I know some of you are expecting to rail on the finish of Frozen Fenway. I won’t. The reality is that people who love it will continue to love it. People who don’t like myself, “curmudgeons” according to some, won’t. It sounds like a lot of the discourse we hear these days in many factions of life.
Instead, this weekend was about a league standings that continue to tighten. That’s where we’ll start.
1) The Hockey East accordion begins to tighten
Heading into last weekend, a quick look at the standings would say there were groups of haves and have nots. A distinct group of seven teams comprised the top of the standings; five others were the bottom.
But certain results – particularly on Saturday – kept this accordion from separating further, instead bringing it closer together. Providence beat Vermont for its second league win. Maine picked up its second win as well with a shutout of Connecticut. Merrimack knocked off Notre Dame. And Northeastern rallied to tie New Hampshire.
Seventh and eighth place are still divided by five points (though only seven separate seventh from last). But if you reverse all of Saturday’s results, the 7/8 gap is nine and that group on the bottom are close to putting themselves out of contention for a top-four spot in the final standings.
If there are some less-than-expected results in the standings come the end of the season, look back to Saturday night.
2) Northeastern’s Aston-Reese continues red-hot play
Since the beginning of December, the leading scorers among Hockey East players are Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese and New Hampshire’s Tyler Kelleher. Take the games prior to the break and only count game since returning after Christmas, Aston-Reese nudges ahead with 10 (though a quartet of Hockey East players are just a point behind with nine in that span).
What is making Aston-Reese stand out is his goal scoring prowess. Since December 28, Aston-Reese has 10 points. Seven are goals.
What this hasn’t necessarily translated to, though, is wins for his Northeastern team. Over that five-game stretch, the Huskies are 1-3-1 despite the success of the all-star forward.
3) River Hawks finish road trip at perfect 6-0
Lowell coach Norm Bazin wanted to give his team a test on the road and there was no better time to do it that when his school’s students were away for break. Bazin didn’t schedule a single home game for break, instead sending his River Hawks on a six-game swing away from Tsongas Center.
It could have been a deadly risk. Instead his club went 6-0-0, improving to 15-5-3.
The River Hawks return home this Friday though now head into the meat of the Hockey East schedule, facing Providence to begin. Those two teams have faced off five times in the last five seasons in postseason play, developing a healthy rivalry. It’s hard to tell where this Lowell team will go but road wins are always a welcome sign for any coach and any team.