Boston University’s much-needed sweep puts Terriers back in the Hockey East race

I had some serious concern that Boston University would even be in position to get a first-round bye heading into this weekend. That’s changed quickly and leads the three things I learned this weekend.

1. Sweep of Merrimack comes at perfect time for BU

When combined with some idle teams and some timely ties and losses for the teams around the Terriers in the Hockey East standings, BU’s sweep of Merrimack this weekend was well timed.

Not only does it catapult BU into a tie with Providence for third, it give them some breathing room over sixth-place Maine as the Terriers head west to face a pesky Arizona State team in non-league games this weekend.

Why do I mentioned Maine? With the top five teams getting a first-round bye this year (up from four last season before Notre Dame’s departure), it’s important to keep an eye on that 5-6 cliff.

With 18 games played, BU spots a number of games in hand to most of the remainder of the league, so getting early position is very much preferred for Terrier Nation.

2. Hat tricks galore paced offenses

A hat trick often almost guarantees a player a weekly award from the league. But the folks at the Hockey East headquarters in Wakefield will have some tough decisions on Monday.

BU’s Dante Fabbro had the first Terriers trick by a D man on the road in 40 years. Northeastern’s Nolan Stevens potted a hat trick that put him over the 100-career-point plateau. And Vermont’s Liam Coughlin potted three against UMass Lowell to help his Catamounts get a much needed win on Saturday.

3. River Hawks struggling to learn that chasing the game is no way to go about business

On Friday, UMass Lowell rallied from two-goals down on the road to earn a 3-2 overtime win at Vermont.

The Catamounts entered the weekend with just a single league win, battled hard but couldn’t close out the defending Hockey East champs.

You might think the River Hawks would learn a lesson and come out with more intensity on Saturday. Instead they fell behind 4-0 early to the Cats. And even though they rallied to 4-3, another comeback wasn’t happening and the result was a 6-3 loss.

It seems clear the River Hawks will need to play a more complete game if they want a chance to play in their sixth straight Hockey East title game.