In 28 years, no team with a name other than Boston College, Boston University, Maine or New Hampshire ever won the Hockey East regular season title. Saturday night, that changed when Massachusetts-Lowell, a team that began the season 2-6-1 in league play, finished off an incredible late-season run to capture its first Hockey East regular season title. That leads the three things I’ll take away from this weekend.
1. All hail the River Hawks, unless you’re the Black Bears
Sure, Lowell has the coronation of regular season champion to don, but the excitement will last less than a week. On Thursday, the River Hawks will begin a best 2-of-3 quarterfinal series versus Maine. Generally the first-place team can glide through the quarterfinals. Not so for Lowell. Maine has played its best hockey down the stretch and won the season series against the River Hawks, two-games-to-one.
2. Boston University and Merrimack, an interesting study
Very few teams dominated Merrimack this season. Boston University was one of them. BU swept Merrimack by scores of 3-1, 4-1 and 5-2. But as many say, it’s difficult to beat a team four times in a season. BU will need to defeat the Warriors five times if they’re to advance. Home ice can be a major difference maker but this should be a series to watch for a potential upset.
All that may be an afterthought after we learned on Sunday that legendary BU head coach Jack Parker will retire at the end of the season. This easily could become the Ray Lewis effect and spur BU on to an inspired performance in the playoffs. More on that later in the week.
3. Let’s play two… three… four… maybe five
Boston College took three of four points at Vermont this weekend. But to advance to the TD Garden, the Eagles will need to earn two more wins next weekend in a best-of-three quarterfinal series. If this game goes to three games, obviously, the Eagles and Catamounts will play five straight games against one another something Boston University and Northeastern did two years ago. Needless to say, by the time Saturday and Sunday nights roll around, BC and Vermont will have seen plenty of one another.