Only one more weekend, two games, left in the Hockey East regular season and there are four teams have the possibility of finishing in first place. Down on the bottom, three teams are fighting for the final playoff spot, while Northeastern’s season is just about over. This weekend will be one of the greatest weekends of college hockey this season. Who will finish on top? Who will miss the playoffs?
1. University of Massachusetts-Lowell (21-9-2, 15-8-2 HEA) - Last Week: 3
UMass-Lowell sits in sole possession of first place in Hockey East after win at Boston College on Tuesday and a weekend sweep of Merrimack College, this is the latest Lowell has sat in first in history. Connor Hellebuyck was outstanding in both games, shutting out the Warriors on Friday and allowing only one goal on Sunday. Hellebuyck has won a Division I era school record 13 straight games. Joseph Pendenza extended his point streak to eight games with three assists on the weekend. The River Hawks sit tied for fourth in the Pairwise rankings.
2. University of New Hampshire (18-8-6, 13-7-5 HEA) – Last Week: 2
New Hampshire has taken points in their last five games, although four of games have been against teams in the bottom three in Hockey East. Points are points and the Wildcats are playing better than most in Hockey East. Casey DeSmith stopped 60-of-62 shots this weekend, including a shutout win on Saturday night over Massachusetts. New Hampshire sits tied for fourth in the Pairwise with UMass-Lowell and Boston College.
3. Boston College (19-10-3, 14-9-2 HEA) – Last Week: 1
The Eagles lost to UMass-Lowell on Tuesday and Providence on Saturday with a win over Providence in between on Friday. The two losses are magnified due to the small amount of points separating the top teams. Boston College still has a chance to win the regular season, however they need some help from others as well. Michael Matheson had three points on Friday, while Steven Whitney had two points. Boston College is the third team tied for fourth in the Pairwise, along with UMass-Lowell and New Hampshire.
4. Providence College (14-11-7, 12-7-6 HEA) – Last Week: 5
The Friars split the weekend series with Boston College behind an outstanding performance from their net-minder, Jon Gillies. The rookie stopped 48-of-52 shots for Providence College over the weekend. The Friars sit tied for third in the Hockey East standings and have a rough road ahead. Providence College take on UMass-Lowell in a home-and-home series to finish off the season. Providence sits in 22nd in the Pairwise rankings.
5. Boston University (16-15-2, 13-10-2 HEA) – Last Week: 6
After a rough stretch for the Terriers, the team came out strong on Tuesday night and beat Merrimack College, 5-2. The Terriers split the weekend series with Vermont, however had a big win on Friday night. Sean Maguire stopped 49-of-50 shots fired by the Catamounts in the 3-1 victory. Boston University lost its hopes in winning the regular season title, but will make the playoffs and shoot for a Hockey East Championship. The Terriers sit in 17th in the Pairwise.
6. Merrimack College (12-10-3, 14-14-6 HEA) – Last Week: 4
Merrimack College is on a slide that is pushing them further out of tournament contention. The Warriors have now lost their last four games and haven’t won in five. Back-to-back losses against UMass-Lowell this weekend and only able to score a single goal proves they were just on a hot streak that came to an end. After this week, Merrimack now sits in sixth place in the Hockey East standings and 31st in the Pairwise.
7. University of Vermont (11-16-5, 8-12-5 HEA) – Last Week: 7
Vermont looks to be on the verge of making the playoffs this season. The Catamounts split the weekend series with Boston University. Vermont has now taken points in six of the last nines games, going 5-3-1. The Catamounts are playing better hockey than the teams below them in the standings, but have a tough competition in the form of Boston College this weekend.
8. University of Maine (10-17-7, 6-12-7 HEA) – Last Week: 9
Maine has comeback from the basement to sit on the edge of the playoff picture. The Black Bears took three points this weekend from last place Northeastern. Maine beat Northeastern on Friday, however skated to a 4-4 tie on Saturday. The last weekend of the season will determine wether or not the Black Bears will be playing hockey past the weekend.
9. University of Massachusetts (11-18-3, 8-15-2 HEA) – Last Week: 8
Massachusetts took one point from top contender New Hampshire this weekend, however they sit right outside the final playoff spot in Hockey East. The Minutemen will need some wins this weekend, as well as help from other teams, in order to get into the final spot for the Hockey East playoffs.
10. Northeastern University (9-19-4, 5-16-4 HEA) – Last Week: 10
The Huskies are down and out. Northeastern University will finish their season this coming weekend with two games against Boston University. The huskies are five points out of the final playoff spot with only four points up for grabs this weekend. Northeastern is the only team with nothing to play for this weekend, but pride.
Justin Soderberg is a Hockey East writer for InsideHockey.com. Follow him on Twitter, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. In addition, Justin covers the UMass-Lowell River Hawks at viewfrom123.com.