Sweeps change the Hockey East landscape

These are the three things I think I learned this week.

1. Connecticut sweeps Massachusetts-Lowell!

UConn got off to a surprisingly strong start in Hockey East last year, but came into the weekend struggling with a 1-7-0 league record. And since the Huskies were facing a Lowell squad that was undefeated in Hockey East play, folks like me didn’t have much optimism for a turnaround.

A split would have been more than a moral victory. (Well, of course. It would have included an actual victory. But you get my point.) It would have included an important two points against one of the league’s top teams and provided a huge confidence boost.

But a sweep? That was eye-opening.

2. And then there were two.

Two teams now remain undefeated in Hockey East play: Providence and Boston College, not coincidentally the numbers one and two teams in the country going into the weekend.

Providence swept a Merrimack team that had been mighty pesky, earning a number 16 ranking itself. But the reigning national champs took a close one in Merrimack’s barn and then dominated a third period back at home to take a decisive 4-0 win.

The Eagles only managed three of four points against Northeastern, but that’s still nothing to sneeze at despite the Huskies’ 0-8-3 league record.

With Lowell’s twin losses, these two clubs are separating themselves from the pack, despite what the standings (and the radically unbalanced number of league games) show.

3. Notre Dame moves into striking distance.

It feels like the Irish have been playing possum this year. They’ve been at the fringe of the national rankings at number 20, but with a sweep of Massachusetts now are one of only two teams with only a single league loss. (New Hampshire is the other, but 2-1-4 doesn’t impress the way that 5-1-2 does.)

The 3-1 and 5-1 victories appeared, at least for someone who wasn’t in South Bend, quite conclusive.

If the Irish can topple Boston College on Thursday, we may have ourselves another serious contender for the title.