All 12 Hockey East teams are in action this weekend with four playing home-and-home series in the league standings. Let’s take a look around the league with 12 thoughts for 12 teams …
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The first full weekend for Big Ten hockey saw Michigan open its season against Mercyhurst. The Wolverines swept the Lakers and scored six goals on Friday. Meanwhile Minnesota’s struggles continued, and the Gophers are now 0-3 after a series sweep by Minnesota-Duluth.
The Buckeyes are 0-4 on the season after dropping two series to in-state rivals Bowling Green and Miami. Penn State split its series with Notre Dame, while Michigan State was swept by Denver.
Wisconsin’s woes continued thanks to a road sweep in Boston, although there were a couple of positives from the losses. The Badgers have some talent, but they’re too inexperienced and reliant on underclassmen. Still, this isn’t last year’s Badger team.
It’s early in the season, but so far Kyle Connor is leading the Wolverines in scoring. He has four points through two games, including three goals. And Michigan is sixth in the country with an average of 4.50 goals per game.
While it’s still early in the season, it looks like this will be another year of non-conference struggles for the Big Ten. Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State are the only teams with wins.
(After the jump: Matt Jurusik will be Wisconsin’s starter, a new basement team for the Big Ten and it’s going to be a tough season for Minnesota.)
The results around Hockey East on opening weekend where, in a word, interesting. UMass swept Colorado College, Boston College and Boston University both suffered losses in the Capital Region while Providence impressed at Miami, Lowell beat a good RPI team and Maine picked up two ties in the IceBreaker, including one against North Dakota.
It’s dangerous to make any assumptions about a team — good or bad — based on one or two games, but here goes nothing …
In what very could go down as one of the most important weeks of the season for ECAC teams, league teams went 9-2-1 in non-conference play. Union and RPI had the most impressive wins of the week with victories over Boston University and Boston College, respectively. Those wins will be huge for the pairwise boost in the future, as both will probably be near the top come the end of the season. The league schedule will kick off in two weeks, as Harvard and Dartmouth will kickoff the slate with a pair on Halloween weekend. I wasn’t going to write this week, but there is a point I wanted to get across that is hardly league related but it is. Without much ado, here are my thoughts of the week. (more…)
BOSTON — You hardly see a National Hockey League player cry after a crushing loss. Last night, after a 4-3 loss to Providence in the national championship game, there wasn’t a dry eye in the Boston University dressing room.
That’s because in college hockey, at places like Boston University and everywhere else, you’re playing for something bigger than you, and you know it.
Players like Cason Hohmann, Evan Rodrigues and Anthony Moccia might play hockey beyond this season, but it will never be the same. Never.
In a blog post earlier this week on the website for The Lowell Sun, which covers UMass Lowell, a writer admitted that he didn’t “know squat” about the Pairwise. That’s fine. Unless you’re a college hockey diehard, you probably wouldn’t know the difference between the Pairwise and a pair a shoes.
But that didn’t stop the newspaper from publishing a front-page column on Tuesday, where the lede was “The UMass Lowell hockey team got screwed,” and calling the River Hawks “victims of a computer” in its headline.
Before I sat down to write this blog post, I asked my laptop if it had any bias against any particular college hockey programs. It didn’t answer me.
News broke on Thursday that undrafted free agent Frank Vatrano will forego his final two seasons of eligibility at Massachusetts, and has signed an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins.
At first the news took me by surprise. It’s not that Vatrano, who scored 18 goals and amassed 28 points in his first full season in college hockey, wasn’t talented enough to take his game to the next level. Far from it, in fact. But I never gave much thought to Vatrano leaving UMass after one season, especially not after essentially sitting out two years in order to get there.
For the past few weeks, it seems like every player or coach I’ve spoken to has brought up the importance of scoring first. How important is it, though?
Truth is, it’s pretty important.
Across the nation this season, the team that has scored first has won almost 70 percent of the time (69.8%). Atlantic Hockey drags that percentage down, actually. In every other conference, the winning percentage for teams that score first is over 70 percent. In Hockey East, it’s the highest at 74 percent.
There are only three league series this weekend, but still plenty on the line in the WCHA. There are just three weeks left in the regular season and a lot to still be sorted out in that time.
Minnesota State, Michigan Tech, and Bowling Green have already clinched spots in the playoffs, with the Mavericks and Huskies having secured home ice advantage. The Falcons can do the same this weekend against Northern Michigan. After that, though, everything is still up for grabs. Five of the remaining six playoff-eligible teams — all of which are in action this weekend — can finish anywhere from fourth place and home ice to last place and missing the playoffs. Only Lake Superior State can’t finish higher than fifth.
In the Polls: Following its winless weekend against Alaska last time out, Minnesota State dropped to No. 2 in this week’s USCHO.com poll. Michigan Tech moved up a spot to No. 4 and Bowling Green held steady at No. 8. Bemidji State (3) is the only WCHA that received votes in the poll.
The Mavericks still hold the top spot in the Pairwise rankings, though, while the Huskies and Falcons check in at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. No other WCHA team is in the top 25.
The standings are so close that with three weeks remaining any of the teams in the top ten could get a bye in the first round. Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence have run away with the league, as the Bobcats have a three point lead on the Saints and SLU has five points clear of the mess of teams in third place. Behind the two front-runners it is a mess, as four teams are tied for third with two others just a point behind in the standings. The battle for the byes and home ice will come down to the last game of the season in three weekends.
Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence meet on Friday, with the league in balance. St. Lawrence has quietly won seven games in a row, all in ECAC play, while QU is riding an overall four game unbeaten streak and eight in league play. Realistically, SLU is playing the best hockey in the league right now and its 7-1 trouncing of Union shows it but QU is playing some awesome hockey as well, mainly led by its defense. With a win on Friday, Quinnipiac can practically wrap up the league barring a meltdown with two weeks left in the season, while the Saints can make it a battle for the league title in the coming weeks. (more…)