Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hockey East Power Rankings, Week of December 3, 2012

1. Boston College: The Eagles split with arch-rival BU, losing 4-2 on the road and winning 5-2 at home. The victory Saturday night gave Jerry York his 924th coaching win, tying him with Ron Mason for most all-time. The top two lines for BC continue to absolutely dominate games. They possess such skill, it feels like anytime they are on the ice, there is a chance for a BC goal.

2. New Hampshire: The Wildcats are the only team in the nation to yet to lose in regulation. The lone blemish for UNH so far was an overtime loss at UMass-Amherst. UNH won convincingly both nights over a struggling Lowell team. This is the best UNH team in a while, with balanced scoring up front, led by a few snipers. The defense has been able to contribute offensively, leading the rush up ice and Casey DeSmith has been superb in net.

3. Boston University: The Terriers ended BC's 10 game winning streak Friday night with a 4-2 win at Agganis Arena. The Terriers are very talented, but extremely young. This should be a motivated BU team looking to put the scandals of last season behind them and prove their worth. Come February and Beanpot time, Jack Parker will have this team firing on all cylinders.

4. Providence: The Friars have a young team, with some up and coming skill, especially in net. Freshman Jon Gillies, a Calgary draft pick, was once again solid on the weekend. Another good story emerging out of Friar land is junior forward Derek Army. The son of former coach Tim Army, he stayed with the team after his dad was fired following his freshman season. Three generations of Army's have been PC hockey players. Many kids would have packed their bags and gone elsewhere, but Army chose to stick around, and is now the leading scorer for PC with nine points.

5. UMass-Amherst: The Minutemen outshot Northeastern both nights over the weekend, but were stymied by Chris Rawlings on Friday night on home ice. Saturday, John Micheletto's squad broke open a 2-2 tie to win 6-3. UMass has not gotten the production they expected from Michael Pereira or Conor Sheary yet, but a balanced attack has produced solid numbers. Kevin Boyle had his worst performance in five games on Saturday, but was still good enough for the win. His early season play has really solidified the goaltending situation in Amherst.

6. Merrimack: The Warriors split their weekend series with Providence, losing in overtime at home before squeaking out a 2-1 victory on the road the next night. Merrimack played well this weekend, really tightening up the defense. This team lacks a true superstar, even with Mike Collins' hot start, but if Mark Dennehy's squad brings the blue collar effort they brought both nights this weekend, they will be in the heat of the home ice battle come March.

7. Vermont: Vermont will fall in the standings, as their second half schedule is brutal. The last six games on their docket are UNH, BU and BC. However, for now, credit must be given for taking three of four in Orono and taking care of business better than some of the other teams at the bottom of the standings. In the long run, it will catch up to UVM that their team is made up of primarily grinders and role players.

8. Northeastern: The Huskies continue their inconsistent play, winning 1-0 at UMass Friday before losing 6-3 at home Saturday. Chris Rawlings was outstanding Friday night, but Saturday night was a different story. He made a lot of saves and faced a ton of rubber, but let in a real soft goal to break the tie at 2. Freshman forward Kevin Roy had two more goals on the weekend to bring his season total to seven.

9. UMass-Lowell: I'm still waiting for UML to turn things around and firmly believe they are a playoff team, but I can't justify a higher ranking at this point. The River Hawks lost 5-2 both nights over the weekend to UNH. Five of their six conference losses are to the top two teams, BC and UNH. UML will most likely take advantage of an easier second half schedule and move up in the standings a little, but that pre-season second place ranking seems unrealistic now.

10. Maine: This is not a team with last place talent, but the Black Bears rank last in the conference in scoring offense, scoring defense, and power play. Maine has taken more penalties than any other team in the league and could only muster 1 point at home against Vermont. Attendance was below 4,000 Saturday night. Tim Whitehead's days are numbered in Orono.