Conference play is back in full swing this weekend, so let’s see how everyone’s shaping up as the stretch run begins. I didn’t have time to write up a post last week (apologies if that ruined your week), but I did tweet out my rankings. So the “Last week” actually does refer to last week and not pre-break.
1. New Hampshire (13-3-2, 8-2-1 HE) — Last week: 1
After a tough Ledyard Bank Classic that saw them lose to Dartmouth and squeak by Bemidji State in overtime, the Wildcats bounced back with a 5-2 win over Rensselaer on Saturday. Kevin Goumas had his 10-game point streak snapped against Dartmouth, but still leads Hockey East with 18 assists and 26 points. Fourth-liners Dan Correale and Jay Camper each had two points against RPI.
2. Boston College (12-3-2, 9-2-1 HE) — Last week: 2
Coming off an 8-1 beatdown at the hands of Minnesota, the Eagles got outshot 48-22 by Yale on Friday but managed to force a 3-3 tie. BC is now 2-2-2 in its last six, with one of those wins coming against lowly Alabama-Huntsville. Johnny Gaudreau’s return from World Juniors will help the offense, but the bigger questions right now are on defense, where the Eagles are trying to make up for the loss of Patch Alber.
3. Boston University (11-6-0, 8-4-0 HE) — Last week: 3
Like the two teams above them, the Terriers haven’t had the greatest winter break. After getting spanked by Denver, they needed a third-period comeback and an overtime goal from Cason Hohmann to beat RPI on Friday. Hohmann also had an assist in the game and now ranks seventh in the league with 18 points. On the bright side, this year’s winter break was still infinitely better than last year’s.
4. Massachusetts-Lowell (9-7-1, 3-6-1 HE) — Last week: 6
The River Hawks have now won five in a row after sweeping Clarkson over the weekend. They’re currently eighth in the conference standings, but their 6-1-0 record out of conference has them sitting 14th in the Pairwise. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 of 26 shots in Friday’s win and is now 4-0-0 in his last four starts. He has a .981 save percentage in those starts and has clearly forced a platoon with Doug Carr.
5. Massachusetts (7-9-2, 4-6-1 HE) — Last week: 5
The Minutemen had the weekend off, so they stay at five. Over break, they beat Bemidji State and Dartmouth to win the Ledyard Bank Classic. Branden Gracel had four points in that tournament and is now tied for eighth in the conference with 17 points on the season.
6. Providence (7-8-3, 5-4-2 HE) — Last week: 4
The Friars got swept by Minnesota State over the weekend, dropping them to 0-3-2 in their last five games. Perhaps unsurprisingly, PC’s goaltending turned into a weak spot with Jon Gillies off at World Juniors, as Russ Stein surrendered four goals in each of his three starts. His defense didn’t really help him much, though — the Friars allowed at least 32 shots on goal in all three games.
7. Merrimack (7-8-4, 5-4-1 HE) — Last week: 8
The Warriors bounced back from a tough Catamount Cup by going back to Burlington and beating Vermont 4-1 on Saturday. Mike Collins, Brian Christie and Brendan Ellis each recorded two points in the win, while Sam Marotta stopped 23 of 24 shots. The Warriors are just one point back of a home ice spot with a game in hand on Providence, but their 2-4-3 record out of conference makes their road to NCAAs much tougher.
8. Vermont (6-9-4, 3-6-4 HE) — Last week: 7
The Catamounts’ four-game unbeaten streak came to an end with Saturday’s loss to Merrimack. Brody Hoffman has cooled off considerably over the last month, as he has an .891 save percentage over his last six games. UVM will need to be better at both ends of the ice moving forward — it currently ranks ninth in the league in both offense and defense.
9. Maine (5-12-2, 1-7-2 HE) — Last week: 10
The Black Bears still have a lot of work to do if they hope to make the playoffs, but believe it or not, they have a 4-3-2 record since Nov. 10. They won the Florida College Classic over break, then split a series with Mercyhurst this past weekend. Martin Ouellette bounced back from getting pulled against Cornell by stopping 25 of 26 shots in Friday’s win.
10. Northeastern (6-10-1, 3-8-1 HE) — Last week: 9
The Huskies drop to the bottom after losing 6-3 to Bentley at home on Saturday. That dropped them to 2-6-0 in their last eight. In fact, they have just two wins since Oct. 13 against teams not named Alabama-Huntsville. They still have a better record than Maine and are still in better position standings-wise, but it’s hard to make an argument for them being the better team right now.