Weekend recap: Feb. 11-12

The weekend now in back of us led to some very interesting shuffling in the Hockey East standings. So let’s get started figuring out what happened when the dust settled.

We can start with a very interesting fact about Friday night. A rare occurrence as all 10 teams were in action and in each of the five games, the visiting team won. That’s not something you’re going to see every day.

One of Friday’s games was an absolute shocker as Vermont, which at one point a week earlier had scored just five goals in six games exploded for seven goals on the road against Maine in a 7-2 win. It was the first back-to-back wins for the Catamounts this season and, in each of the two wins, Vermont put up a seven spot. For Maine, on the other hand, things became more frustrating as goaltending woes continued. The Black Bears used all three of their goaltenders that dressed that night.

That game, combined with Providence’s loss to Boston College and an overtime loss for Massachusetts to Boston University, catapulted Vermont into a tie for seventh place with the Minutemen, three points clear of Providence for the final playoff spot. A Providence-UMass 3-3 tie on Saturday combined with Vermont’s 4-2 loss at Maine in the second game of that series places UMass in 7th, Vermont in 8th one point behind and Providence on the outside looking in at 9th with just three weekends remaining.

Merrimack may have made the ultimate believers out of Hockey East fans by sweeping New Hampshire, winning 4-2 at Durham on Friday before taking an overtime win, 3-2, at home on Saturday. The sweep really made the top of the Hockey East standings interesting. UNH wasted a golden opportunity to put a stranglehold on the top spot, entering the weekend two points ahead of BC, which played just one game. Had the Wildcats swept, they’d have grabbed a four-point lead for first. Instead, they are tied with BC, each team has six games left and, in the final weekend, BC and UNH will square off in a home-and-home series.

That series could spell opportunity for Merrimack. The Warriors are now three points behind BC and UNH and are easily the hottest team in hockey having won 12 of 13, 14 of 16 and 17 of its last 20. If the Warriors continue to win the games they should (i.e. two against UMass and two against Providence) and at least gain a road split in Orono, Merrimack could find its way to the top spot when the dust settles.

With Maine taking just two of four points from Vermont, they have now made home ice seem almost impossible. Maine is five points behind fourth-place BU with six games remaining.

Thus, you can begin mapping out at least where the quarterfinal games will be played. Though nothing is clinched, it seems that BC, UNH, BU and, for the first time in history, Merrimack will be hosting home ice series. All four of those will battle it out for the league title as well.

Maine and Northeastern are in the heated battle for the fifth and sixth spots. It’s quite possible one of those two teams will travel to Lawler Arena to face Merrimack in a building that might now be the toughest ice sheet to play on in Hockey East.

UMass, Vermont and Providence, then, will be in the race for the final two playoff spots as Massachusetts-Lowell’s overtime loss to Northeastern on Friday probably spells the end of the River Hawks playoff hopes.

While the league standings may have juggled, or at least saw some gaps close and expand this weekend, so too did the PairWise rankings as they relate to Hockey East teams.

Boston College, with a win in the Beanpot over BU and Friday’s win at Providence, have moved to No. 2 in the PairWise. Wondering how close BC is to the top spot? It’s actually not very close right now. BC losses all three of the comparisons to Yale. Though a win tonight could give the Eagles a higher RPI than Yale, it still won’t impact the common opponents or teams-under-consideration criteria.

Merrimack, almost fittingly, was the biggest jumper in the PairWise and currently is tied for fourth with Denver (Merrimack loses the tie breaker right now with a lower RPI). Thus, if the tournament began today, Merrimack would be a number two seed, quite impressive for a team that was on the bubble a few weeks ago.

New Hampshire, of course, fell to ninth in the PairWise and right now represents Hockey East’s third and final NCAA tournament hope. BU has dropped to 17th and will have to make up ground in the final five weeks before the NCAA field is announced.

78 COMMENTS

  1. FTR, Paula- Michigan won their 14th GLI championship and improved to 50-31-1 all time in the GLI according to Matt Trevor at Michigan.

  2. Streaker…you are correct 14 titles. I know it’s shocking to learn that PW can’t be bothered to get facts straight…kind of like the seven-year-old who has just figured out where his Christmas presents really come from.

    FTR: 1966,75,88,89,90,91,92,93,94,95,96,2007,08,10.

  3. Actually Merrimack has hosted one playoff series, against BC, the year that Maine was precluded from post-season play by the NCAA for using an ineligible player.

    Merrimack lost that series.

  4. So I take it Theresa has changed her mind about Tech winning a playoff game against the Sioux. Last week in your predictions before the games you predicted sweep then said “Wait until next week when the series will most likely go three.” After the absolute dismantling of Tech last weekend, it appears your eyes have been opened as to just how bad Tech is. Still would have been nice for you to stick to your original prediction and explain why you thought it or why you changed your mind.

