Here are three things I think I learned from this weekend’s games.
Three, BU is back.
After Boston University’s season-opening 5-0 win over New Hampshire, I posted how impressed I was with this year’s Terriers. Though the game wasn’t as dominating as the final score indicated, they still played a very solid game and in particular, played with a maturity in protecting a lead that was missing last season.
In short order, though, BU reverted to the Jekyll-and-Hyde ways that proved so frustrating last year for its fans: a loss to Providence, BU’s first loss to an Atlantic Hockey team and then rock bottom. Rock bottom was a 7-1 shellacking at the hands of Massachusetts-Lowell.
That loss, however, may have turned around the Terriers’ season, giving them a renewed focus. While they did lose the next game to Merrimack, 3-2, they played solidly throughout, holding a one-goal lead until a late third-period Merrimack power-play goal tied it up. The Warriors’ goal in the first minute of overtime left BU with nothing to show for its efforts, but the solid play was there.
Since then, BU has gone three-for-three: shutting out Boston College, 5-0, defeating Vermont, 4-3, and then UNH, 4-1.
Maybe that 7-1 slap in the face was just what the Terriers needed.
Two, the Huskies ain’t dead yet.
Northeastern got its first win under new coach Jim Madigan in the third game of the season, an impressive 4-0 victory over UNH that evened its record at 1-1-1.
That promising start, however, quickly derailed as a seven-game winless streak — all within Hockey East — sent the Huskies plummeting in the standings. The preseason prediction of a struggle to make the playoffs appeared to be coming into fruition.
Until this past weekend.
Impressive wins over a hot Providence team, 5-2, and the back end of the “sweep” — a 4-1 victory over Vermont — have elevated the Huskies into what an optimist would call a three-way tie for fifth. In reality, the standings are no where near as rosy as that sounds. Northeastern has played far more league games (12) than anyone else. (Massachusetts has played 10 and several have played nine.) So games in hand for everyone else abound.
The fact remains, however, that the Huskies were coming close to burying themselves before it was even Thanksgiving and that’s no longer the case.
Those four points may have saved the season.
One, Vermont is in trouble.
The Catamounts have one point in the standings.
The nearest team has seven points.
Yes, there have been a bright spot or two this season. The Cats defeated top-ranked Minnesota in their second game of the year. More recently, they tied UNH, 4-4.
But unless you want to start considering a one-goal loss to Boston University last weekend and an early one-goal loss (plus an empty-netter) against Merrimack as moral victories, the Catamount canoe is taking on water.
The Cats stand the distinct chance of being out of playoff contention before the stretch run even begins, much like Lowell last year.
It’s not too late. But the clock is ticking.
Or is that a grenade?