These are the three things I think I learned this week.
1. The favorites all swept.
The favorites didn’t just win, they swept. Top-seeded Boston College defeated tenth-seeded Merrimack, 1-0 and 4-3 (OT). No. 2 Northeastern took care of business against No. 8 Massachusetts, 3-2 and 7-2. No. 3 Providence edged Maine, 4-3 and 3-2. And fourth-seeded Boston University squeaked past fifth-seeded Connecticut, 5-4 (OT) and 2-1.
This sets up two great semifinal matchups. In the early game at 5 p.m., Boston College hosts Boston University. The rivalry between these two schools always adds spice to their games, as if it’s needed in this case. And Northeastern vs. Providence in the late game features Hockey East’s top two schools in the PairWise.
2. The wins were by the skin of their teeth (except once).
In case you didn’t notice, those four sweeps were not without considerable drama. All but Northeastern’s Saturday night contest against UMass (a 7-2 shellacking) were one-goal games. Two went to overtime: BU over UConn on Friday and BC over Merrimack on Saturday.
So while the teams advancing to the Garden included no shockers, the four underdogs whose seasons ended fought tooth-and-nail. There was lots of great action to see.
3. Northeastern and Providence solidify their NCAA bid chances. BC squeaks into the PairWise bubble. Briefly.
With the sweeps, Northeastern moved to seventh in the PairWise and Providence to a tie for eighth. Check out Jason Moy’s Bracketology for the definitive word, but it would seem that the loser of the semifinal matchup between these two teams is still in great shape, if not mathematically certain, to make the tournament.
BC briefly rose to a tie for 14th on Saturday night after it completed its sweep, but later action out West that night knocked the Eagles down to a tie for 15th. Sunday action gave them 15th for themselves, but they likely still need to win the Hockey East tournament to earn an NCAA berth.