think I learned this week.
Three: Home ice isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.
I’d commented earlier this season that home ice appeared to be more dominant than usual this year. Well, this weekend may have singlehandedly changed all that.
One might have thought that the Boston University – Boston College home-and-home series would have been home ice’s undoing since going into the weekend the road team had won eight of the last nine battles between the archrivals. However, both teams held serve in their own barn.
It’s what happened everywhere else except for New Hampshire’s sweep of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Providence and Merrimack, two teams that appeared to be evenly matched, played a home-and-home series. The road team won each night.
Massachusetts and Northeastern also played a home-and-home. The Huskies had been struggling greatly, so it looked probable that either the Minutemen would sweep or home ice would prevail. Nope. Once again, the road team won each night.
Finally, Vermont travelled to Maine for a two-game set. Although the Black Bears had struggled mightily coming out of the gate, taking three-of-four points in their last two games seemed to indicate a team emerging from those rough times. And with the Catamounts struggling themselves, the Alfond Arena crowd loomed as a decisive seventh man.
Make that a no. The Catamounts took three-of-four points.
Two: BU might be ready to make it a three-team race for the Hockey East title… except that New Hampshire isn’t cooperating.
When the Terriers defeated BC on Friday night, they made an important statement. BC and UNH might be numbers one and two in the country, but BU was ready to join them.
Prior to the win, BU had lost all three games against the two frontrunners. Getting swept would have put the Terriers 10 points behind the Eagles and seven behind the Wildcats. Perhaps just as importantly, it might have implanted an also-ran mentality onto the Terrier psyches.
The win changed all that.
BC’s convincing rebound victory back at Conte Forum re-established that the Eagles remained at the top of the pecking order. And UNH’s sweep of Lowell added two more points of separation in the standings between the Wildcats and Terriers.
That makes Thursday’s trip to Durham a huge one for BU. A loss will create even more distance in the standings and also further solidify the pecking order. Even a win for BU will mean that it has lost two-of-three to BC and UNH; a loss will mean a UNH season sweep.
One: BU proved a worthy test of Jerry York becoming the winningest all-time coach.
Friday night’s Terrier win proved that. Saturday night’s contest also was no cake-walk.
I don’t root in games between two Hockey East teams, but I’m prepared to make an exception on Friday night when the Eagles travel to Providence. I have a lot of respect for what Nate Leaman is doing with the Friar program. Heck, my niece Cherie played for the women’s team.
But I’d like to see Jerry York break Ron Mason’s record of 924 wins against the Friars. I’d like that 925th win to come in New England so BC fans have a fighting chance to see it. Also, the Friars will be a worthy test. The win will be no foregone conclusion.
The alternative isn’t pretty. If the Eagles tie or lose to PC, they’ll then be off for the holidays and the record-breaking game will come out in Minnesota at the Mariucci Classic. Few BC fans will be there to see it.
Additionally, BC’s opening-round contest will be against Alabama-Huntsville. No offense to the Chargers, but they’re 1-12-1 this season and went 2-28-1 last year. If that matchup is even close, I’ll eat the game puck.
Record-breaking wins don’t come with style points, but it says here Jerry York’s win will be best savored if it comes next Friday. I hope that happens.