Now that all four local college hockey teams are off for winter break until Dec. 29, it is a perfect time (since it is basically halfway through the regular season) to both look back and forward in 2012-13.
The marathon known as a college hockey regular season picks up again before New Year’s and doesn’t end until the beginning of March. Then the conference playoffs take place and the NCAA tournament is in mid-March. The Frozen Four is in early April. I feel exhausted just writing that so no doubt the teams are happy to unlace their skates for a few days. Happy Holidays everybody!
1) Boston College (11-2-1, 9-2-1 in Hockey East; No. 1 in USCHO.com poll, 35 of 50 1st place votes)
Last week: Tied PC 2-2 on Friday in Providence
Next games: Vs. Alabama-Huntsville on Dec. 29 at Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis; vs. Minnesota on December 30 at Mariucci Classic
Jerry York was denied his 925th career win, which would have made him the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach but things weren’t all bad at The Heights since the Eagles regained the No. 1 spot in college hockey thanks to UNH’s loss to BU on Thursday. The Eagles have been the best team in the country through the season’s first half and I certainly wouldn’t want to face them in March or April when their game always seems to ramp up another level. The Eagles will crush Alabama-Huntsville to set the record for York but then they get a juicy matchup with the No. 4 Gophers (in Minneapolis).
2) Boston University (10-5-0, 8-4-0 in Hockey East; No. 6 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Won 3-2 at UNH on Thursday; Shut out Merrimack 1-0 on Saturday
Next game: At Denver on December 29 for Hall of Fame Game
Jack Parker has to be extremely pleased with the way his team closed out the first half. They beat the top-ranked team on the road then returned home and blanked a Hockey East foe. Winners of four of their last five and seven of their last seven games, the Terriers are clearly trending up and they represent another squad that is perennially built for the Hockey East playoffs and the NCAA tournament.
3) Harvard (4-4-1, 3-3-0 in ECAC; No. 18 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Tied Merrimack 2-2; Lost 5-0 to UMass-Lowell
Next game: Host Northeastern on Dec. 29
It was a very rough weekend for the Crimson and that has little to do with the aforementioned results. Three defensemen-Max Everson, Patrick McNally and Mark Luzar-left the program due to the academic scandal that has plagued student-athletes at the Ivy League school this year. This follows in the footsteps of goaltender Stephan Michaelk who left in November for the same reason. Since they are in season and due to NCAA rules, Ted Donato can’t replace those guys so it is going to be a real disadvantage moving forward as player’s roles change dramatically.
4) Northeastern (5-9-1, 3-8-1 in Hockey East)
Last week: Lost 2-0 at UMass-Lowell on Saturday
Next game: At Harvard on Dec. 29
The Huskies have dug themselves (no pun intended) quite a hole after losing five of their last six games heading into the break. The second half will require quite an uphill climb since they are tied with UMass-Lowell for eighth-place in the 10-team Hockey East. Goal-scoring seems to be their main issue since they haven’t scored more than three goals in their past eight games. It’s impossible to win consistently when you put that much pressure on the defense and goaltender. More than any other team here, they need this break to re-evaluate what is going wrong and hopefully correct it before the season goes down the drain.
Co-Stars of the week
Boston University freshmen goaltenders Matt O’Connor and Sean Maguire
Major props to Parker and his assistant coaches who somehow recruited not one but two good freshman goaltenders to come to BU at the same time. Yes, the future looks very bright in BU’s crease with O’Connor (7-3-1) and Maguire (3-2-0) around. O’Conner made 31 saves in Durham and he deserves extra credit based on the caliber of opponent. Macguire was just as outstanding with 28 saves as Maine couldn’t beat him even once.
Quote of the week
From The Boston Hockey Blog’s (affiliated with BU’s campus newspaper) Tim Healey:
“For us to come up here and get a W is terrific,” said BU head coach Jack Parker after the Terriers upset No. 1 UNH, 3-2 in Durham, NH. “It’s really good for our confidence and obviously it’s great for the points. There isn’t a flaw on that team and the thing they really got going for them is that they’re working their system so hard.”