The never-ending college hockey regular season is almost over: Harvard begins its journey in the ECAC tournament this weekend at Dartmouth while Boston and Boston University fight for position and the all-important home ice in the Hockey East playoffs (which begin March 14-17 on campus sites). Things will look drastically different at this point next week since the Crimson’s season could be over and Northeastern will have packed up all its stuff for the offseason while the Eagles and Terriers prepare for what they hope will be a long postseason - something they’re both accustomed to.
1. Boston College (19-10-3 overall, 14-9-2 in Hockey East; No. 6 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Won 3-2 at No. 18 Providence on Friday; Lost 5-1 to Providence on Saturday
Next games: At Vermont Friday and Saturday
It’s hard to make sense of the Eagles’ results last weekend. They picked up a gritty road win at Providence on Friday night then proceeded to come home and absolutely self destruct in the third period (Friars outscored them 4-1) for a stunning loss at Kelley Rink on Saturday afternoon. It was a costly loss too since they tumbled to third-place in Hockey East (30 points) - tied with PC -behind UMass Lowell (32 points) and UNH (31 points). The good news for BC is that they’re playing one of the worst teams in the conference, Vermont, to wrap things up in the regular season. Granted, the Catamounts will be in the Hockey East playoffs and they are surely motivated to not be the eighth seed.
2. Boston University (16-15-2 overall, 13-10-2 in Hockey East; No. 19 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Beat Vermont 3-1 on Friday then lost to Vermont 5-2 on Saturday
Next games: At Northeastern on Friday (7:30 p.m., CBS College Sports Network) and host Northeastern on Saturday
True to form this season, the Terriers picked up a nice win one night then followed it up with a really bad loss the next. What else would you expect from a team that’s so maddeningly inconsistent? No wonder Jack Parker is extra cranky this season. He never knows what he’ll get from his talented but bipolar squad. They do receive a gift from Hockey East though as their last regular season games are against Northeastern, which is already guaranteed not to make the playoffs. Plus, the Terriers (28 points) have an outside shot at home ice (Top-four finish) assuming they can win both games against the Huskies.
3. Harvard (9-17-3 overall, 6-14-2 in ECAC)
Last week: Beat No. 1 Quinnipiac 2-1 in OT on Friday; Lost 2-1 to Princeton in OT on Saturday
Next games: At Dartmouth on Friday and Saturday in the first-round of the ECAC tournament; At Dartmouth on Sunday if necessary (Best-of-3 series)
No team in college hockey picked up a bigger victory last weekend than Harvard, who knocked off the No. 1 ranked team in the nation-Quinnipiac-in overtime. Since the Crimson have made a habit of being terrible for most of the regular season, then turning it on late and in the playoffs, you wonder how they could transform that into the entire year? They are stuck with the last seed in the ECAC tournament so they have to go on the road and face Dartmouth-who was ranked almost all season-but the Crimson shouldn’t be scared. Earlier in the season they lost 3-2 to the Big Green and tied them 1-1, don’t bet against an upset.
4. Northeastern (9-18-3 overall, 5-15-3 in Hockey East)
Last week: Lost 3-1 at Maine on Friday and tied Maine 4-4 in OT on Saturday in Orono
Next games: Host No. 19 BU on Friday and at BU on Saturday
Northeastern had everything to play for at Maine but they came up short on Friday which eliminated them from contention and made Saturday pointless-to them at least. The Huskies can still play spoiler to BU, a team that they upset in the Beanpot first round (3-2) and also beat earlier in the season (6-5) in their other meeting. Perhaps Northeastern will find some sort of pride this weekend, something that the program has lacked for years now.
Star of the week
Harvard senior winger Alex Fallstrom
The Crimson’s leading scorer (8 goals, 11 assists) managed to pick up the biggest goal of his decorated college career, in his second-to-last home game for Harvard. With 18 seconds left in overtime, he scored the goal that knocked off No. 1 Quinnipiac (who is still ranked No. 1 this week) on Friday at the Bright Center. It was an active game for Fallstrom, who tied for the team-lead with five shots and he was also plus-2 on the night. He also had Harvard’s lone goal, shorthanded, in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Princeton.
Quote of the week
From USCHO.com’s Brian Sullivan
“We really worked hard and I thought our effort was there all night,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato after his team’s 2-1 OT win over Quinnipiac. “All around, I was very proud of the way we played. Quinnipiac’s a great team, it’s nice on our seniors’ final home weekend here to get a win vs. the No. 1 team.”
Follow Metro Boston college hockey writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate