It seems silly to say that the college hockey season is hitting the stretch drive since the conference tournaments are still two months away, but how else can you describe it when our four local teams are about to dive back into conference play for the last time? The regular season begins with non-conference games, then conference games, Thanksgiving break, more conference games then Christmas break and more non-conference play. From here on out (for the most part), the games mean the most as teams face their conference rivals, all jockeying for position in the leagues. BC and BU have clearly separated themselves as always, they will be a major factor in Hockey East and nationally while Northeastern and Harvard are just trying to tread water.
1) Boston College (12-3-2, 9-2-1 in Hockey East; No. 3 in USCHO.com poll, 1 of 50 1st place votes)
Last week: Tied Yale 3-3 on Friday
Next games: Host No. 4 New Hampshire on Friday; travel to UNH on Saturday
Nobody has bought the domain name firejerryyork.com (for good reason) but it is shocking to see the Eagles slog through an extremely rare rough stretch for them (1-1-2 in their last four). The only win in that time was against Alabama-Huntsville which shouldn’t even count. In truth, BC’s last real win was December 1 vs. BU (5-2). Expect them to bounce back in a big way this weekend since they have a home-and-home with the Wildcats, who are two points behind them in Hockey East. If the Eagles don’t win at least once against UNH, then we’ll know something is up.
2) Boston University (11-6-0, 8-4-0 in Hockey East; No. 8 in USCHO.com poll)
Last week: Beat Rensselaer 3-2 in OT on Friday
Next game: Lost to Harvard Wednesday, 6-5, in OT; at Merrimack on Friday
Speaking of bouncing back, the Terriers erased their memory from a humbling trip to Denver with an overtime win vs. Rensselaer. The schedule sets up nicely for them with their next three games against Harvard, Merrimack and Northeastern. All three games are very winnable and at three points behind BC, BU has the chance to be a real contender in terms of winning Hockey East should the Eagles continue to stumble.
3) Harvard (4-7-1, 3-3-0 in ECAC)
Last week: Lost 3-2 at Princeton on Friday; Lost 5-2 at No. 5 Quinnipiac on Saturday
Next game: Beat BU, 6-5, in OT Wednesday; at No. 12 Dartmouth on Saturday
It is official, the wheels have fallen off in Cambridge as the Crimson (0-5-1) haven’t recorded a win since back before Thanksgiving (Nov. 16 at Cornell). Figuring out why Harvard has struggled so much doesn’t take a PHD from the World’s Greatest University: between defections to minor league hockey, injuries and a brutal schedule, the Crimson have suffered the perfect storm of negative factors in the middle of their season. We are rooting for Harvard to get back on their skates but it is going to be very difficult this week with road games at teams that will likely make the NCAA tournament: BU and Dartmouth.
4) Northeastern (6-10-1, 3-8-1 in Hockey East)
Last week: Lost 6-3 to Bentley on Saturday
Next game: Host Maine on Friday
Like the Crimson, the Huskies are also really struggling as they try to prevent their season from circling the drain once again. Northeastern is 1-3 in their last four games with ironically enough the lone win coming against Harvard. I’m going to guess that losing 6-3 at Matthews Arena to Bentley last weekend was the lowest point of the season thus far. That simply can’t happen, especially when you’re trying to turn your season around. Northeastern vs. Maine is a battle of the bottom two teams in Hockey East at the moment, a must-win if ever there was one for the Huskies.
Star of the week
Boston University sophomore forward Cason Hohmann
BU’s first-line center stepped up with his biggest goal of the season as he potted the game-winner in overtime against Rensselaer. He also had an assist on the tying goal in the third period as the Terriers battled back from a 2-1 deficit. For the season, he has five goals and 13 assists with a sparkling +17 and 35 shots on goal.
Quote of the week
From USCHO.com’s Scott Weighart
“That first one, I was kind of mad at myself,” BU sophomore center Cason Hohmann said about an earlier goal-scoring chance vs. Rensselaer. “I had the whole net and shot it right into him. It wasn’t my best shot, so luckily, I got it back in overtime.”