Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hockey East Power Rankings, Week of November 26, 2012

1. Boston College: The Eagles top line continued to run right over opponents, led by Johnny Gaudreau's two goals and three assists, in victory over Dartmouth. BC has the best top line in the land by far, the best coach in the nation, and usually saves it's best hockey for March and April. Now, that is a scary proposition for opponents. A big weekend against arch-rival BU and the possibility for Jerry York to become the all-time wins leader looms.

2. New Hampshire: The Wildcats blew a four goal lead at Colorado College, having to settle for a 4-4 tie Friday. A night later, in the marquee match-up of the weekend around the nation, UNH roared back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Denver 6-4. Both Grayson Downing and Kevin Goumas had hat tricks for the boys from Durham. It was an off weekend for sophomore Casey DeSmith in net, but UNH still escaped without a loss.

3. Boston University: The Terriers got the job done against a pesky St. Lawrence squad Saturday night. BU outshot SLU by a wide margin, their overwhelming talent clearly evident. After losing ugly in his first two collegiate starts, Sean Maguire has stopped 50 of 52 in his last two starts, including picking up the shutout Saturday. The goaltending battle will be interesting, as Matt O'Connor started off strong, but has struggled lately. Senior Wade Megan picked up his seventh goal of the season, leading the way for a young BU offense.

4. Providence: The Friar offense has been up and down, especially lately. In the last five games, the Friars have been shutout three times in losses while scoring six and seven goals each in the two wins. Freshman Jon Gillies, with his .932 save percentage, continues to be the key cog keeping the team together. A home-and-home this weekend with Merrimack should be an interesting series.

5. UMass-Lowell: Norm Bazin probably didn't figure he'd have to wait until Thanksgiving for the first two game winning streak of the season. Lowell's offense has come alive the last two games, generating chances and converting. Scott Wilson had two more assists in the win over Princeton, after a rough start. This weekend will be a huge test with a home-and-home against UNH. Two win is unlikely, but one win is a must to continue the momentum and prove the pre-season ranking was legitimate.

6. Merrimack: The Warriors have been way too inconsistent in the past few weeks. They have played real well for a period at a time, but also had serious lapses, playing slow and uninspired for whole periods. Mike Collins continues to play well, with seven goals and eight assists. One promising sign for Mark Dennehy's squad is the goaltending continues to be good. Rasmus Tironnen has really come on strong after a shaky first few outings.

7. UMass-Amherst: The Minutemen are a hard team to judge right now, giving up eight goals to Lowell, then bouncing back for a win and tie against UVM and Quinnipiac, respectively. The scoring, which was expected to have some punch, has struggled. The goaltending has been good for the most part. It will be interesting to see how this team performs over the next few weeks. This weekend provides a key chance to push up the standings, with two against Northeastern.

8. Maine: The Black Bears have played better lately, led by the emergence of junior goaltender Martin Ouellette. If Maine can get the offense on track, the season should turn around. There's no reason an offense with talented players such as Joey Diamond, Kyle Beattie, Mark Anthoine and the freshmen trio cannot produce better once they gel. This upcoming weekend is a big chance for two wins, with home contests against Vermont.

9. Northeastern: After starting 2-0 in conference, including a win over BC, the Huskies are 0-6-1 since, and have only beaten Alabama-Huntsville since that start. Jim Madigan's squad is in serious trouble. There is a lack of depth, with no real talent after the first two forward lines. Defense is poor and goaltending is wildly inconsistent. Being outshot 39-23 in a home loss to St. Lawrence is not something most Hockey East teams expect.

10. Vermont: UVM ranks ninth in scoring offense and last in scoring defense in the conference. The Catamounts only two wins on the season have come at home, so this could be a rough weekend, traveling to Orono for a pair at Maine. The offense is sputtering, and is starting to deal with some key injuries, including Colin Markison and Connor Brickley.