Merrimack, yes Merrimack, now in position to take over first place

I know that Dave talked a lot about Merrimack’s recent success in last week’s column, but with Sunday’s victory over Massachusetts, this season for the Warriors has taken on an entirely different different meaning. That leads the three things I learned in this (albeit) abbreviated weekend in Hockey East:

1. Merrimack now can focus on first place

A few weekends ago, Merrimack was a team that was considered “battling for home ice.” But after a 7-2-1 span in league play since returning to break, combined with struggled among the league’s top teams, the Warriors now find themselves one point out of first place. And who will Merrimack face next? None other than first-place Boston College. The game will be played in the friendly (and tight) confines of Lawler Arena where the Warriors have won four straight.

2. If the NCAA tournament began tomorrow…

… it would be an ugly scene for Hockey East. Only three Hockey East teams would qualify for the NCAA tournament if the season began today: Boston College, New Hampshire and Boston University. BU, in fact, would be a bubble team. Yes, that’s the glass half empty approach as solid play late from teams like Merrimack and Massachusetts-Lowell could actually give Hockey East five teams in the tournament field. That, though, is a ways away.

3. Can rest help Northeastern?

Yes, anyone who follows college hockey knows that Northeastern has a chance to win its first Beanpot since 1988 – 25 years ago. Most would call the Huskies and underdog (swear, no pun intended) but you have to wonder if the fact that NU’s game Friday against Massachusetts being postponed could be beneficial to the Huntington Hounds. Yes, BC also was idle for the weekend because of the Blizzard of ’13. But imagine if Northeastern had played on Friday and lost, possibly losing confidence and momentum. Now, the Huskies can enter the TD Garden on Monday night remembering the incredible effort they put forth in their last game, a 3-2 win over Boston University last Monday night.