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College Hockey:
Irish eyes smile, River Hawks keep defense alive and one team (make that TWO teams) need to keep practicing

After Notre Dame beat Boston College on the final day of the regular season, there was a reason to believe that the Irish could beat the Eagles in a best-of-three series. Still, it was difficult to pick Notre Dame. That leads the three things I learned this week:

1) Notre Dame proves postseason proficiency

I have said it for a few weeks: you need to be worried about Notre Dame if for no reason than this team last year won the CCHA tournament. This past weekend, the Irish shocked Boston College, 7-2, in game one. They then lost game two but rallied for a 4-2 victory in game three. If nothing more, you should believe in this Notre Dame team. If you’re smart, you’ll believe this Notre Dame team could become the first #8 seed to win the Hockey East tournament.

2) Massachusetts-Lowell remains alive for repeat

Advancing in tournament play in easy fashion just isn’t Lowell’s style. Remember back to last year when the River Hawks were Hockey East champs, they needed overtime in the quarterfinals to eliminate Maine, rallied to beat Providence in the semis and then won a 1-0 game with a third period goal for the title. A year later, still nothing comes easy for Lowell. The River Hawks led for just 77 seconds in Friday’s 3-2 victory over Vermont and never led in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss. Sunday, Lowell jumped to a 2-0 lead but couldn’t extend that lead despite controlling the game. After UVM potted a late power play goal in the second, Lowell had to return to the team that shut teams down defensively and finally earned a 2-1 win to advance to the Garden. The River Hawks should have a new promotion next season: free batteries for Lowell fans’ pacemakers. They certainly need it.

3) Vermont (and maybe Northeastern) needs to keep skating

The Catamounts may have lost to Lowell, but they can’t put the skates and sticks away just yet. Vermont still could qualify for the NCAA tournament if things fall right next weekend. If most of the conference tournaments are won by favorites (i.e. teams in the top 16 of the PairWise on the last day of the season), Vermont should earn an at-large bid. The most difficult part for the Cats is that they no longer control their destiny. Thus, in addition to continuing the practice, UVM will also need to do a lot of scoreboard watching. (Update, Monday 3:51 PM ET: According to Jim Dahl’s calculations, Northeastern still has a 7% chance of getting into the tournament)

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  • Alex

    Ferris played a really weak second half schedule. I see them washing out early in the playoffs.

    • Bigdawg

      Weak as in top-20 teams, Colgate, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Western Michigan in the toughest conference in college hockey…..
      Alex, get your facts straight sport.

      • Darb0114

        To back your point, the CCHA also has the most teams in the current National Bracket.

      • Jason

        I think you forgot the word “second” in front of toughest, easy mistake so no worries. Also, I think you mean top-20 teams who are over-rated, which is another easy mistake so I wouldn’t dwell on it.

  • KAW

    If I were a top-3 team (and I am cheering for the Broncos), I would not want to face any of the first-round winners. I certainly wouldn’t take them lightly. I love this league, especially this year.

  • Michael

    Ferris was also playing without 3 regular forwards with a combined 63 points and had 3 guys in their place who have all dressed in fewer than 20 games this year and have a combined 4 points. Even if Nelson had been in the net, I don’t think Ferris was winning that game Saturday night.

    • Darb0114

      I couldn’t agree more. Replacing a 63 point force with a 4 point force will affect the outcome dramatically. It is best they rest players and prepare for the postseason. 

  • PDT

    Bowling Green upset Northern in the first round last year. Don’t think that series is a lock either way. It’s going to be a battle.

  • Chiefmarquette

    I think NMU needs to take BGSU seriously. But the face that the falcons beat them lost year i think makes it easier for NMU to win they will have revenge on their minds. Should be interesting

  • Swoop12

    Connor Knapp= Goalie of the Year

    • Fox5 2

      Connor Knapp-Goalie of the Year?Shouldn’t goalie of the year,Have more then 20 games played?Come on now.We should put Cal Heeter in the running if that’s the case.

  • ChoochMcGoo

    Ohio State is still a LAUGHABLE hockey program.  They don’t deserve to sniff the NCAA’s this year.
    Good luck in the B1G Hockey league when you replace teams like Northern Michigan and Bowling Green with Wisconsin and Minnessota.  You are staring down the barrell of a 10 win season.

    • Yooper

      Are you suggesting that NMU and BGSU are cupcakes and when OSU joins a league with B10′s they will have a much tougher time?  You’re joking right!
       I know BGSU hasn’t faired well lately, but NMU has always been tough.  OSU did well against NMU this year, but that’s only this year.  I’ll tell you what’s going to happen when the B10 league forms – THERE IS GOING TO BE FEWER of them going to the big dance.  NMU has never been intimidated by any B10 team.  They’ve played MSU four times this year, UM four times, WI twice, OSU twice, as well as Notre Dame, and they have a pretty good record to show for it.
      There are no slouches in the current CCHA or WCHA —-so knock off the elitism.

  • fcc56

    “[T]he Bulldogs’ biggest weakness, offense. Only time and games played will tell how much of a liability that will prove. . .”.

    Can’t imagine that could be much of a liability in a conference tournament or the NCAAs. Well, unless you need to score to win. :)

    I don’t really have an opinion about this team; this just seems like a remarkable statement (not in a good way) regarding a team that is regarded in some quarters as a possible national champion.

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