Before we get to the conventional three things I learned this week, let me mention one unconventional thing I learned…
… and that is how good Jimmy Connelly is at doing color on TV games. I knew he was good in the studio at NESN, but I DVR-ed the WBIR broadcast of the Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Northeastern game on Saturday and came away very impressed.
I look forward to telling people in the future that I knew Jimmy when he was a nobody.
Moving on, then, to the three conventional things that I think I learned this week.
1. Rumors of New Hampshire’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
After the Wildcats got swept by Lowell two weekends ago, things looked grim. UNH stood at 1-5-1 with an 0-2 record within Hockey East.
Time to play taps for the Wildcats?
UNH crawled out of its early-season coffin this weekend, sweeping a home-and-home with a Massachusetts team that had been playing some good hockey. Almost as important as the four points, is how the Wildcats achieved the sweep.
They outscored the Minutemen a cumulative, 13-1, winning at home on Friday, 4-1, then shellacking their hosts, 9-0, on Saturday. For a team that has struggled on offense, a 13-goal weekend against a league team could be just what the doctor ordered.
One weekend doesn’t make the comeback complete, but it sure was a good start.
2. Boston College looks like it’s back in full force, too.
It was one thing when the Eagles lost the season opener at Michigan, 3-1. Road game. Top opponent. First game of the year.
No big deal.
But I began to wonder when they went to Minnesota and despite that being a tough opponent and a tough venue, they only came away with one-of-four points and got blown out in the second game, 6-1.
Well, two weeks ago, the Eagles swept Northeastern, and this past weekend, they demolished Boston University, 5-1, and Army, 11-0.
So much for those early-season worries. With BC a perfect 3-0 in Hockey East and carrying a 6-2-1 overall mark, those concerns look pretty silly now.
3. I’ve definitely been underestimating Northeastern.
When the Huskies opened with sweeps of Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross, I yawned.
Talk to me, I thought, when you’re doing that against the big boys. (Yes, I’m fully aware of how well Atlantic Hockey has done in the postseason, but I’m not confused by the facts. I expect Hockey East teams to win those games.)
So when Northeastern split with St. Lawrence and, more significantly, got swept by a BC team that at the time I harbored concerns about, my reaction was: I told you so.
Which was a premature reaction, as it turns out.
The Huskies’ win at Lowell on Saturday, 4-2, definitely opened my eyes. This is a pretty good team with talent that extends beyond just Kevin Roy.
They face a tough home-and-home series this week against a resurgent (I think) New Hampshire squad, so I may well be picking them to lose two games yet again. (Insert your favorite snide remark about old dogs refusing to learn new tricks.)
But the Huskies have definitely caught my eye.