Weekend two of Hockey East is in the books and what an interesting weekend it was. Boston College entered as the number one team in the country and may not have left that way. The league’s three newest coaches all faced major tests and a few thought they would all be looking for their first wins when the weekend completed. After all games are played, here are three things we learned.
1) Don’t underestimate a new coach
Three Hockey East teams had coaches looking for their first victories: Northeastern (which already had two cracks), Massachusetts-Lowell and Providence. By weekend’s end, the three schools combined for an impressive 5-0-0 record. Northeastern posted one of the more impressive wins, shutting out New Hampshire, 4-0, on Friday, the first blanking of the Wildcats in more than five decades. Lowell may have shocked many heading onto the road and sweeping Minnesota State in a two-game series, 4-2 and 4-1. The River Hawks used two goaltenders to get the wins – rookie Brian Robbins and sophomore Doug Carr – something that could bode well for a team looking at goaltending as its possible Achilles’ heel. And Providence notched two home wins for first-year coach Nate Leamen, shocking Boston University on Friday before holding off a pesky Massachusetts club on Saturday. The long and short is that Hockey East’s standings show the Friars at the top, a perfect 2-0-0. Not the worst place to be after a weekend of play.
2) On the other end…
Providence may sit at the top, but at the bottom is my preseason pick, New Hampshire. Things have been UGLY for the Wildcats thus far. Opening the season with a rare three league games, UNH has been outscored, 14-1, and not surprisingly with those numbers stands at 0-3-0 at this point. The most important thing that comes to mind looking at that record is the fact that UNH simply can’t get those games back. Teams like Lowell and Vermont haven’t played a single league game, thus are 1.5 games in front of the Wildcats before their season starts. Even BC and Merrimack are already 1-0-0 in league play. I’m not saying that UNH is already done in for but putting yourself in a three-loss hole this early make life much more difficult than necessary.
3) Will we ever see another Friday?
It would be seemingly impossible (or take more time than most of us have) to check schedules to know if this ever happened, but this writer would be happy to bet against the fact that BC, BU, UNH and Maine all posted losses on the same night any time in the past. That rare moon alignment happened this Friday night when Maine and BC both lost non-league games (to North Dakota and Denver, respectively) and the Terriers and New Hampshire lost on the road (to league foes Providence and Northeastern, respectively). BC and BU rallied on Saturday for wins. Maine tied North Dakota on the road on Saturday. New Hampshire was the only team to get swept, losing at home to BC on Satruday. Hockey East’s four strongest teams, according to past tournament results at least, hardly had a Friday to brag about.