These are the three things I think I learned this weekend.
1. The regular season title is Boston College’s to lose.
The Eagles created more separation at the top of the Hockey East standings, defeating Boston University and Maine, while no other league team picked up four points in the standings. With a 10-1-1 Hockey East record, they now hold a six-point lead over their closest competitor.
Massachusetts-Lowell looks like the one team that could threaten BC, in part because those two teams appear to be the class of the league and also because the River Hawks are the one contender that not only holds three games in hand on BC but also plays the Eagles twice late in the season.
2. New Hampshire and Boston University were the only teams to lose twice on the weekend.
A couple of years ago, I’d have had a tough time imagining the writing of that last sentence. But it’s the new reality.
New Hampshire got swept by sixth-ranked Union, which is no disgrace and also has no effect on the Hockey East standings. But it does drop the Wildcats to a 1-8 record against Top 10 teams. They’ve done considerably better against teams ranked 11th-20th, but until they prove otherwise, it looks like there’s a ceiling on how far this team can go.
For BU, the talk isn’t about ceilings but floors. The Terriers’ two losses this weekend came at the hands of BC and Lowell, so those were four lost points in the standings. It’s almost gotten to the point of kicking a team when it’s down, but the Terriers’ performance in the first period against Lowell spoke volumes. They were outshot 19-2.
Can anyone recall the last time BU ranked ninth in Hockey East scoring this late in the season? I can’t.
And now that top defensemen Matt Grzelcyk is reportedly out for the season, the outlook appears even more grim. Unless the Terriers start winning, this may be the last I discuss their plight.
3. Northeastern stole an important two points on Friday.
The Huskies moved into second place with a 3-2 win over Vermont that defied logic. They were outshot 48-19, and after two periods they led 1-0 despite being outshot 34-11.
Of course, there was some logic to the win. Clay Witt has been a revelation in goal this season — a save percentage of .943! — and he was a stud in net on this night. Additionally, Braden Pimm, who scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, may be the least appreciated 15-goal scorer in college hockey.
That said, since Vermont won the following evening, the Catamounts have to be kicking themselves over the lost opportunity, especially since the loss counted as a league game and the win did not.