Notre Dame was just about a minute away from another lost weekend in Hockey East play. But then Bryan Rust saved the day, which leads the three things I learned this weekend.
1. Don’t write Notre Dame’s obituary yet
This hasn’t exactly been a welcome with open arms to Hockey East thus far for the Fighting Irish. And this past weekend had all the earmarks of being another difficult, frustrating weekend. Notre Dame hosted Maine, a team that entered the weekend without a road win. Friday night, the Irish spotted Maine a 2-0 lead. But what looked like back-to-back extra attacker goals had seemingly drawn ND even with about half a minute remaining. A controversial video review ended up negating the goal (I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the no-goal yet, so I can’t comment on the call) and making the Irish a loser for the third straight league game.
On Saturday, it seemed like the Irish were again headed for another 2-1 loss until Bryan Rust scored not once, but twice in 24 seconds to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. The win may breathe some new life into Notre Dame which is in danger of having to head on the road for a single-elimination opening round playoff game in Hockey East.
2. BU seems remarkably improved
The wins haven’t come BU’s way of late, winless (0-2-2) in its last four. But this BU team is playing much better hockey of late, taking BC to the wire in last Monday’s Beanpot before earning a hard-fought tie against a red-hot Massachusetts-Lowell team. What seems most improved for the Terriers is the team’s defensive play. Despite allowing 32 and 35 shots, respectively, over the last two games, the number of grade ‘A’ chances seem significantly reduced, bringing some relief to goaltenders Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire, both of whom have been BU’s best players since returning from the holiday break.
3. Vermont playing role of road warriors
The Vermont Catamounts played some impressive hockey during a 9-game homestand that wraparound around the holiday break. But when you play nine-in-a-row at home, there is a stark reality that you’ll likely have to play a long road-swing. That eight-game road trip ended Saturday night in style as the Catamounts finished off a weekend sweep of New Hampshire to move into solo seventh place but only three points behind third place Northeastern. Vermont won four of its last five games on the road trip and went 4-2-0 in Hockey East on the swing. If there is any team to keep an eye on in the bottom half of the standings right now, it’s Vermont.