It’s difficult to say what was most surprising about this past weekend in Hockey East. Was it the Maine Black Bears sweeping Boston College and taking four points from the (at the time) No. 3 nationally-ranked Eagles (now No. 5)? Or was it that Maine outscored BC 7-2 during the sweep?
1. University of New Hampshire (15-6-2, 10-5-1 HEA)
The Wildcats split the weekend series with Merrimack College. Friday night, New Hampshire gave goaltender Casey DeSmith the night off and instead opted to start Jeff Wyer. The start was the junior goaltender’s first of the season, but he ended up with the loss, as the Wildcats fell to the Warriors, 3-2. Saturday night with, starting net-minder, DeSmith back between the pipes the schools squared off at the Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, NH. In front of 6,605 screaming Hockey East fans, Merrimack couldn’t match New Hampshire’s scoring and fell to Wildcats, 6-2. New Hampshire currently sits second in the Hockey East standings, just two points behind Boston College.
2. University of Massachusetts-Lowell (14-7-2, 8-6-2 HEA)
Coming into this past weekend, the River Hawks of UMass-Lowell had active 9 game win streak. UMass-Lowell didn’t play their best hockey in the home and home series with Northeastern this weekend. After two third period comebacks, the River Hawks skated out of the weekend with three points and extended their unbeaten streak to eleven (10-0-1). Friday night, Derek Arnold netted the game equalizer at 15:18 in the third to send the two schools to overtime. Neither team could tally the game winner and the game ended in a 4-4 tie. Saturday night in front of a record crowd of 7,013 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, UMass-Lowell came back from a three goal deficit to win 5-4 in OT on a Christian Folin one-timer.
3. Boston College (14-7-2, 11-6-1 HEA)
Seeing the Boston College Eagles sitting in third in the Hockey East Power Rankings, is a tough sight. During the last five games, the Eagles are 1-4-0 and 2-5-1 over the past eight. Coming into the weekend series at home against the Maine Black Bears, the Eagles had only lost once this season at Conte Forum. The Black Bears came to town and took four points from the Eagles in one of the most shocking series of the 2012-13 season. Like I stated earlier, the Eagles not only got swept by the Black Bears at home this weekend, they were outscored, 7-2. This is only a setback, Boston College will recover and go on a run.
4. Boston University (13-9-1, 10-6-1 HEA)
The Terriers of Boston University stumbled a bit with back-to-back losses against Northeastern and UMass-Lowell. Boston University faced the Providence College Friars in a home and home series this weekend and seem to have recovered nicely, taking 3 points from the Friars. Friday night, the Terriers beat the Friars on the road, 3-2. Saturday night the Terriers returned home, only to skate to a 3-3 tie. Boston University heads to Amherst, Friday, in the school’s only conference game this weekend.
5. Merrimack College (10-10-5, 8-6-2 HEA)
After a rough start to the season, the Merrimack College Warriors seem to have turned things around, taking points in four of the teams last five games. Friday night at home, the Warriors took two more points, beating New Hampshire, 3-2. Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Center was a different story. Sam Marotta gave up a career-high six goals on Saturday, in the team’s 6-2 loss. Mike Collins scored 2 goals and an assist on Friday night, earning him co-player of the week honors.
6. Providence College (10-10-4, 8-6-3 HEA)
During the preseason I had Providence sitting tied for third in Hockey East. Currently sitting in fourth, two points behind Boston University, the Friars do have a chance to finish strong. Providence played Boston University twice this past weekend and only took one point from the series. In January, no other goaltender in Hockey East has faced the number of shots that Providence’s Jon Gillies has faced, 222. With the number of shots being fired at him, there is no wonder he gave up back-to-back three goal games. The Friars are only 3-4-1 in the month of January.
7. University of Massachusetts (9-12-2, 6-9-1 HEA)
Massachusetts headed up to northern Vermont this past weekend for a two game series against the Vermont Catamounts. Friday night, the Minutemen beat the Catamounts, 3-2. Saturday night the teams swapped scores as UMass fell to Vermont, 3-2. Massachusetts is 2-3-0 in the schools last five games.
8. University of Maine (7-14-4, 3-9-4 HEA)
It has been 20 years since the Maine Black Bears went into Chestnut Hill and swept Boston College. Martin Ouellette stopped 58 of 60 shots over the weekend. This weekend also marks the first time this season the Black Bears have won back-to-back conference games. Maine has taken points in three of the teams last four games. Maine currently sits last in Hockey East, but only three points out of seventh. The playoffs, which once seemed out-of-reach, now seems obtainable for the Black Bears.
9. University of Vermont (7-13-4, 4-9-4 HEA)
Vermont welcomed the Minutemen of Massachusetts into the Gutterson Field House this past weekend. A weekend series split with Massachusetts saw the Catamounts five-game losing streak come to an end. Vermont heads to Chestnut Hill this weekend to face a struggling Boston College team.
10. Northeastern University (7-12-3, 4-10-3 HEA)
The Huskies seemed to have caught the UMass-Lowell River Hawks in a moment of weakness. Northeastern was only five minutes away from coming out victorious on Friday night, only to give up the lead and end in a 4-4 tie. Saturday night, Northeastern saw themselves with a 4-1 lead in the third period. After 3 straight goals from the River Hawks, the two teams headed to OT. Once again the Huskies failed to hold the lead, only this time UMass-Lowell scored in OT, sending Northeastern home with the loss. Northeastern welcomes the 4th ranked school in the nation, New Hampshire, to Matthews for the teams only conference game this weekend.