A hat trick of surprising teams

Although there are a few downers that could be discussed (hello, New Hampshire), we’ll send out some holiday cheer by looking only at three surprising teams that had surprisingly good weekends.

1. Maine sweeps Quinnipiac! On the road!

Okay, so Quinnipiac isn’t the same team that two years ago went 32-4-7 and played in the national championship game, or isn’t even last year’s squad that went 23-15-2.

I get it. Even so, the Bobcats aren’t exactly chopped liver.

Maine followed the same recipe on Friday and Saturday nights, bending but not breaking in the first period, then powering home to the win in the third period. Goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 50 saves on the first night and followed that with 45 one night later for a jaw-dropping total of 95.

The Black Bears, who couldn’t win a road game to save their lives in recent years, are now 3-1-0 in away games.

Now that’s the way to head into the break.

2. Merrimack takes two!

If you’re a Hockey East homer like me, you expected the Warriors to defeat Army West Point on Friday. And they did.

But they didn’t stop there, toppling UNH on the road on Sunday in an important league game. Ironically, they won in the exact opposite fashion as Maine, jumping out to a 3-1 first-period lead, extending it to 4-1 in the second, then holding on in the third for the win.

Merrimack still has one more game to play before the break, on Saturday against Northeastern–the only Hockey East contest that remains–but this was a definite great beginning-of-the-end of the first semester.

3. UMass stuns Union!

Maybe we shouldn’t be stunned anymore. This is not your father’s Massachusetts Minutemen.

Even so, few expected them to go off to 19th ranked Union, and emerge with a win. In fact, many assumed the clock had struck midnight last Tuesday when Connecticut thumped them, 8-2.

Instead, UMass did what good teams do after a bad loss. The Minutemen dusted themselves off, and came back with a 2-1 win. They’ve now won four of their last five.

Yet another terrific finish to the first half.