Here’s the inaugural Monday morning wrapup of the season with the extended column to come on Wednesday.
These are the three things I think I learned this week.
1. There’s no such thing as a sure thing.
The one mortal lock going into last weekend was Massachusetts-Lowell hosting Sacred Heart. The River Hawks, after all, were coming off a season in which they’d won the Hockey East regular season title, the league tournament, and had advanced to the Frozen Four. After suffering limited attrition in the offseason, they were selected as the nation’s number one team.
Sacred Heart, on the other hand, had to rally last year to finish with a 2-30-4 record.
The matchup appeared so lopsided, I even quipped in the picks blog that if Lowell lost, it should fire coach Norm Bazin.
Well, that piece of comic absurdity blew up in my face when Sacred Heart toppled the River Hawks, 2-1.
2. Don’t expect splits.
Of the six two-game sets between teams last week, not one ended up as a split. None involved league games so no teams has shot up in the standings or plummeted to an early cellar.
Nonetheless, Providence, Notre Dame and Northeastern got the early upper hand by sweeping their two games with Minnesota State, Western Michigan and Alabama-Huntsville, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, Maine and Merrimack got swept by Saint Lawrence and Denver, respectively.
Only Vermont avoided a sweep while also being unable to salvage a split. The Catamounts rebounded after an opening night loss to North Dakota, gaining a tie in the rematch.
What does it all mean?
The season’s only a week old, but Providence and Notre Dame took the biggest first steps to an NCAA berth.
3. Boston University’s freshman forwards look pretty good.
If you play five freshmen forwards (not to mention two freshmen defensemen), there are going to be early-season inconsistencies. On a shift-by-shift level, those were visible in BU’s season opener on Friday.
However, this is a talented group that should round nicely into form. Robbie Baillargeon is playing on the first line with Danny O’Regan and Evan Rodrigues. You don’t begin your career on the first line with only borderline talent.
Friday’s all-rookie third line of Tommy Kelly, Nick Roberto and Brendan Collier exchanged Collier for another freshman, Kevin Duane, on Saturday. On each evening, a member of the line scored.
Tommy Kelley scored on the power play on Friday. (Note that borderline rookies don’t get power-play time in their first game.) Roberto scored on Saturday, assisted by Duane.
Another freshman, Dillon Lawrence, centered the fourth line each night.
Without contributions from the freshmen, BU will be doomed this year. Based on one weekend, however, this should be a very interesting year for Terrier fans.