Maine, Connecticut place stakes in ground in Hockey East race

Miles Gendron (UConn - 10), Alexander Payusov (UConn - 19) and Karl El-Mir (UConn - 16) celebrate Payusov's goal that tied the game at 2 in the third. (2017 Melissa Wade)
A weekend sweep of New Hampshire puts UConn in solid position heading into the final month of the regular season (photo: Melissa Wade)

Maine and Connecticut each pulled off sweeps this weekend, allowing each to move up the standings with just four weekend left in the regular season.

1. Maine in top 4 race; UConn solidifies position in middle of standings

Maine went on the road to win two at Massachusetts. Upon swept its two-game series with New Hampshire. Now suddenly each of those teams are well positioned for the stretch run.

The Black Bears are in the best position, just a single point out of fourth place with a game in hand with the two teams they are chasing – Boston University and UMass Lowell.

Connecticut’s sweep was also well timed given that the seventh-place Huskies have the most games played in Hockey East. They will play just single league games in each of the final four weeks, but they now have a six-point cushion over their closest chasers.

2. Providence takes a key three points from a much-hyped series with Northeastern

Though neither Providence nor Northeastern entered last weekend in first place, the series was considered one of the heavyweight battles that preview playoff intensity.

The two teams delivered, going to overtime both nights. But it was Providence that was the big winner, earning a tie and win to catapult from fifth to third place in Hockey East and sit just a single point second-place Northeastern.

Most importantly the Friars jumped up to ninth in the PairWise rankings, which ranks tops among Hockey East teams.

3. Boston University officially has a winning streak

The Terriers won their first two games of the season, but then couldn’t put together back-to-back wins to save their lives.

Well, don’t look now, but BU has a season-best four game winning streak and a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1), which is fourth-best in the country.

They earned a two-game road sweep of Arizona State winning in very different ways. A blow away 8-0 win on Friday was followed by a hard-fought 4-3 victory on Saturday to send the Terriers into the final month of the season red hot.