Things were a bit hairy for Boston University after lopsided losses to Boston College and Maine. But after a win against Connecticut last Sunday, BU welcomed North Dakota for what turned out to be a pretty successful weekend. That leads the three things I learned this week:
1. Goaltending rotation broken, BU gets win, tie vs. North Dakota
All season, first-year coach David Quinn had rotated his goaltenders. This past weekend, Quinn broke the rotation going with Matt O’Connor both nights versus North Dakota. After an impressive win on Friday that included 37 saves in a 3-1 win, O’Connor got the call again on Saturday. He didn’t simply one-up his Friday performance, instead he posted a career-high 55 saves, including 24 in a wild third period, to earn a 3-3 tie against North Dakota. It’s difficult to tell if BU is suddenly back on path, but the team has great momentum heading into the marquis Red Hot Hockey matchup next Saturday at Madison Square Garden vs. Cornell.
2. River Hawks continue to roll in near-perfect weekend vs. Notre Dame
Massachusetts-Lowell provided a less-than-welcoming reception to Notre Dame this weekend, facing off against the Irish for the first time in the two programs’ long hockey history. The River Hawks were near perfect, allowing just one goal in the two-game series (1-0, 3-1 wins) while scoring all four of their goals on the power play. The Irish entered the weekend the top penalty killing team in the nation. For just the second time this season, Connor Hellebuyck played back-to-back nights, stopping 74 of the 75 shots he faced. Lowell’s five straight wins is tied with Ohio State for the nation’s longest winning streak and the River Hawks power play is now 15 for 51 (29%) after starting the season 1 for 25.
3. Black Bears returning to home ice dominance
Plenty of college hockey fans remember the days when Maine’s Alfond Arena was packed to the rafters every single night and the Maine Black Bears were nearly unbeatable on home ice. Well this year’s edition of the Black Bears seems to be returning their home ice to a place of dominance. After a 5-1 win over Boston College, Maine is now 6-1-0 at home this season. And the fans seem to be noticing. A capacity crowd of 5,125 watched Saturday’s contest at Alfond, an impressive increase from the 3,737 that watch Maine’s Hockey East home opener against just three weeks ago.