There are only two weekends left in college hockey’s regular season and for Hockey East fans, we are seeing one of the craziest finishes in recent memory. No less than four teams are tied for first-place: Boston College, UMass-Lowell, UNH and Providence all have 28 points with four games left. It is setting up for an incredible finish, especially since Merrimack is only one point behind the pack and Boston University is one point behind them. There is also a decent race (if you can call it that) at the bottom of Hockey East for the last two playoff spots. ECAC wraps up this weekend and Harvard is probably stuck in last place since they are three points behind Colgate (the team closest to them) with two games remaining.
1. Boston College (18-9-3 overall, 13-8-2 in Hockey East; No. 4 in USCHO.com poll with 1 first-place vote)
Last week: Won 2-1 in OT at No. 17 Merrimack on Sunday; Lost 4-2 to No. 12 UMass-Lowell on Tuesday
Next games: At No. 20 Providence on Friday; Host Providence on Saturday (4 p.m., NESN)
Due to the blizzard a few weeks ago, the Eagles had to play two very tough games in less than 48 hours. The win at Merrimack was great but they predictably didn’t have much left in the tank against the River Hawks. Even worse, forward Kevin Hayes (6 goals, 19 assists) hurt his quad and has been declared out for the rest of the season. BC has a sneaky tough last four games: they have a home-and-home with PC then wrap up the regular season with two games at Vermont-always a tough place to play. Things are not trending upward for the Eagles although that can change quickly this weekend.
2. Boston University (15-14-2 overall, 12-9-2 in Hockey East; No. 19 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Loss 3-0 to UMass-Lowell on Friday and 3-1 at UMass-Lowell on Friday before beating Merrimack 5-2 on Tuesday.
Next games: Host Vermont on Friday and Saturday.
BU looked dead in the water after getting swept last weekend. However, that makes Tuesday’s win against Merrimack their best of the season. Also in their favor is that they play two of Hockey East’s two worst teams (Vermont, Northeastern) in the final four games. If the Terriers can’t take advantage of that favorable schedule, they have no excuse.
3) Harvard (8-16-3 overall, 5-13-2 in ECAC)
Last week: Lost 4-2 at St. Lawrence on Friday; won 6-2 at Clarkson on Saturday
Next games: Host No. 1 Quinnipiac on Friday; Host Princeton on Saturday in their regular season finale
Believe it or not, the Crimson (3-1-2 in their last 6 games) are actually the hottest team of these four squads. Granted that’s a very small and skewed sample size but you have to give them credit for not packing it in like some teams (cough Northeastern). Hopefully the Bright Center is jumping on Friday as they host the top team in the country, something that doesn’t often occur in Cambridge. The Bobcats rolled 6-2 over the Crimson on Jan. 5 and the Tigers beat the Crimson 3-2 the night before that.
4) Northeastern (9-18-3 overall, 5-15-3 in Hockey East)
Last week: Lost 6-2 at Providence on Friday; Lost 3-2 to Providence on Saturday
Next games: At Maine on Friday and Saturday
Getting swept by the Friars means that the Huskies will likely miss the Hockey East playoffs this year. Adding to the drama, injured senior center Garrett Vermeersch (3 goals, 12 assists) was suspended for breaking team rules. This weekend against Maine could be an elimination series: if either team sweeps the other, they will probably put the opposing team out of the Hockey East playoffs. We’ll see how Northeastern responds to another tough situation like this.
Star of the week
Boston College senior goaltender Parker Milner
There weren’t too many candidates that stood out this week but Milner who made 43 saves (second highest total of his season) in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win at Merrimack. He allowed three goals in the loss against UMass-Lowell but he made 25 saves which is normally enough to get a win in Hockey East. For the season, he’s 18-8-3 with three shutouts, a goals against average of 2.48 and save percentage of .919.
Quote of the week
From Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin
“We’ve talked about, hey, we’ve got four out of our five games at home at the end of the season here,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “If you want to make home ice, you’re going to have to win these games. At least we’re 1-0 right now.”