Lowell’s mirage and panics at Maine and Northeastern

I think I learned these three things this week.`

1. Massachusetts-Lowell’s ugly loss to Michigan a week ago was only a mirage.

When I watched the River Hawks lose 8-4 to Michigan, I thought it indicated they weren’t as good as their 2-0-1 record to that point had indicated. The early departures to the pros in the offseason had knocked Lowell down a peg after all, as so many of us had expected.

Instead, that game is looking more and more like the anomaly, and the River Hawks are looking more and more like the real deal.

They followed that loss with a win over Michigan State, then this weekend swept New Hampshire in their home-and-home series. They shut out the Wildcats, 2-0, in their own barn, and then spanked them 8-2 at the Tsongas.

They now stand at 5-1-1 overall and a perfect 3-0-0 within Hockey East.

So much for a regression at Lowell.

2. The early panic in Orono appears to have been unfounded.

It didn’t look good when Maine opened the season by traveling to Alaska and coming back with a doughnut. Then when the Black Bears were swept at home by Union, albeit second-ranked Union, the oh-for-the-season began to look ominous.

Since then, however, the Black Bears have gone 3-0-1, including a sweep this weekend over Massachusetts, so the concern has abated. In league play, they’re now one of only three teams with perfect records.

We’ll see if that remains true this next week when Maine travels to Vermont for two in the Catamounts’ barn, but for now, all is well in Orono.

3. Maybe it is time to panic at Northeastern.

We’ve been asking for a few weeks now whether it’s time to panic at Northeastern. In last week’s column, NU coach Jim Madigan explained to Jim Connelly why it wasn’t.

But after getting swept at Quinnipiac this weekend, the Huskies are now 0-6. Yes, Quinnipiac was a nationally ranked team a week ago, and Colgate, which swept the Huskies two weeks ago, is now ranked fourth in the country. And all four of those games were on the road.

Fair enough.

But the other two losses were at home. Vermont smoked the Huskies, 6-2, in the opener, and a team thought to be destined for the lower reaches of the standings, Massachusetts, beat them a week ago.

Next week, Northeastern plays a home-and-home series against Lowell, one of the top teams in the league, if not the country.

If now isn’t the time to panic, when is?