In the end, BC and Providence stand out among the best

A five-team race late in the season became a three-team race in Hockey East’s final weekend. And in the end, though Boston College captured the top seed in the playoffs, the Eagles and the Providence Friars ended up atop of the league. That leads the three things I learned this weekend.

1. Eagles and Friars reign supreme

The odds of a co-championship heading into the final weekend seemed somewhat likely. Still it took many things aligning which at the end did. Boston College wrapped up their share of the title on Friday with a 3-1 win over UMass-Lowell. And the Eagles also clinched the top seed after winning the season series with the Friars. But Providence, which beat Massachusetts on Friday, knew a win on Saturday combined with a BC loss would earn the Friars a share. Once UMass-Lowell won the back end of the series, 3-1, and PC routed UMass, 6-0, co-champs were created, meaning each can claim to be the best after the Hockey East regular season.

2. Lots of crazy endings settled Hockey East’s positioning

Lowell’s win gave Providence a share of the regular season title. Notre Dame’s 1-0 win (and a 39-save performance by goaltender Cal Peterson) over Boston University gave Lowell the final first-round bye and forces the Terriers to host UMass next weekend. Merrimack’s 1-0 win over Vermont earned the Warriors home ice in next weekend’s first-round. And, most surprisingly, given New Hampshire’s 4-1 lead through two periods over Connecticut, the Huskies unlikely come-from-behind 5-4 overtime victory gave UConn its first home playoff series in Hockey East in the team’s second year in the league. If you missed Saturday night in Hockey East, particularly between the hours of 8:00 and 9:30 P.M. ET, you missed a lot.

3. There is a lot of concern over the bottom of Hockey East

Maine and UMass finished 11th and 12th, respectively, in Hockey East and each team ended the year in forgettable fashion. The Black Bears lost seven of its last eight league games, including falling 5-3 and 7-1 to the same Northeastern team they will face in the first round. UMass was winless in its last 18 league contests, its last Hockey East win coming in a weekend sweep of UConn on November 6 and 7. Now the Minutemen have to travel to BU in the opening round of the playoffs, trying to find a way to contain the Terriers offense. Though it is always popular to talk about the strength of Hockey East, top to bottom, Maine and UMass simply have not supported that theory much of this season.

23 COMMENTS

  1. There’s one relevant reference on the bottom of page 131 of “Blue Ice: The Story of Michigan Hockey”, By John U. Bacon. The author claims that Bevins won the award because he was so good against Michigan in the semi-finals, when BU beat Michigan 4-3 despite being out shot 36-14.

    Here’s the original reference:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=HbFdhcX3mqwC&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=ralph+bevins+hockey&source=bl&ots=mVK2JB1CfZ&sig=0Ti6KLCzwa72l96YRx9mVrgIQRY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=cSV_T-bxOKbSiALs7fWSAw&ved=0CE8Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false

  2. Blevins probably received the MVP Award at the 1950 Final Four at CC BECAUSE he played spectacular  in that whipping by CC..He also played great that BU won the semi-final game also.Mike Olson,MSU 1970.

  3. How about we just don’t write anymore articles about the Hobey until Gaudreau gets embroiled in some sort of drugs/sex/academic fraud/drunken driving/etc. scandal? Even then he probably wins it……

    • Well, given that the Hobey race (and the associated Hobey Hat Trick and Hobey finalist races) are my beat for USCHO, that really isn’t going to work for me…besides, it’s an honor to be named a finalist, and that’s usually the most interesting part of this for me, anyway.

  4. Regarding #3… The bottom of any 10-12 team conference is going to have it rough, but it’s sad to see the Black Bears, one of dominant HEA teams of through the 90s (two-time? national champs) with a great traveling fan base, sitting this low.

      • These days, facilities mean much more to top players… And Maine’s aren’t there. They really haven’t been the same since Coach Walsh.

    • The mighty have fallen, hard. UNH is also pretty terrible. UVM, while not a powerhouse year after year, is also going through some extended struggles.

      Also, not sure if this is coincidence, but the entire bottom half of the league (except tiny Merrimack) are the state schools, while the entire top of the league (except Lowell, who has a great coach) are the private schools

      • 25% of any league will be bottom feeders, regardless. It takes a special coach to change that… Gadowsky while at Princeton, Jackson at ND, Lehman at Union and PC, and Walsh at UMaine as examples, The NCHC is mostly state schools. The BIG is all state schools. Probably coincidence, but more the “tradition” of the program and school I think.

          • That’s right… AFTER Gadowsky left for Penn State. Tigers had mediocre seasons his last year or two. Now look at Penn State… He has them fighting on the bubble after just 3 seasons in the BIG. Good enough to win the AQ if they get hot.

  5. UML is every bit as good a team as BC and Providence. Their record against the BC, PC, ND, and BU stand as proof. Short of a couple of empty net goals and a couple ill timed late penalties stand in the way of sweeping all 4 of those teams. We’ll take the underdog role however.

      • An empty netter from BC, a last 2 min of play freshman penalty (double minor) vs ND allowed them to tie, a last min freshman penalty allowed BU to win in OT. Facts.1-1 vs BC, 1-1 vs PC, 1-0-1 vs ND, and 1-1 vs BU. How are any of those teams better than UML?

        • Relax, Vincent. Your insecurities are showing. Be happy you have a coach that has them in the conversation every year. When the Chiefs start doing something in the tournament, then you can start looking for respect…..

        • Agreed CG. But face facts… Except for the split with Duluth, their non-con schedule is weak. CC is in last place in the NCHC, HEA teams UNH, UMaine, and UMass are arguably weaker. And AIC, ASU, Brown, and Robert Morris? All this has them fighting for their lives on PWR bubble vs. UNO and Minn-Duluth in particular, as well as PSU, Minnesota, etc.,

      • They don’t, just there to illustrate that a 2 goal game was a lot closer than the final score. Just getting a bit tired of the lack of respect that UML gets and the relative overrating that others in HEA get.

  6. Lowell is a nasty team. They play in a nasty building with crazy awesome fans. They are a legit team and deserve to be in the discussion. The Friars proved themselves legit by finishing the season with 8 straight wins including the sweep of Notre Dame. They have a real shot to reapeat. 10 seniors behind them. Too bad their fans don’t pack that place like UML. BC fans fill most of the forum which is sad. Especially for, like Providence and North Dakota a team that has an argument as to why they are the best team in the country. Quinnipiac is an overrated joke who plays a chip shot schedule. St. Cloud is pesky, but I would put them fifth next to BU in Hockey East comparison. Speaking of BU, Agganis might be a little too big. Remember the old barn? The sieve chants? Ridiculous. Like Snively. Nobody visitors liked playing there. Speaking of UNH…what happened? Is it the library of an arena? The boring campus life? Time for Umile to go?

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