A two-team race becomes a six-team battle

A week ago, I wrote about the race for the Hockey East title becoming a two-team race. Not anymore.

1. Losses by BC, BU make race to finish interesting

Boston College and Boston University each looked ready for a battle to the finish for the Hockey East regular season title. But after losses for each last weekend, coming away without points in a weekend this late in the season has brought a number of teams back into the mix. Notre Dame and UMass Lowell each took four points to each climb within four points of BC and a single point of BU. Providence continues its roll and is a single point in back of the Irish and River Hawks. Vermont, after a split with New Hampshire, lost pace and, though still mathematically alive for the title, really will focus on trying to climb to fourth place for a first-round bye.

2. The Friars are the hottest team (and scariest opponent to face) in the league right now

After a 4-3 loss to Vermont on January 13, Providence’s season looked dire. The Friars sat at 1-6-2 in Hockey East. Sure there were a lot of games left, but the Friars were needing to find wins fast. They’ve found them. Nine straight victories – all in league play – raised the Friars to 10-6-2 and they are locked into a battle for a league title and a first-round bye. This weekend’s series at Notre Dame could go a long way to sorting out the top of the standings. But this turnaround, quite frankly, is remarkable.

3. Merrimack end of an ugly streak

Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy made a lot of good memories as a player at Boston College’s Conte Forum. He was a member of BC teams that won three Hockey East regular season title, a postseason championship and that reached a Frozen Four in 1990. All of the biggest games in that time (Hockey East finals, NCAA regionals) were all played in Conte Forum.

Since becoming coach at Merrimack, though, you wouldn’t blame Dennehy for not wanting to visit his alma mater. Before Friday, his Warriors hadn’t won a game in his coaching tenure at the Heights – nor in the eight years prior – running Merrimack’s futile streak at BC to 20 seasons.

That ended on Friday thanks to a 6-3 victory paced by Hampus Gustafsson’s five-point (three goals, two assists) game. The win makes Merrimack 3-0-1 against BC and Boston University this season and has to give this team confidence heading to the postseason.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Rankings are a joke. It’s just a popularity contest.

    Just look at the pairwise.

    A lot of ranked teams are low in the Pairwise.

  2. Seriously Jim, nothing about the UML win over BU except that BU lost? I know you were there. It was a game certainly deserving of a paragraph here.

      • Except that he’s an on air radio analyst for UML games with Bob Ellis. It’s almost like he goes out of his way to not be labelled a UML homer.

        • This is ludicrous. The Monday morning wrap-up is a super-short piece that will, by definition, leave out almost every team every week. Jim and I cover UML plenty. And to show how utterly ridiculous your complaint is, check out what the featured team was in Friday night’s Hockey East roundup. And which team was featured in the Saturday night roundup. (See the “Recaps tab up top.) Oops. Lowell both nights. Yeah, they’re really getting screwed for coverage.

          • No darlings but the first part in this article literally says “Losses by BC, BU make race to finish interesting” to which you easily could have said “Wins by UML, Merrimack make race to finish interesting”.

          • But that misses the point. The point was that going into this past weekend, BC and BU were effectively in a two-team race for first, which is exactly what Jim had written a week ago. They were in control, but their losses opened up the door for the other teams. (And Merrimack isn’t one of them, so mentioning the Warriors would have made no sense.) The only sensible way to write that topic was the way Jim did it.

          • Ludicrous? Sensitive, much Dave? Almost cute that you’re sticking up for your buddy, Jim, too. It’s Hockey Dave, my comment was the off ice equivalent of a D-man’s quick cross check to a guy posting up in front of my goalie. Lighten up, Francis.

          • You criticize everyone — I believe a few weeks ago you even said Bazin had lost credibility — and then when someone points out that your critique makes no sense, you resort to name-calling.

          • My point was, that my comment was innocuous. You can spin it however your sensitive self wants. Besides, Jim essentially covered that same thought twice. First in saying BC lost in thought 1, then again in the paragraph about MC. The stories I thought were deserving (3 things) were: 1. MC jobbing BC, UML beating BU, and PC being a badass.

          • “Never said he wasn’t a great coach. I said his credibility is suspect at the moment and, Well, your comment is easy to say if you’ve been watching in the stats and maybe a few games here and there, but I see them on a weekly basis and I see the little things that have me worried, like; inconsistent effort, freelance play from individuals, disregard for team philosophy.”

            My comment verbatim, no name calling. Try again, Dave. Also, if you don’t like criticism, stop reading the comments…directed at someone else.

          • Yeah, saw them both. Maybe you missed my up vote of Bob Neal’s comment. I thought he succinctly summed up my thoughts, so I up-voted and didn’t comment. Saturday, I commented.

          • As a huge Lowell fan I cannot complain about the USCHO coverage of the Riverhawks. They get plenty of ink. Great win over BU. BC series looms big.

  3. I don’t know if I’d call Providence’s recent winning streak “remarkable”. Like every other team they lost a lot of players to graduation and early departures and it took a while for the young team to mesh. In my opinion having relatively few injuries, hard work, combined with great coaching and increased shot production has propelled their recent success.

    • I’ll beg to disagree. Nine straights wins, and all of them in the league, is remarkable if for no other reason than I don’t think anyone else has done it this year. That, by definition, is remarkable.

      • That’s the trouble with the printed word, no intonation. I took Jim’s use of remarkable as sarcasm and to paraphrase the immortal words of David Puddy ” hey man, gotta support the team”!

      • Agreed Dave. They looked good against my Lowell team. There seems to be 6 very good HE teams. Home ice and a bye is the #1 thing to try for. The last 2 weekends will be interesting.

  4. .
    i concord with the picks – you have my blessing. ;)

    BUT here is hoping BSU wins none of the two games.

    GO TECH GOLD!
    .

  5. Mankato is an interesting team. Their ranking seems to have hit a ceiling because of the weaker strength of schedule most of the season but they’ve obviously shown they can beat some pretty good teams like St Cloud and Duluth too. Hard to pinpoint if they are a true national contender but for now I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    • .
      no reason to see them not make it into the second round of the tourney;

      West Regional (Sioux Falls):
      14 Northeastern vs. 4 Denver
      12 North Dakota vs. 5 Minnesota State

      and they would be competitive playing either of the other ones.

      of all these teams, MNSU has been the most consistent.

      GO TECH GOLD!
      .

  6. Say, Jack… if you thought Ferris would sweep, why would you post scores that would indicate a split?
    “I think Ferris will get a sweep. Mavericks 6-2, Bulldogs 4-3”.

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