Hockey East Power Rankings: 11/23/11

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

Is there a growing chasm between the top and bottom halves of Hockey East? It’s starting to look that way, although UNH is still knocking on the top half’s door despite losing its last two games.

1. Merrimack (8-0-1, 6-0-1 HE) — Last week: 1

The Warriors didn’t play this weekend, meaning they’re still the only undefeated team in the country and still the top team in Hockey East. Led by Joe Cannata’s conference-best .940 save percentage, Merrimack continues to lead the nation with just 1.33 goals against per game. The Warriors host winless Alabama-Huntsville tonight.

2. Boston College (9-4-0, 7-2-0 HE) — Last week: 2

The Eagles suffered a heartbreaking loss at Notre Dame on Friday when Bryan Rust scored with 1.1 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Irish the 3-2 win. BC has now lost three of its last four games and has dropped back-to-back games for the first time in two years. The Eagles still lead the league in offense and rank second in defense, though.

3. Boston University (6-4-1, 5-3-1 HE) — Last week: 5

The Terriers have now won three in a row after beating Vermont 4-3 on Friday and UNH 4-1 on Saturday. They have scored four or more goals in all three of those wins and are now tied for second in the conference in offense. Led by Matt Nieto’s 15 points, BU has five players averaging a point per game or better, more than any other Hockey East team.

4. Massachusetts-Lowell (6-4-0, 4-3-0 HE) — Last week: 4

The River Hawks’ three-game winning streak came to an end with a disappointing 5-0 loss at UNH on Friday, but they bounced back with a resounding 4-0 win over UMass on Saturday. Doug Carr picked up his first career shutout Saturday and is now third in the conference with a .923 save percentage.

5. Providence (6-4-1, 4-3-0 HE) — Last week: 3

The Friars’ four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt with a 5-2 loss to Northeastern on Friday. While Tim Schaller was held without a goal for the first time in five games, Ross Mauermann tallied a goal and assist and now leads all Hockey East freshmen with 12 points on four goals and eight assists.

6. New Hampshire (5-6-2, 4-4-1 HE) — Last week: 6

The Wildcats extended their unbeaten streak to seven games with a 5-0 win over Lowell on Friday, but things have gone downhill since. They lost 4-1 to BU the following night and then blew a 4-0 lead en route to a 7-6 loss to Harvard on Tuesday. UNH now ranks ninth in the league in defense, and Matt Di Girolamo’s save percentage has dropped to .885.

7. Northeastern (3-7-2, 3-7-2 HE) — Last week: 9

The Huskies got a pair of much-needed wins when they beat Providence 5-2 on Friday and Vermont 4-1 on Saturday. That snapped a seven-game winless stretch that was full of narrow defeats, including overtime losses to BC and Merrimack and a last-minute regulation loss to BC. Chris Rawlings’ .927 save percentage trails only Cannata.

8. Maine (3-6-2, 3-5-1 HE) — Last week: 8

The Black Bears tied UMass 2-2 in their only game of the weekend. For the second game in a row, they failed to get a win after jumping out to a 2-0 lead. Maine is now winless in its last five and ranks in the bottom four of Hockey East in both offense and defense. The Black Bears also rank dead last with a minus-9 special teams net.

9. Massachusetts (4-6-3, 2-6-3 HE) — Last week: 7

After the tie against Maine, the Minutemen suffered a lopsided loss to Lowell on Saturday and then dropped a 2-1 decision to cellar-dwelling Vermont on Tuesday. UMass’ offense, which ranked second in the league entering the weekend, suddenly has just 35 shots in its last two games combined.

10. Vermont (2-7-1, 1-6-1 HE) — Last week: 10

The Catamounts finally got their first conference win with Tuesday’s victory over UMass. They had gone seven games without a win prior to that, including a pair of losses to BU and Northeastern over the weekend. Vermont still ranks last in Hockey East in offense, defense and penalty killing, though.

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