Editor’s note: Throughout the regular season, Along the Boards will release a weekly power ranking for each NCAA Division I men’s hockey conference. The latest Hockey East power rankings are as follows, with each team’s previous ranking in parentheses.
1. Boston College (1)
Thatcher Demko finally allowed some goals Friday night, but the Eagles still managed a 6-4 win over Michigan State. Although, the game was messier than they would have liked – the teams combined for seven goals in the third period, with three coming within a minute of each other.
BC took a 4-1 lead 12:13 into the final frame, but MSU scored at 12:43, then again at 12:57 to cut the lead to 4-3. The Spartans then tied the score at 14:15, but BC’s Miles Wood redirected an Austin Cangelosi shot on the power play past Michigan State netminder Jake Hildebrand with 1:54 left in regulation to put BC up for good.
2. Providence (2)
It seems a new rivalry is brewing between the Friars and Boston University. Since the teams met in the national championship game last season, the home-and-home series was bound to be emotional.
It lived up to its billing.
BU and Providence duked it out on the ice and with their fists both Friday and Saturday, and neither team was able to get a permanent edge over the other. Both games ended in a tie, 1-1 and 3-3, and the teams combined for 27 penalties through the two games.
PC goalie Nick Ellis looked especially good, as he stopped 73 of 77 BU shots over the weekend. That performance earned him the league’s weekly top player award.
3. UMass-Lowell (3)
The River Hawks faced Maine — the worst team in Hockey East — over the weekend, and came away with two wins. Kevin Boyle is quietly looking like one of the best goaltenders in Hockey East early on, stopping 66 of the 67 shots he saw over the weekend while earning a shutout in Sunday’s 6-0 win.
4. Boston University (6)
The Terriers have to be a lot more pleased with the weekend’s ties than Providence. BU led for just 77 seconds all weekend, taking 15 penalties in two games.
One of those was a five-minute major and game misconduct doled out to freshman Charlie McAvoy. The young blueliner was suspended by the league for Saturday’s game after leaving his feet twice Friday night to launch high hits against Providence players.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson had a breakout weekend, factoring into all of the Terrier output with two goals and two assists. Forsbacka Karlsson ignited a third-period comeback Saturday night with two unanswered goals to tie the game at 2-2.
BU’s ties over the weekend were the types of games that can go a long way toward building the character of a team.
5. Merrimack (4)
It was a good weekend for the Gustafsson brothers, who combined for four points in two games as Merrimack earned a 4-2 win over Massachusetts and a tie with New Hampshire. Alfred Larsson recorded his first goal of the season in style, recording the game-winner on Friday night.
Saturday was a bit of a letdown for the Warriors, who are a significantly better team than UNH, but had to settle for a 3-3 draw.
Merrimack got itself into hot water in the third period when two penalties gave UNH a 5-on-3 at the beginning of the frame. The Wildcats cashed in to tie the game at 1-1. Then, less than a minute later, UNH struck again on the power play to take a 2-1 lead. Merrimack struck back with two quick goals in the final five minutes of regulation, but could not hold off the Cats, who scored the equalizer with 38 seconds left in regulation.
It’s a tie Merrimack cannot allow if it wants to be ranked among Hockey East’s elite, but one point is better than none.
6. Notre Dame (5)
The Fighting Irish played a tight pair of games against Northeastern, earning a 3-2 win on Thursday while settling for a 2-2 tie on Friday. Notre Dame has to be careful about not letting up as the game goes along. The Fighting Irish held a 3-0 lead at one point in Thursday’s game, but allowed Northeastern to tighten the final score. Notre Dame fared worse on Friday, surrendering a 2-0 lead to settle for the draw.
7. Massachusetts (7)
While Notre Dame needs to stay focused at the end of a game, UMass tends to shine in the final minutes. The Minutemen entered the third period of Sunday’s game against the Catamounts down, 3-0, but scored three unanswered goals in the period to salvage a point.
UMass scored twice in the final five minutes — tying the game on an extra-attacker goal with 40 seconds left in regulation – for a thrilling finish.
The lone point from Sunday’s game was all they would get from the weekend, however, as the Minutemen tried to rally in Friday’s game against Merrimack. They would tie the game at 2-2 early in the third period, but then fell victim to two of Merrimack’s Swedish scorers in Larsson and Gustafsson.
Still, the Minutemen are quickly turning into a tough team to play against, a refreshing change for a program that has looked mostly hopeless in recent years.
8. Vermont (9)
The Catamounts have just one win in their last five games, and needed a big weekend to show that they still belong among the contenders in Hockey East after getting swept by Lowell the weekend before. But Vermont’s results this past weekend were lacking.
Standings-wise, Vermont did fine, taking three of a possible four points with a win and a tie. But the victory, a 2-1 win against a Connecticut team that had played Tuesday, wasn’t that impressive. Then Vermont blew a 3-0 lead in the third period against UMass, and suddenly the Catamounts look lucky to get three points.
9. New Hampshire (9)
The Wildcats had just one game over the weekend, but made the most of it with the tie against Merrimack in a game that saw a pair of lead changes in the third period.
UNH’s to come back to tie a game against a difficult team twice in one period speaks to its mental toughness and potential. It also helps that Tyler Kelleher and Andrew Poturalski remain dangerous threats on offense. Kelleher factored into all three of his team’s goals, while Poturalski finished the night with a goal and an assist.
10. Northeastern (11)
The Huskies have to be frustrated after playing hard (and reasonably well) in three of their last four games, but finishing with just one point to show for it. Northeastern badly needs a win – something it has not attained since opening night versus Colgate – but finished this past weekend with another loss and a tie.
Granted, those results came on the road against a decent Notre Dame team. But the Huskies are quickly creating a problem for themselves in the Hockey East standings, as they have just two points from six league games.
11. Connecticut (10)
UConn’s situation in the Hockey East standings is even worse than NU’s, as the Connecticut Huskies have just two points in seven league games.
It was another winless week for UConn, which lost to Army on Tuesday, then dropped a game at Vermont on Friday. The Huskies are now on a six-game losing streak, and have a tougher road ahead with a visit to unbeaten Quinnipiac on Tuesday, then a game against Boston College next week.
12. Maine (12)
The Black Bears need to figure something out on offense, and they need to do it quickly. Maine is ranked dead-last in the nation in scoring with 11 goals in 11 games.
Freshman goaltender Rob McGovern hung tough in Friday’s 2-1 loss by allowing one goal on 26 shots. But he was awful on Sunday, giving up four goals on eight shots before he was pulled just 15:15 into the game.
Maine still has not won a game this season. It needs some sort of spark, and needs it quickly.