Yes, there were other games but when I looked at the top three things I learned, they all centered on the Fenway games.
3. The Minutemen are heating up
In the first half, Massachusetts had some very nice ups (wins over Boston College and Northeastern) and some not-so-nice downs (two five-game winless streaks).
More recently, though, the Minutemen have put together a nice 3-1-1 stretch, capped by taking three of four league points this past week. The highlight, of course, was the overtime defeat of Vermont at Fenway.
They still must overcome a significant gap in the standings to move any higher than their current tied-for-seventh position. Their closest targets are Providence and Massachusetts-Lowell, who are three and four points ahead, respectively, but also hold two games in hand.
That said, with three teams — UMass, Northeastern, and New Hampshire — all in close competition for the last two playoff berths, the recent success has come at a very good time.
2. Look out for Maine
While the Black Bears are conceding games in hand to their nearest rivals in the standings, they have moved into fourth place and more importantly, are playing their best hockey of the season.
Their overtime win over New Hampshire at Fenway gave Maine its fourth straight win and eighth in its last nine games.
A major component of that success has been the Black Bear power play, tops in Hockey East with a 27.8 percent conversion rate. Over the course of their four-game winning streak, it has put together the following numbers: 2-for-7, 3-for-7, 2-for-8, and 3-for-5.
While they’ll be challenged during upcoming series with Merrimack, Boston College, and Boston University, it’s not going out on a limb to say that scoring two-plus goals a game on the man advantage will be likely to keep the contests going into the W column.
1. There’s still magic in playing outdoors
I’ll almost certainly write more about this topic in this week’s column, but despite those who decried the Frozen Fenway doubleheader in light of the 59-degree temperatures at game time for the opener, everyone involved seemed to have a great time.
The fans enjoyed themselves immensely, helped, no doubt, by two overtime games. (Arguably they had an even better time with the balmy weather than they did two years ago while turning into icicles.) The players seemed thrilled at the experience of playing at Fenway Park.
As one coach told his team heading into overtime, “Fewnway Park… playing a rival… overtime. It doesn’t get any better than this!”