By: James Duffy
It’s been a while, but the Hockey East Notebook is back after a long winter break and better than ever. There’s a lot to dive into since the last edition, with every team in Hockey East having played their fair share of games over the past month, so with out further ado, lets get into it.
The Providence College Friars, formerly the #1 team in the land, have hit somewhat of a rough patch of late. The formerly undefeated Friars have gone 1-3-1 in their last five contests, dropping OT games to Brown and Cornell, and splitting three games with Boston College. They came away with a 2-1 win over the Eagles before getting slaughtered 7-3, then wrapped up their series with a 4-4 tie.
Splitting the three games with Providence helped keep Boston College high in the Hockey East standings, despite losses to surging Notre Dame, and an out of conference loss to Ohio State. The Eagles are one of the best teams in the nation, but some of that early season magic has worn off, mostly because Thatcher Demko has come back down to earth hard. On November 8th, Demko had an unfathomable stat-line, .974 save percentage, 0.67 goals allowed average. Today, those numbers stand at .936 and 1.72. Still remarkable, but a fall from grace no less. Demko is now sidelined with an injury, so he may not get a shot to improve his stats for a little while.
BC sits behind just one team in Hockey East, UMass Lowell, who’s 7-2-3 record in conference is good enough for first place. The Riverhawks were surprisingly swept by UConn to kick off December, which they followed up by losing to Robert Morris in the Three River Classic Championship, but an in-conference win over New Hampshire has them back on track. Lowell’s strong season has continued, mostly on the back of goalie Kevin Boyle, who has stayed among the leagues best goalies since the start of the year.
Notre Dame has been another surprise team, currently locking down the third spot in Hockey East despite just nine in-conference games. They’re 6-1-2 in those nine against conference opponents, with the most recent win coming over Boston College. The Irish battled back from a 3-1 deficit, tagged Demko for four goals and kept their team hot streak going.
Thursday, January 7
Boston University 6-5 Harvard
Friday, January 8
Western Michigan 1-7 Notre Dame
Saturday, January 9
Notre Dame 3-3 Western Michigan
Sunday, January 10
Connecticut 3-0 Arizona State
The Week Ahead
The biggest matchup of Hockey East teams this weekend is the home-and-home between Boston College and Boston University. The Eagles and Terriers are two of the top teams in the conference this season, and if Thatcher Demko isn’t good to go this series could really go either way. All eyes should be on this one, it’s going to be a highly contested series.
Beyond that series, not many other are worth too much note. The skidding Providence Friars will look to get back on track when they make the trip up to Vermont for two against the Catamounts. Notre Dame, who’s been rising up in the standings lately, will host Merrimack for a pair in South Bend. After a hot start to the season, the Warriors have come back down to earth hard, and the Irish should make easy work of them.
Connecticut and Maine, two of the bottom three teams in Hockey East, match up for a two-game set in Orono, and Northeastern, the worst team in the conference, matches up with New Hampshire for a home-and-home series. Lastly, UMass Lowell will take on UMass Amherst in what should be another blowout of a series.