These are the three things I think I learned this week.
1. Notre Dame is now the team to beat. But…
The Irish have their destiny in their own hands with a one-point lead with two weeks to go. That’s thanks primarily to their own strong play, sweeping Maine last weekend to make them 11-1-0 in their last dozen league games.
Now that is an impressive achievement.
However, they’d still be tied with Boston College if not for Merrimack’s extra-skater goal on Saturday to steal a point from the Eagles. That point could be decisive and puts Notre Dame in the driver’s seat.
That’s because the Irish have what is clearly the toughest remaining schedule. They’re the only one of the Top Five teams with all four games against other top fivers. Each of the other top teams plays one of the other elite teams, but only twice.
So the Irish may be in the driver’s seat, but four huge potholes remain.
2. So perhaps Boston College is the team to beat.
BC is only one point behind Notre Dame and plays two-game sets against Vermont and Lowell compared to the Irish’s gauntlet of Providence and BU.
Easier but certainly not easy.
So another regular season title is still a strong possibility.
3. Northeastern is the team to beat outside of the Top Five.
The Huskies were the only non-top-five team to sweep last weekend, giving them a 6-0-1 record in their last seven league games. They now sit atop the second tier and mathematically could even catch BU should the Terriers lose all their remaining games and the Huskies keep sweeping.
That’s a major, major long shot, but it sure looks likely Northeastern will hold onto sixth place, given their current position in the standings, their strong play, and their remaining schedule of two against UConn then hosting Maine for the final two.
The Huskies are almost certain to finish behind the Top Five, but there’s not a team in the league that wants to play them right now.