Boston College hosts Minnesota Friday night before heading south for its first meeting with Providence this season.
The Eagles’ problems during their recent four-game losing streak received more attention than they probably deserved. BC lost games to teams looking like NCAA Tournament probables in Denver, Boston University and Harvard. The 1-0 defeat to Connecticut obviously wasn’t acceptable for the Eagles, but few clubs skate through a season without a bad loss or two.
Since those four games without a win, the Eagles have made relatively easy work of Michigan State, Massachusetts and Maine. It was a nice recovery for Jerry York’s team. But this weekend’s games present BC with two great chances to undo some of the damage done during that four-game drought.
While it’s not worth looking at the Pairwise just yet, a win over the Gophers on Friday is the type of factor that can undo any number of troubling losses. Additionally, Saturday’s game with the Friars is crucial for BC to get back in the race for the Hockey East regular season title.
BC has games in hand on every team ahead of it in the standings, including five games on first-place Vermont. Beyond the regular-season trophy, BC’s goal, at least, has to be to get into the league’s top for to avoid a preliminary round playoff series.
After this weekend’s games, BC has a home-and-home with New Hampshire and hosts Michigan to end the first half on Dec. 13. All three of these are very winnable games against inconsistent, albeit talented, clubs. BC should take at least two of those games without issue. However, the games this weekend are a bit more challenging. BC needs wins. They’ve recovered well in the last two weekends. Friday is a chance to build on that even more.
Nonconference weekend important for everyone
Saturday’s BC-Providence game is the lone Hockey East game of the weekend. Vermont visits Maine for a pair, but these games are not league matchups; UVM swept Maine in Burlington earlier this month in the two Hockey East games between the teams.
For the Hockey East teams off to strong starts, this non-league weekend is critical to either build on strong starts or undo some early problems.
UVM hasn’t been quite as strong away from home as it’s been at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Moreover, Maine looks like a plainly bad team. Losses, even at the Alfond, could be troubling for the Catamounts in terms of its Pairwise situation a few months from now.
The same is true for Boston University and Merrimack. The Terriers host Colgate on Saturday before heading to Dartmouth on Sunday. These are both important games for the Terriers, especially after Tuesday’s loss to Harvard.
Merrimack is really in the same boat. By season’s end, it’s likely Merrimack generally weak non-conference schedule could come back to haunt them, even if they continue to pick off points in league play. Clarkson is hardly a bad team. But it’s 5-5-4 record doesn’t put the Golden Knights in the upper echelon of the ECAC, never mind the country.
In January, Merrimack has non-conference games against Minnesota, two with Quinnipiac and a possible non-conference meet with UMass-Lowell at the Mariucci tournament. To this point, though, Merrimack’s non-conference schedule has been full of relatively week teams. The Warriors are 4-1-1 in these games, and they can only beat who they play. But picking up two wins against a Clarkson team is vital for the Warriors to offset some of the trouble a loss or two could do.
Notre Dame needs to recover
Hosting the Shillelagh Tournament this weekend, Notre Dame plays Union Friday night and either Ohio State or Western Michigan on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish are winless in their last three games. Hosting Union, even with the Dutchmen’s struggles in the last few weeks, won’t be an easy task for UND.
At 6-6-1, Notre Dame is still in pretty good shape to make some moves
in Hockey East and on the national stage. A pair of wins before heading to Amherst for two more winnable games against a bad UMass team would be a resounding end to an up-and-down first half. Additionally, it would give UND 10 wins heading into the break.
Obviously, there will still be plenty of work to do even if everything falls its way in these last two weeks. However, Notre Dame needs to start playing well more consistently and string together some wins ahead of the rigor of a second half that brings 14 Hockey East games after a holiday tournament in Florida.
Trevor Mingoia becoming a good scorer for Providence
Trevor Mingoia became eligible for Providence last season after transferring from Union.
Not much was known about the winger before he debuted. In 26 games, he finished with five goals and 10 assists.
This season, he’s scored five and added six assists in 12 games. He’s picked up four goals and three assists in his last four games.
These types of streaks are common, and it’s nearly impossible for players to score at the rate Mingoia has over the course of a whole season. Regardless, new faces becoming strong scorers for the Friars is huge given the relative offensive silence from Ross Mauermann and other PC players.
Mauermann is still without a goal in 12 games after scoring 19 last years. Meanwhile, junior Mark Jankowski has struggled with injuries has just one goal in eight games played.
In November, the Friars are 5-2-0. They’ve won most of these games due to Jon Gillies’ continued excellence and a general improvement in team defense. PC has allowed just six goals in seven games this month. They’ve only scored 13, however.
Mingoia and a few other pieces have given the Friars the goals they needed to win games. But others need to start pulling their weight.