    • Well, it still might happen, as MTU is capable of winning games. Yes, last weekend did help me change my mind. Teams don’t typically get blown out 11-2 on senior night (as Tech did). I think it’s not necessarily a case of finally seeing how bad Tech is, but more of a case of finally admitting that yes, Virginia, North Dakota is dominating right now. I think at times this season I’ve probably been a bit harder on UND than I should be (I may explain why next week …) and wasn’t expecting them to lay quite the smackdown as they did.

      Do I think MTU still has a chance to steal a game? Yes. Will they? Probably not. Thus why I worded my pick the way I did, saying UND will win in most likely two.

  5. Teresa: I am a SCSU fan and I really wished you had picked UMD. This season any time you came down in favor of the Huskies they ended up looking like doggie doo. Either way I have enjoyed your colunm this year.

  6. Theresa- Don’t lose sleep over your Sue pick. People change there minds daily. This Sue fan is like the rest of them and just want to pick people apart to be cool or funny. They get there kicks out of doing that.

    • Actually I wasn’t picking her apart at all. And wasn’t trying to be cool or funny. I asked a question as to why she changed her mind. Get over yourself and your hatred for the best team in country that destroyed your team this year.

        • Brah, I don’t know why you keep clicking the wrong conference recap? Must be the Wisconsin education? I mean you did go to Wisconsin right and not Madison Area Technical College? You need to be clicking the “BIG” link and not the “NCHC” link.

          Anyway Sioux roll this week…another step closer to pissing off Wisco in the quest for an 8th National Title.

          Oh and Wisco if your Math skills are as good as your navigation skills. I will break it down for you….

          7 National Titles > 6 National Titles = North Dakota is better than Wisconsin.

          • So much to address here:

            1) A recap would imply something has happened, this is a preview.

            2) Wisconsin is nationally ranked as a top thirty university – maybe higher. Any creditable college ranking website can provide proof.

            3) At the time of Wisco’s post, the B1G “preview” wasn’t posted.

            4) If you think one national championship is enough to claim superiority, that’s not a good argument. With North Dekota’s (I said it) monopoly on Canadian talent and recruiting, I would be embarrassed with only one more national championship.

            5) Campus life in Rapid City, North Dekota is not even comparable to campus life in Madison.

            6) Western sweeps – book it.

            7) Dave Hakstool is a bad person.

            8) Ralph Engelstad should’ve been banned from North Dekota, not celebrated.

            9) Chokes is enough to drive any normal person away from North Dekota’s fan base.

            10) Boom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely, idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

          • I don’t see anything homophobic in his post. Why the persecution complex?
            USCHO why do you allow someone to treat you, your readers and your website like this?

          • You know what, your response is completely stupid, but I will respond just because I am bored….

            1) Recap/Preview….stupid point. They started with a recap of their picks from last week and then went onto a preview. I’m just not even going to keep going on this one

            2) I bet Wisconsin is a fine school albeit their atrocious hockey team this year. 3-19-4 LOL LOL LOL. I was just simply asking Wisco if he actually attended UW and not some community college

            3) “At the time of Wisco’s post, the B1G “preview” wasn’t posted.” That’s because the B10 hockey conference is a joke, no need for USCHO.comwriters to post about it. You both spend more time over her in the NCHC blog anyway.

            4) Yes, one more title means North Dakota is better. I mean that is the goal right? Win National Titles….I could give you a prize for leading the all-time series, but its the hardware that counts.

            5) No argument there. Madison is more fun than Grand Forks, but this argument had nothing to do with that. Null

            6) I already covered that.

            7) Dave Hakstol is a saint and stupid consistent. You wish you had him coaching the BADgers

            8) The same for 7 goes for 8. Ralph Engelstad is a G. GO SIOUX!

            9) Chokes seems like an upstanding gentleman.

            10) “Boom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” more like bust.

  7. Kenny checked in this morning. He’s pumped for another big weekend of North Dekota hockey. He and Chockes will be rockin’ out at Joe Black’s and want to extend an invitation to all true North Dekota fans.

  8. Picking St. Cloud to get swept in the HBNHC aka Concrete Cathedral aka House of Pain is just absurd. No respect for the defending back to back conference champs.
    SCSU SWEEEEEEPS

  9. A split this weekend for Denver versus Colorado College would have harsh ramifications for the Pioneers’ PWR. While Denver has outscored the Tigers 11-1 in two games thus far this season, Jim Montgomery’s team will need to keep a sharp focus on playing sound hockey and staying out of the penalty box to enhance its chances for a weekend and season sweep of CC. Denver has posted only one NCHC weekend sweep this season [versus St. Cloud] in mid-January. Denver needs a sweep as it makes a push to secure home ice for the first round of the conference playoffs and to solidify its PWR.

  10. I just want to see who’s standing up and who’ll be sitting down after these last 3 crazy weeks. I don’t like Miami, specifically for the style they play, the way they are coached, and their continued poor performance in the NCAA post-season… But they are in a good position. Miami can probably split their final 6 games, and not drop in the PWR. A comforting thought, but the schedule is BRUTAL.

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