Hockey East Power Rankings: 2/29/12

Posted by: Scott McLaughlin

Given that this upcoming weekend is the last of the regular season, this will be the final edition of Hockey East Power Rankings. From next week on, my focus will be on the postseason.

1. Boston College (23-10-1, 17-7-1 HE) — Last week: 1

The Eagles swept Providence with a 3-0 win Friday and 7-0 win Saturday, and have now won nine in a row. Barry Almeida led the way with a goal and four assists on the weekend, while Steven Whitney and Tommy Cross each registered a goal and three assists. Parker Milner stopped all 54 shots he faced to record his first two shutouts of the season. BC has clinched home ice in the quarterfinals and can clinch the regular-season title with three points against Vermont this weekend.

2. Boston University (20-11-1, 16-8-1 HE) — Last week: 3

After dealing with the fallout of Max Nicastro’s arrest all week, the Terriers went up to Vermont and swept the Catamounts. Sean Escobedo notched his first two goals of the season in Friday’s 5-0 win, while Alexx Privitera returned from a broken wrist to tally two points on the weekend, including the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win. BU has clinched home ice. It needs BC to get two points or fewer in order to have a shot at the regular-season title.

3. Massachusetts-Lowell (20-10-1, 15-9-1 HE) — Last week: 2

The River Hawks took just one point from Merrimack over the weekend, dropping them to 1-3-1 in their last five. They nearly ended up with no points, but Josh Holmstrom scored a late power-play goal to force a 2-2 tie Saturday. Lowell has allowed five or more goals in two of its last four games after having surrendered that many just twice in its first 27. The River Hawks can clinch home ice for the first time since 2002 by getting one point against Providence this weekend.

4. Merrimack (16-9-7, 12-8-5 HE) — Last week: 5

The Warriors picked up three big points against Lowell over the weekend, winning 5-2 on Friday and tying 2-2 on Saturday. Jeff Velleca led the way with two goals and two assists Friday, while Mike Collins scored both goals Saturday. The five goals Friday were particularly encouraging because Merrimack had scored just four in its previous four games combined. The Warriors can clinch home ice with three points against UMass this weekend.

5. Maine (19-11-3, 14-10-2 HE) — Last week: 4

Maine split at Northeastern this weekend, losing 4-2 on Friday and winning 7-1 on Saturday. Joey Diamond led the offense with two goals and four assists on the weekend, while Hobey hopeful Spencer Abbott contributed three goals and an assist. The Black Bears still lead Merrimack by one point for the fourth and final home-ice spot, but they no longer control their own destiny because they only have one game left, while the Warriors have two.

6. New Hampshire (14-16-3, 11-13-2 HE) — Last week: 7

UNH split at UMass, winning 4-3 on Friday before dropping a 4-2 decision Saturday. Kevin Goumas tallied a goal and four assists on the weekend, while Trevor van Riemsdyk scored twice and Casey DeSmith stopped 48 shots in Friday’s win. The Wildcats are now 5-2-1 in their last eight. They only have one game this weekend (at Maine) and are locked into either the sixth or seventh seed.

7. Providence (12-16-4, 10-12-3 HE) — Last week: 6

The Friars got outscored 10-0 by BC in a weekend sweep, marking the second time in the last six weeks they’ve been outscored by at least 10 goals in a weekend. They’ve now scored just three goals in their last four games, which not so coincidentally is the same amount of time leading goal-scorer Tim Schaller has been injured. The Friars are one point behind UNH for sixth with a game in hand. They can clinch a playoff spot with one point against Lowell this weekend.

8. Massachusetts (12-15-5, 8-13-4 HE) — Last week: 8

The Minutemen bounced back from a 4-3 loss on Friday to beat UNH 4-2 on Saturday and move back into a tie with Northeastern for the eighth and final playoff spot. Conor Sheary and Danny Hobbs each registered three points on the weekend. UMass and Northeastern are even in the first two tiebreakers (head-to-head record and wins in the league play). The third is record against the No. 1 seed, which UMass owns as long as BC hangs onto first.

9. Northeastern (12-15-5, 8-13-4 HE) — Last week: 9

The Huskies beat Maine 4-2 on Friday, but then got smoked 7-1 on Saturday. Justin Daniels, who had just one point in his previous seven games, notched a goal and two assists Friday. Meanwhile, Steve Quailer notched an assist in his first game back from a knee injury. The Huskies are now 1-4-2 in their last seven. In order to make the playoffs, they will most likely need to grab one more point than UMass this weekend, which won’t be an easy task since they’re facing BU.

10. Vermont (6-25-1, 3-21-1 HE) — Last week: 10

The Catamounts got swept by BU over the weekend and are now 1-10-0 in their last 11. They end the season with a pair of games at BC this weekend. No matter what happens, this will be the worst season for Vermont since 2001-02.

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