Last weekend featured the series we’ve all been waiting for — UNH vs. BC. Although the split certainly wasn’t unexpected, the way the series played out was. The Eagles rolled to a 5-2 win on Friday, while the Wildcats outshot BC 39-23 in a 2-1 win on Saturday. In the end, that series didn’t change much about how I view the top of the conference. There’s still a clear top two, but the top spot could still go either way. Elsewhere in the conference, sweeps by Lowell over Vermont and Providence over UMass have helped solidify some other spots.
1. New Hampshire (14-4-2, 9-3-1 HE) — Last week: 1
Thanks to their bounce-back win on Saturday, the Wildcats hang onto the top spot. Kevin Goumas and John Henrion each had a goal and an assist in the series, while the third line of Dan Correale, Jay Camper and Matt Willows scored in both games. UNH went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and is now 63-for-67 (94.0%) on the season. One point of concern is that Casey DeSmith has an .886 save percentage since his school-record shutout streak came to an end back on Nov. 18.
2. Boston College (13-4-2, 10-3-1 HE) — Last week: 2
The Eagles’ big win on Friday certainly helped silence some of the talk about their recent struggles. Had they won or tied Saturday’s game, they would’ve moved back to the top of these rankings, but Henrion’s late goal prevented that from happening. Johnny Gaudreau registered a goal and two assists in his return to the lineup on Friday, while Pat Mullane scored twice. On Saturday, Michael Matheson picked up his second game misconduct in as many weekends.
3. Boston University (12-7-0, 9-4-0 HE) — Last week: 3
The Terriers suffered an inexcusable 6-5 come-from-ahead loss to Harvard on Wednesday, but bounced back with a 4-1 win over Merrimack on Friday. Matt Nieto and Danny O’Regan each tallied four points on the week, while Wade Megan notched three. Sean Maguire stopped 37 of 38 shots on Friday and is now 5-0-0 with a .966 save percentage over his last five starts. Matt O’Connor, meanwhile, gave up five-plus goals for the third time in his last four starts on Wednesday.
4. Massachusetts-Lowell (11-7-1, 5-6-1 HE) — Last week: 4
The River Hawks extended their winning streak to seven by sweeping Vermont, winning 4-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday. Scott Wilson had three goals and two assists in the series, while Joseph Pendenza, Ryan McGrath, Chad Ruhwedel and Christian Folin all had three points. Since starting the year with just one point in eight games, Wilson has posted 17 in the last 11. With his win on Friday, Connor Hellebuyck improved to 5-0-0 with a .969 save percentage in his last five starts.
5. Providence (9-8-3, 7-4-2 HE) — Last week: 6
The Friars ended a five-game winless skid by sweeping UMass, winning 5-4 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday. After surrendering four goals on 30 shots on Friday, Jon Gillies put together an incredible 44-save shutout on Saturday. Derek Army and Stefan Demopoulos scored two goals apiece on Friday, and Tim Schaller and Ross Mauermann each had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Kevin Hart suffered a knee injury on Saturday and is out indefinitely.
6. Merrimack (8-9-4, 6-5-1 HE) — Last week: 7
After losing 4-1 to BU on Friday, the Warriors bounced back with a 6-0 thrashing of Maine on Saturday. Friday ended a nine-game conference point streak for Mike Collins, but he came back with two goals and an assist on Saturday. Connor Toomey, Brendan Ellis and Kyle Bigos all had multipoint games on Saturday as well. On Friday, Bigos broke both the school and conference records for career penalty minutes.
7. Massachusetts (7-11-2, 4-8-1 HE) — Last week: 5
Any momentum the Minutemen generated by winning the Ledyard Bank Classic didn’t carry over into conference play. They got swept by Providence over the weekend and are now 2-5-0 in their last seven games. Kevin Boyle surrendered five goals on Friday and now has a paltry .837 save percentage over his last six starts. He looked like a true No. 1 early in the season, but now UMass is back to dealing with its all-too-familiar goaltending problems.
8. Vermont (6-11-4, 3-8-4 HE) — Last week: 8
The Catamounts have followed their four-game unbeaten streak to close out December with a three-game losing streak to start January. Brody Hoffman allowed eight goals on the weekend and now has an .876 save percentage over his last eight starts. The Catamounts gave Lowell 18 power plays on the weekend and killed just 12 of them. They’re now at a conference-worst 79.0 percent on the season.
9. Northeastern (6-10-2, 3-8-2 HE) — Last week: 10
The Huskies tied Maine 1-1 on Friday, but move back up to nine because of what the Black Bears did the next night. Kevin Roy scored NU’s lone goal and Chris Rawlings stopped 42 of 43 shots. Roy not only leads Hockey East freshmen in scoring, but he’s tied for sixth among all skaters.
10. Maine (5-13-3, 1-8-3 HE) — Last week: 9
The Black Bears’ stint at ninth was short-lived. After tying Northeastern on Friday, they got run out of the building by Merrimack on Saturday. Martin Ouellette stopped 31 of 32 shots on Friday, but then allowed four goals on 17 shots before getting pulled on Saturday. It marked the second time he’s been yanked in his last four starts.