With the clocks having turned back last Sunday, meaning depressing darkness at 4:30 p.m. and snow in the forecast, it is official: winter and therefore NCAA hockey season is in full swing.
It is at the point where I’ve completely tuned out the NHL labor meetings since nothing has seemed to progress them forward in months. As far as the NHL is concerned, I would be surprised if the 2012-13 season gets salvaged at all. Like Daylight Savings and winter in New England, another thing you can always count on has already started to happen: Boston College and Boston University’s men’s hockey teams have the look of NCAA title contenders (and yes, I realize that it is early November).
1) Boston College (6-1-0; No. 1 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Won 4-2 at Maine on Friday; Beat UMass-Amherst 3-2 on Sunday
This week: host Notre Dame on Friday; at BU on Sunday
The Black Bears (1-8-0) look like a dumpster fire in Hockey East this season but that’s not the Eagles’ fault. Regardless of how bad Maine might be, winning in Orono is always a difficult task. BC also took care of business at home thanks to the game-winning goal from fourth-line center Patrick Brown. BC’s depth is impressive as they willingly roll four lines (somewhere Bruins coach Claude Julien smiles), which isn’t always the case in college hockey.
2) Boston University (4-2-0; No. 11 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Lost 4-2 at North Dakota on Friday; Won 4-2 at North Dakota on Saturday
This week at Merrimack on Friday; host BC on Sunday
Even though they lost on Friday, the Terriers were competitive and they were rewarded with two points on Saturday. You won’t find a much harder place to play in NCAA hockey than Grand Forks, N.D. so an early-season win there should give BU plenty of confidence moving forward this season. The first installment of BC-BU (the best college sports rivalry in New England) is Sunday and it can’t come soon enough. Those games are usually instant classics.
3) Harvard (2-1-0; No. 14 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Beat Brown 3-2 on Friday; Lost 5-1 to Yale on Saturday
This week: Host Union on Friday; Host Rensselaer on Saturday
It was an uneven weekend for the Crimson as they edged Brown in their first ECAC game but then were crushed at home by Yale. The good news for them is that they have a perfect chance this weekend to get back on the right foot. Union (5-1-1) is No. 8 and made the Frozen Four last season so it shouldn’t take much to get up for that matchup.
4) Northeastern (2-4-1; no longer ranked)
Last week: Lost 5-2 to Merrimack; Lost 4-2 at Merrimack
This week: Host Alabama-Huntsville Saturday and Sunday
That sound you hear from Huntington Avenue is the Huskies in free-fall mode. They are winless (0-4-1) in their last five games and last weekend, they were outscored 9-4 by Merrimack in two games. Mighty Alabama-Huntsville comes into Boston 0-7-1 so I feel confident saying that Northeastern should win both games. If not, look out below.
Star of the week
Boston University freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor
O’Connor didn’t play on Friday but he made the most of his start on Saturday as he stopped 26-of-28 shots (.929) in BU’s 4-2 win at North Dakota’s Ralph Engelstad Arena. He is 4-0-0 with a 1.81 GAA and .942 save percentage so it’s a good bet Jack Parker will be giving him more starts in the near future.
Quote of the week
“Our ability to move the puck out of our zone and then make some plays at center ice without letting them shut us down at center ice was the key to the game,” said BU head coach Jack Parker after his team picked up their first win (1-6-1) ever at North Dakota, 4-2 on Saturday.