Hockey East Power Rankings: 1/4/12

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

Much like the teams themselves, my power rankings are back from break. There isn’t much movement at the top, although it’s worth noting that BC and Merrimack haven’t done a whole lot lately to distance themselves from the pack. There’s plenty of shuffling going on between the five and nine spots, though, as none of those teams are in the same place as they were before break.

1. Boston College (13-7-0, 9-4-0 HE) — Before break: 1

BC opened the second half with a 4-2 loss to Michigan in the first round of the Great Lakes Invitational, but bounced back with a 2-1 win over Michigan Tech in the consolation game. The Eagles are just 6-6-0 over the last two months, but they still rank in the top two in Hockey East in offense, defense and special teams net. After freshman Brian Billett had started four straight in net, junior Parker Milner got the start and win Friday.

2. Merrimack (11-3-3, 7-2-1 HE) — Before break: 2

Merrimack lost 3-1 to Union just before break, then started the second half with a 6-6 tie against St. Lawrence and 3-0 win over Holy Cross in the Ledyard Bank Classic. The Warriors finished December with a 2-3-2 record, but those are their only three losses of the season. Shawn Bates tallied two goals and three assists over the weekend and now has a five-game point streak. Merrimack continues to lead the country in defense with 1.88 goals against per game.

3. Massachusetts-Lowell (12-5-0, 7-4-0 HE) — Before break: 3

The River Hawks were the only good team in the UConn Hockey Classic, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they won it. They smoked RPI 7-2 in the first round before squeaking out a 4-3 overtime win against UConn in the championship. David Vallorani extended his point streak to six games with three goals (including the title-winner) and two assists in the tourney. Lowell is now 7-1-0 in its last eight and hasn’t allowed more than three goals in any of those games.

4. Boston University (10-6-1, 8-4-1 HE) — Before break: 4

BU struggled mightily in its first game without Corey Trivino and Charlie Coyle, falling 5-2 at Notre Dame on Saturday. Kieran Millan surrendered five goals for the second time in four games. The Terriers are still 7-2-0 in their last nine, but just 2-2-0 in their last four. They rank in the top half of Hockey East in offense, defense and special teams net, but it will be interesting to see if they continue to drop in any or all of those categories as they try to replace what were their top two centers.

5. Northeastern (8-7-3, 4-7-2 HE) — Before break: 6

The Huskies extended their unbeaten streak to eight games en route to winning the Mariucci Classic, as they tied Princeton 3-3 on Friday and beat Minnesota 3-2 on Saturday. They are now an incredible 4-0-0 this season in true road games at Michigan, Notre Dame and Minnesota. Chris Rawlings leads the conference in save percentage with a .931 mark, while Steve Quailer now has a nine-game point streak. The power play is still last in the league at an atrocious 9.8 percent.

6. Maine (8-7-2, 5-6-1 HE) — Before break: 7

The Black Bears took care of business in the Florida College Classic, beating Clarkson 6-1 in the first round and UMass 5-2 in the championship. They’re now 5-1-0 in their last six and have scored four or more goals in each of the wins, moving them up to third in Hockey East in offense. They went 5-for-14 on the power play in Florida, bringing their league-leading man advantage up to 26.2 percent. Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn, the league’s top two scorers, combined for 11 points in the tourney.

7. Providence (8-8-1, 6-4-0 HE) — Before break: 5

The Friars opened the second half with a 5-2 loss to Brown in the Mayor’s Cup, dropping them to 2-5-0 in their last seven. They still lead the conference in special teams net, but they’re now in the bottom half of the league in both offense and defense. Providence is one of just two teams — along with Merrimack — to not have anyone among the league’s top 25 scorers. Alex Beaudry has a sub-par .883 save percentage over his last seven starts.

8. Massachusetts (6-8-4, 2-6-3 HE) — Before break: 9

The Minutemen beat Cornell 5-2 in the first round of the Florida College Classic before falling to Maine by the same score in the championship. They’ve won two of their last three, but are 2-4-1 in their last seven. T.J. Syner has points in 16 of 18 games this year and ranks fourth in the league with 22 (9g, 13a) on the season, while Conor Sheary is right behind him with 20 (7g, 13a).

9. New Hampshire (6-10-2, 4-7-1 HE) — Before break: 8

Like Providence, the Wildcats started the second half with a 5-2 loss to Brown. They have now lost four in a row and six of their last seven, with the only win during that span coming against lowly Alabama-Huntsville. While UNH is fifth in the league in offense, it ranks ninth in defense with 3.50 goals against per game. Matt Di Girolamo, who was pulled Friday, has a cringe-worthy .859 save percentage in his last five starts.

10. Vermont (4-13-1, 1-9-1 HE) — Before break: 10

After losing 2-1 to St. Lawrence just before break and then opening the second half with a 5-3 loss to Lake Superior, the Catamounts snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Ferris State on Friday. They still have a long climb to get out of 10th, though. Vermont’s 2.39 goals per game are 0.67 fewer than ninth and its 4.06 goals against per game are 0.56 more than ninth.

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