Hockey East Notebook 12/3/15

By: James Duffy

Weekend Review

Northeastern and UMass Lowell travelled across the pond over Thanksgiving break to take part in the first ever Friendship Four in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The two faced off head-to-head, with Lowell crushing Northeastern 3-2 in overtime. Northeastern routed Colgate 7-1 in the second round, while Lowell ended up playing Brown to a tie. They would go to a shootout to decide the winner of the tournament, and at the end Lowell came away with the Belpot Trophy.

Boston College rolled over RIT, led by junior forward Ryan Fitzgerald’s two goal effort. Matthew Gaudreau, brother of Hockey East legend Johnny, tallied three assists for the Eagles as well. However Thatcher Demko continues to show some chinks in the armor, giving up two goals on 17 shots to a weak RIT team. Demko’s save percentage has plummeted in the last month, falling all the way from .974 to .953. Still one of the best in the nation, but no longer invincible.

Beyond that, out of conference action was relatively lackluster. Massachusetts got swept by #3 Quinnipiac in a series that could’ve potentially rocketed them into the national rankings. Instead they were held to just one goal in the two games. Maine was able to keep their hot streak rolling, beating Princeton twice to extend their winning streak to four games, which includes all of their wins on the season. Forward Blaine Byron was huge for the Bears, netting three of their eight goals in the two wins.

Providence survived a scare from Yale to remain undefeated, coming back from a 3-2 deficit in the third to win 4-3. None other than Jake Walman scored the game winner for the Friars, who are now 9-0-3 on the season. Boston University tied Cornell at Madison Square Garden in a contest of two ranked teams. The Terriers won in a shootout to win the Kelley-Harkness Cup, awarded to the winner of that rivalry game every season.

Scores

Friday, November 27

UMass Lowell 3-2 Northeastern

Princeton 3-5 Maine

Quinnipiac 4-1 Massachusetts

Harvard 4-1 Notre Dame

Saturday, November 28

RIT 2-6 Boston Collge

Massachusetts 0-1 Quinnipiac

Colgate 1-7 Northeastern

Union 4-0 Merrimack

Princeton 2-3 Maine

Yale 3-4 Providence

Bentley 4-5 New Hampshire

Brown 5-5 UMass Lowell

Western Michigan 1-3 Notre Dame

Sunday, November 29

Penn State 4-0 Vermont

The Week Ahead

To make up for the fact that the only in-conference game took place in Belfast last weekend, every team will be in action and every game is for Hockey East points. Merrimack and Providence have an interesting home-and-home, as the #16 Warriors would love to be the first team to beat the reigning champs this year, and have a decent chance to come away with a win.  Another series that jumps out is BC-Northeastern, who also play a home-and-home. The Huskies offense exploded in Ireland for seven goals, and Thatcher Demko is coming back down to earth quickly. I’m not saying that Northeastern is going to necessarily light up Demko or even come away with any points, but this could be really great timing for them to get something going.

UMass Lowell, still sitting atop the conference, will take on UConn for two, as another Husky team is struggling mightily this season. All signs point to another good weekend for the River Hawks here. Things are starting to get rolling up in Orono as Maine, winner of four straight, hosts New Hampshire. With UNH struggling lately, with one win over their last seven games, Maine has a good chance to really climb up in the Hockey East standings, surprisingly enough. Beyond those series’, BU hosts Vermont for two, and Massachusetts goes out to South Bend for a pair.

National Rankings

Providence – #1 (1)

Boston College – #2 (2)

UMass Lowell – #5 (4)

Boston University – #11 (11)

Merrimack – #16 (16)

Notre Dame – #20 (18)

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