With the first real break of the 2012-13 NCAA hockey season upon us (thank you Pilgrims), it’s a good time to make some early judgments on the four teams that play in the Beanpot, based on a decent sample size. BC is a juggernaut, the undisputed best team in the nation. BU and Harvard are talented but inconsistent so they are not on the Eagles’ level yet. Unfortunately, it seems like Northeastern has continued on its usual path of never-ending rebuilding. No question that many things will change between now and February (when the Beanpot) occurs and beyond but for now, those are the obvious judgments about the four squads.
1) Boston College (9-1-0, 8-1-0 Hockey East; No. 1 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Beat Merrimack 4-3 on Friday
This week: Host Dartmouth on Saturday
More than any other team, the Eagles earned their vacation. Not only are they currently riding a nine-game win streak but against the Warriors, they fell behind 3-0 in the second period before erasing that in 7:02 of the same frame. Senior forward Steven Whitney completed the stunning comeback with the game-winning goal in the third period as BC escaped with another victory. One non-conference game this weekend should ease them back into the swing of things before they meet BU twice the following weekend.
2) Boston University (6-4-0, 5-3-0 in Hockey East; No. 10 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Won 6-2 at Vermont on Friday; Lost 3-1 to UNH on Sunday
This week: Host St. Lawrence on Saturday
For the third straight weekend, the Terriers picked up a win but they also suffered a loss. They stuck to the script in a sense because they blew out the Catamounts on the road but dropped another game against the Wildcats (who also beat them 4-1 on October 20). The Wildcats have been the early surprise of Hockey East-they are second in the conference and ranked No. 3 nationally-so BU isn’t the only team to have trouble with them. St. Lawerence isn’t ranked but they received votes in the latest polls so they are a quality opponent. The Terriers need to tune up against the ECAC team before they play BC again.
3) Harvard (4-3-0, 3-3-0 ECAC; No. 17 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Won 4-1 at Cornell on Friday; Lost 1-0 at Colgate on Saturday
This week: Off until December 7
Without question, the best win of the weekend for any of these teams was Harvard’s resounding 4-1 victory at No. 10 Cornell. With that said, it probably would have felt much better and had a more lasting effect if they recorded the sweep and won at Colgate too. Still, that shows how good the Crimson can be when they put it all together. Like BU, they have alternated wins and losses for the past three weekends. Only an Ivy League team (ECAC for hockey) would find a way to take two weeks off in the middle of the season, this is also from a team that started two weeks after everybody else. Amazing.
4) Northeastern (4-6-1, 2-6-1 Hockey East; not ranked but received 2 votes)
Last week: Lost 6-2 at Providence on Friday; Lost 3-2 at Vermont on Saturday
This week: Host St. Lawrence on Friday
It was another lost weekend for the Huskies who are 0-6-1 in their last seven Hockey East games. They haven’t beaten a conference foe since way back on October 13 vs. BC. To think that Northeastern started off this season on such a promising note. Where has it all gone wrong? Apropos of nothing, they’ve scored two goals each time in their last four conference losses so maybe that’s the magic number. Regardless, you have to ask who is still voting for this team that is trending straight down?
Star of the week
Harvard junior goaltender Raphael Girard
Girard got both starts in Upstate New York last weekend and while his record said 1-1-0, it’s hard to fault a guy that only allowed two goals in two games. He made 34 saves in the upset of Cornell and followed that up with 21 saves against Colgate. He’s played in all seven games and started the last six, putting up a 2.06 goals against average.
Quote of the week
From The Crimson (Harvard’s campus newspaper)
“(In) the first 15 minutes, there weren’t any goals. It was a really tight hockey game,” said Crimson sophomore forward Mike Seward. “At Cornell, there are so many fans and the energy of the game is so high, goals like (the second goal) are big for momentum, so it was big that we scored right after Cornell scored to silence the crowd.”