It was a pretty brief week for Hockey East teams, and thus my three things that I learned this week will be equally as brief. Here we go:
1) Maine is climbing toward “legit”
I know this will draw the ire of some Black Bears fans, but I’ve had a difficult time calling this Maine team legit to this point. That said, reaching the break with a 9-6-1 mark and a 9-1-0 record inside the friendly confines of Alfond Arena is impressive. Now I know that the Black Bears beat a somewhat weak AIC squad this weekend, but wins at home against Massachusetts-Lowell, Boston College and Boston University tell me that this team is poised to be a potential sleeper (or should I say contender?) in the second half. The one issue that must be solved: winning on the road. A 0-5-1 mark away from home is cause for serious concern given that six of the next seven games for Maine will be away from home.
2) What should we make of UMass?
Massachusetts finished off a weekend road sweep of Colgate on Sunday giving the Minutemen three straight wins. But this streak follows an eight-game winless skid leaving me shaking my head as to what to make of this UMass team. The Minutemen still have one game left on Tuesday night when they host Denver, a team coming off a win and tie at Rensselaer. That game could be a statement game for UMass if there is to be any belief this team can finish in the top half of Hockey East.
3) And the Terriers remain inconsistent
Raise your hand if after BU’s win over Cornell at Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving weekend that you began to have high hopes for the Terriers. I, for one, have my hand in the air. But a loss and tie to Merrimack followed by an ugly 4-1 loss against Bentley at home pushes BU to the break at 7-8-2 and in 10th place (albeit with games in hand) in Hockey East. BU, like Maine, is winless (0-5-0) on the road but has proved that there is little game-to-game consistency for this team.
Check back on Wednesday as I will be handing out mid-term grades for all 11 Hockey East teams.