UConn gains ground, travel woes for Wildcats and stormin’ into the ‘Pot

With a few teams idle, the Beanpot schools playing, at most, a single game and a couple of splits, the only team to gain any ground this weekend in Hockey East was Connecticut. That leads the three things I learned this weekend:

1. UConn only team to take three points

It was a heckuva weekend for Connecticut as they made the most of a difficult two-game home-and-home with Maine. The Huskies earned an overtime win at Maine on Friday night. Then, after both teams hopped a bus back to Connecticut, UConn rallied from two goals down to earn a 2-2 tie on Sunday. The three points catapulted the Huskies from 10th place all the way to eighth, passing Maine and Merrimack along the way. More over, UConn is now just three point out of fourth place and a first-round bye. We’ve said it all season, but there was simply no way to see this coming before the year began.

2. A long day, night and day for the Wildcats

Next time you are about to use the cliche “it’s been a long day,” consider what New Hampshire went through on Saturday and Sunday. The Wildcats were on a weekend trip to Notre Dame. After winning Friday night’s game, 5-2, UNH fell to the Irish, 6-4, in Saturday’s series finale. They often say losing the second game of a trip makes for a long ride home. With UNH, they weren’t kidding.

Because a blizzard was about to slam into Chicago, the team wasn’t able to fly out of O’Hare Airport on Sunday as planned. So, instead of spending an extra day or more in the Windy City, UNH chose to bus back. According to Dan Pankhurst, the voice of the Wildcats, the team traveled from South Bend to Buffalo, N.Y., on the first leg. There they changed busses and made their way to around Albany, N.Y., where the team’s usual bus company for local road games met them. The team headed to campus while Pankhurst and a couple of UNH coaches, all of whom had left their cars at Logan Airport, found their way back to Boston.

All tolled, the trip was about 17 hours for the team and about 18 and a half hours from the trio that arrived home via the Logan parking garage. Now that is one very long day(s).

3. Streaking to the the Beans

This year’s Beanpot semifinals will be delayed a day to Tuesday because of a snowstorm in Boston. Nonetheless, all three of the Hockey East entries in the tournament arrive on decent winning streaks. Northeastern has the most modest having won two games the weekend before last while sitting dormant this past Friday and Saturday. The Huskies, though, are unbeaten in four (3-0-1). Boston College has won three straight since losing to Maine a few weeks back. And Boston University, since falling to BC that same weekend, has run off four straight wins. The non-Hockey East entry, Harvard, is the only team limping into the Beanpot having lost to Union, 5-4, on Friday, though more notably just 2-4-0 since returning from the holiday break. Translation: put your money on Harvard.