Hockey East Power Rankings: 2/22/12

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

For the second time this season, a disturbing off-the-ice incident at Boston University took the spotlight away from some great hockey on the ice. This continues to be arguably the greatest regular-season title race in league history. The narrowest gap between first and fifth was six points in 2005-06. Right now, the top five are separated by just five points. This week’s power rankings feature a new No. 1, and only one of the top seven teams is in the same spot as last week.

1. Boston College (21-10-1, 15-7-1 HE) — Last week: 2

The Eagles return to the top spot for the first time since Jan. 11 after beating Merrimack 4-2 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday. BC has now won seven straight, and Friday marked Jerry York’s 900th career victory. Johnny Gaudreau registered a goal and two assists on the weekend and now has five goals and five assists in his last five games. He is second among Hockey East freshmen with 14 goals and 28 points on the season.

2. Massachusetts-Lowell (20-9-0, 15-8-0 HE) — Last week: 1

Lowell’s three-week run atop these rankings comes to an end, but more because of what BC did than anything. The River Hawks split with BU, losing 7-4 on Friday and winning 4-2 on Saturday. Doug Carr gave up a season-high six goals on Friday and got pulled for the first time all year, but he bounced back by stopping 39 of 41 shots on Saturday. Scott Wilson, Riley Wetmore and Chad Ruhwedel all had three points on the weekend.

3. Boston University (18-11-1, 14-8-1 HE) — Last week: 4

BU’s offense came alive in a 7-4 win at Lowell on Friday, but the Terriers followed that up with a 4-2 loss the next night, their fourth straight home loss. BU’s fourth line of Ross Gaudet, Ryan Santana and Yasin Cisse provided some previously-absent scoring depth with three goals and four assists on the weekend. The Terriers’ off-ice issues continued on Sunday morning when Max Nicastro was arrested on two charges of rape and suspended indefinitely.

4. Maine (18-10-3, 13-9-2 HE) — Last week: 3

The Black Bears beat UMass 7-3 on Friday, but then lost 4-1 on Saturday. Considering that everyone else in the race for the regular-season title has a game in hand on them, the Black Bears really couldn’t afford to give away two points at home against a team in the bottom half of the standings. Maine now sits in fourth with 28 points, three back of first-place BC. Finishing first seems improbable at this point.

5. Merrimack (15-9-6, 11-8-4 HE) — Last week: 5

The Warriors have not only fallen out of serious contention for the regular-season title, but they’re now in jeopardy of missing NCAAs if they don’t finish strong. They got swept by BC over the weekend and are now 1-4-1 in their last six. They’re five points out of first and two points out of home ice, and they’ve dropped to 16th in the PairWise. The biggest problem has been offense — they’ve averaged 1.50 goals per game over their last six.

6. Providence (12-14-4, 10-10-3 HE) — Last week: 7

The Friars picked up a pair of ties at Northeastern this weekend and are now unbeaten in their last four. Leading goal-scorer Tim Schaller tallied the lone marker in Friday’s 1-1 tie, but later left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not play in Saturday’s 2-2 contest. It is unclear when he’ll be back. Providence now sits in sixth with a one-point edge over UNH and a game in hand.

7. New Hampshire (13-15-3, 10-12-2 HE) — Last week: 6

The Wildcats’ four-game unbeaten streak came to an end with a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss to Vermont on Friday, but they rebounded with a 3-1 win Saturday. After recording an assist on the weekend, leading scorer Stevie Moses now has just three points in his last seven games. Friday marked just the third time in 14 starts that Casey DeSmith has allowed more than three goals.

8. Massachusetts (11-14-5, 7-12-4 HE) — Last week: 8

The Minutemen picked up a big split at Maine to remain tied with Northeastern for the eighth and final playoff spot. More importantly, they won while the Huskies tied, evening up the second tiebreaker (league wins). The first is head-to-head, where the two went 1-1-1. Michael Pereira had two goals on the weekend and now has eight in his last six games, while leading scorer T.J. Syner has gone without a point in five of his last seven.

9. Northeastern (11-14-5, 7-12-4 HE) — Last week: 9

Northeastern tied Providence 1-1 on Friday and 2-2 on Saturday and is now winless in its last five. Like Merrimack, the Huskies’ biggest problem has been offense, as they’re averaging just 1.60 goals per game over those last five. Freshman Ludwig Karlsson, the team’s leading scorer, has just two points in his last seven games. Chris Rawlings, who struggled in his previous two starts, stopped 69 of the 72 shots he faced this weekend.

10. Vermont (6-23-1, 3-19-1 HE) — Last week: 10

The Catamounts snapped their seven-game losing streak when Drew MacKenzie scored in overtime to give them a 4-3 win at UNH on Friday. Unfortunately for them, they lost the next night and are now eliminated from playoff competition. Friday marked just the second time since the start of January that Vermont has scored more than three goals in a game.

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