These are three things I think I learned from this weekend’s games.
Three: I better rethink my stance as an admitted Hockey East snob.
It was one thing when Massachusetts-Lowell lost to Connecticut on Tuesday. The River Hawks are coming off a season that saw them finish last in Hockey East with a 4-21-2 league record and only a single non-conference win.
Boston University’s loss to Holy Cross, however, was an eye-opener. The Terriers tried to rally in the third period from a 5-2 deficit and got back to within one, but couldn’t get the equalizer. It marked BU’s first ever loss to an Atlantic Hockey team.
When one of your league’s perennial powerhouses takes it on the chin, it’s a blow that leaves a mark.
Two: old time Merrimack Valley rivals Lowell and Merrimack are winning in similar ways.
Name the league’s top two defensive clubs.
It’s early and there are all kinds of schedule disparities, but these schools rank as Hockey East’s top two defensive teams. The Warriors have allowed only four goals in four games, earning the top designation. Lowell comes in second, having allowed only six goals in three games.
Now name the league’s top two teams on the man advantage.
Again, Merrimack? Lowell?
The two old Division-II rivals share the top power-play ranking with a 22.2 percent conversion rate. Lowell has scored four times on 18 opportunities; Merrimack six times on 27.
One: some ties are a lot better than kissing your sister.
If you disagree, try arguing with Providence coach Nate Leaman and UNH coach Dick Umile.
The Friars got off to a phenomenal start with wins over BU and Massachusetts in the season’s first weekend, but lost 5-2 to Minnesota-Duluth on Friday. Another loss, especially a lopsided one, would have further undone the previous weekend’s exploits. With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, PC trailed by a goal. But Matt Bergland’s goal tied it up and the Friars survived a penalty kill near the end of overtime.
That’s take-the-point-and-be-happy time.
For UNH, the point was no sister-kisser for another reason. The Wildcats had lost their first four games and were playing at St. Cloud, where the night before they’d lost 7-5. In that first night, they’d trailed 5-2 and 6-3 before rallying to get within one but getting no closer.
The prospect of this team opening the season 0-for-5 boggled the mind. (And that’s before considering that their next opponent is 12th-ranked Union.) So even though the Wildcats outshot their hosts 47-24, including 4-1 in overtime, and no doubt desperately wanted a win, at least they got their first point of the year.
Not a sister-kisser at all.