It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on Hockey East, though most of the action among the league teams took place over the past week. And a pretty ugly week it was unless you’re Boston College and Merrimack.
Both the Eagles and Warriors earned two wins during the holiday break. BC captured the title at the annual Ledyard Tournament at Dartmouth eking out victories over Colgate (6-5) and Mercyhurst (4-1 scoring two insurance goals in the final 80 seconds). And Merrimack continued to roll, this time against Atlantic Hockey teams (yes, I know some still think these should be walkovers, but they should talk to Northeastern), beating Army and RIT this past weekend.
Otherwise, it was a bit of a struggle for the league in its non-league action. UMass was swept in a non-league series at Wisconsin, while Maine dropped the opening game of the Florida College Classic to Miami, 4-1, before rallying for an overtime win over Cornell in the consolation game, 3-2.
Vermont lost the opening game of the only Hockey East-hosted holiday tournament, the Catamount Cup, 3-1 to eventual champion Ohio State. The Catamounts did rally for a 3-1 win over Harvard to finally get back to the win column. Vermont had just one win in its last eight prior to Sunday’s win over the Crimson.
The two biggest shockers of the weekend came from two of Hockey East’s top clubs: No. 10 Boston University and No. 2 New Hampshire.
BU, which continually squeaked by in victories in the first half of the season, leading to coach Jack Parker saying a number of times that the Terriers weren’t as good as their record, proved their coach right on Saturday, falling 6-1 to ECAC upstart Brown in the opening game of the Shillelagh Tournament. In BU’s defense, they hung on for a 3-3 tie in Sunday’s consolation game against No. 12 Notre Dame, despite being outshot, 42-19, in the game.
Sunday also produced the league’s biggest upset when St. Lawrence shutdown the potent UNH offense and earned a 2-1 overtime win over the Wildcats. UNH couldn’t score on any of its six power play opportunities, leading to the defeat.
A 6-6-1 non-conference record since Christmas Day might seem like a decent non-league record, but not for a conference that is desperate to boost its overall conference RPI.
If there is any silver lining, many of Hockey East’s players representing the United States at the World Junior Championship have played well enough to get the US to tonight’s semifinal against rival Canada. Hopefully the solid play of players like Charlie Coyle and Chris Kreider will continue for two more games as the Red, White and Blue look for their first ever back-to-back World Junior titles.