Two slumping Hockey East teams earned tournament titles (and a third will play for a title tonight), which leads me to ask: can winning your holiday tournament serve as a springboard to the second half?
1. Maine, Vermont win titles, hope to earn confidence
Holiday tournaments are strange creatures. Your team generally is coming off a long hiatus (as is everyone else in the tournament). Sometimes, as in the case of Vermont, you don’t play a typical semifinal-final scenario, instead playing pre-determined opponents. And the motivation to win some no-name brand trophy often isn’t enough to motivate a team. But for two Hockey East teams – Maine and Vermont – holiday tournament wins might be just what the doctor ordered.
Maine co-hosted its annual holiday tournament in Florida and knocked off Minnesota-Duluth and Cornell, the latter with an impressive come-from-behind victory. Vermont won its tournament with victories over nationally-ranked Union and then a come-from-behind victory of its own, scoring the final five goals in a 6-3 victory over Princeton to capture the Catamount Cup. Both of these teams desperately needed positive steps, and it will be interesting to see if these victories can be springboards.
A third team, Massachusetts, will have the same chance to win a holiday tournament on Monday evening when the Minutemen face Dartmouth in the final of the Ledyard Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H.
2. York’s milestone followed by humbling loss
No one in the college hockey world could ignore the fantastic win number 925 that Boston College head coach Jerry York enjoyed on Saturday night at the Mariucci Classic. But all of the good feelings were short lived as the Eagles were humbled by a blow away loss at the hands of Minnesota on Sunday. Most know that BC is a good enough team to return to the NCAA Frozen Four, but Sunday’s loss proved this team more than mortal. The Eagles, in fact, are 2-2-1 in their last five, a very pedestrian record for a team coming off a 10-game winning streak.
3. And let’s not forget Lowell
As easy as it would be to forget the Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks after a disappointing first half, Lowell instead has caught our attention with a season-best three game winning streak. Lowell outscored its opponents – Northeastern, Harvard and Bentley – 12-2 in that span and have returned to .500. Remember, heading into the break last year, the River Hawks were an average 9-6-0 but poured things on in the second half and came without a puck bounce of the Frozen Four. What will happen in the second half is yet to be seen, but three straight victories heading into 2013 is certainly a positive sign.