Pot Post Game Wrap Up – Weekend Surprises, Playoff Picture in HE

As we wind down the regular season schedule, only two weekends of play remain, parity continues to be the resounding theme. Although the league is clearly divided into a top and bottom class, there will be battles for virtually every position with Vermont being the only outlier team that has succumbed to the mathematics of contention. As CHN’s Josh Seguin explains, UVM fell victim to key injuries, namely US Junior Team member Connor Brickley as Kevin Sneddon and the Catamounts look towards a promising future.

What surprised me this past weekend?

Well, first and foremost, Lowell’s resolve in responding to a drubbing on Friday night at the Tsongas Center (7-4 to BU) with a statement late season win at Agganis Arena the following night (4-2 Lowell). Friday night’s game at the Tsongas Center was arguably the most pivotal home game in regular season history and there is no doubt the young Riverhawks were unable to keep their exuberance and emotion in check. Sometimes it helps a freshmen/sophomore laden team to play on the road away from its home crowd in overly hyped games. Lowell blog site Ice is Life offers his take on the “resiliency” of this Lowell squad that now sits a mere 1 point behind first place BC.  Frosh Scott Wilson keyed the turnaround win on Saturday with 2 goals including a highlight reel “BOMB” that only a true “gifted” goal scorer could manage.

The heated debate over Johnny Gaudreau and Scott Wilson – There has been no lack of vitriole spewed this past week on the Twitter and Blog mediums debating the talents of HE freshman sensations Johnny Gaudreau and Scott Wilson. Why is it that when we are lucky enough to watch two talented sports figures we immediately have to discern, “which one is BETTER?” Regarding the Gaudreau Wilson debate, why can’t we just appreciate the unique talents that both players possess? Gaudreau is a slick playmaker and Wilson is a gifted goal scorer who seems to have a nose for the net. They are perfect compliments to one another and have vastly different, yet successful styles much like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks. Can we even imagine for a minute the thought of Gaudreau and Wilson playing on a line together?….think Janney and Neely. In case anyone in the HE blogosphere wants to know, the BF is endorsing Scott Wilson for rookie of the year in HE. Why??? Because when I answered “Wilson” to the following 3 questions it was perfectly clear who the hardware should go to.

-What player better creates scoring chances on his own? Wilson

-What player has the “less talented” supporting cast? Wilson

-What player has been the most consistent player throughout the year? Wilson

Another man down at BU?? The biggest surprise of course was the breaking of the Max Nicastro story that left the Terriers down yet another man. Dicastro pleaded not guilty to 2 counts of rape and according to several sources has left the University entirely. Although much like the Duke Lacrosse case tells us, we must wait until all of the facts are presented, but given his immediate departure it certainly looks bad for Dicastro. It’s another black eye for the program that is now seemingly in the spotlight and will now have some explaining to do when future recruits and more importantly, their parents come to visit.

There were contradictory statements issued on ESPN.com regarding Nicastro’s future at BU:

“Curran also said that Nicastro plans to complete his degree in business administration at Boston University, including taking classes this summer in order to graduate on time. But a university spokesman said late Tuesday he’s no longer enrolled at BU.”

Paul Kelly’s resignation – As we all know by now Kelly was asked to resign from CHI earlier this week and has been replaced by interim executive, Nate Ewell. It is hard to fathom CHI without such a powerful voice at the helm and although many folks within the college hockey community are praising Ewell, I am not confident the organization will ever be the same.

What Did NOT Surprise Me?

Merrimack’s anemic offense – The Warriors rank 9th in HE with a paltry 57 goals (2.48) per game and have been struggling down the stretch against teams like BC who can put the biscuit in the basket. Thankfully, Merrimack can rely on Joe Cannata who has paced the Warriors to a league best 2.30 G/GM. Merrimack could only muster 3 goals over the course of last weekend in which they were swept into 5th place and out of home ice by BC. If the Warrior’s want to rebound down the stretch they really need to tighten up defensively, much like the Bruins did in 2010 when their offense was last in the NHL, and rely on their team defense and ultimately Cannata to win tight games down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Jerry York’s continued success and win #900 – People seem to forget that the BC Hockey program was mired in a decade or so slump before Jerry York took over the program. Given the inordinate success York has brought to the Heights, this period of stagnancy is indeed a distant memory. In a modern day college sports realm that is littered with cheats and frauds, it is wonderful see such a class act do things in an ethical manner and still achieve the ultimate success. York won #900 this past weekend in a 4-2 victory over Merrimack and given his love and passion for the game, doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

BU’s inability to finish and win at home – I know BU scored 7 goals on Friday night in a great effort at Lowell. Saturday’s contest at Agganis was one that most formidable BU teams of the past would NEVER have lost. What has to be the most frustrating for Terrier fans was the fact that BU played a high energy game Saturday net and peppered Doug Carr with 41 shots…problem is, the Terrier’s lack prolific scoring depth and rely too much on grinder type players like Chris Connolly for offense. Jack parker even praised the Terriers effort on Saturday saying, “I loved my team tonight,” problem is Jack, your team lacks the superstar scorers you’ve grown accustomed to. Teams are no longer scared of playing on the big stage that is BU which has lost to both UMass and UMass Lowell at home in the past few weeks and has now dropped a stunning 4 straight at Agganis.

UMass’s Enigmatic Qualities – I am no longer surprised by ANYTHING that this UMass team does; whether it’s beat the #1 team in the country (TWICE) or lose to the Quinnipiac’s and Bentley’s of the world. The fact that UMass, with their playoff hopes on the line, layed an egg in Friday’s 7-3 shellacking in Orono does not surprise me one bit…nor does the unfathomable resurgence the following night that saw UMass top Maine at Alfond 4-1.  

The current standings look like this:

Hockey East Standings

 

W

L

T

Win %

Pts.

 

Overall:

W

L

T

Win %

Boston College 15 7 1 .674 31     21 10 1 .672
Massachusetts-Lowell 15 8 0 .652 30     20 9 0 .690
Boston University 14 8 1 .630 29     18 11 1 .617
Maine 13 9 2 .583 28     18 10 3 .629
Merrimack 11 8 4 .565 26     15 9 6 .600
Providence 10 10 3 .500 23     12 14 4 .467
New Hampshire 10 12 2 .458 22     13 15 3 .468
Massachusetts 7 12 4 .391 18     11 14 5 .450
Northeastern 7 12 4 .391 18     11 14 5 .450
Vermont 3 19 1 .152 7     6 23 1 .217

Bracketology – a few sites breakdown potential NCAA Tournament Match-ups

Some Playoff Speculation and Percentages from HE Blogosphere:

 

 

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