|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
Hockey East is proving to be a balanced conference so far this season, which is good in that there is a lot of depth in the league and there seem to be a number of good teams who should be tournament tested later in the season. However, the league seems to lack that elite leader right now, so all of the ranked teams are bunching toward the middle of the poll. Perhaps Hockey East’s time will come later on in the season as BU grows into a team that could repeat or UMass-Lowell gets some more national attention or another school ascends to the top of the league, like current leader UMass. A similar thing happened last season when BC, coming off its prior year national championship, opened up high in the polls and dropped as the season went on. This season, it is Boston University, also a defending champ, which started off highly regarded and is now drifting lower.
BU and UMass-Lowell split a weekend series, drawing them closer to each other in the latest USCHO.com/CBS College Sports Division I Men’s Hockey Poll. The Terriers dropped three spots to seventh and the River Hawks inched up one spot to ninth, making them the only Hockey East school to boast a higher ranking this week. Miami, at 6-1-1, strengthed its hold on number one with 41 of 46 first place votes. Number two Denver got four and number six Yale got the final top vote. North Dakota, Michigan and Cornell round out the top five. Back in the conference, Vermont slid five spots to 15, BC dropped three to 16, and UMass fell two to 19. A tough week in league play was the reason for the drops. Vermont lost to Maine, BC split with Merrimack, and UMass split with Providence. New Hampshire fell victim to a road sweep at the hands of #18 Wisconsin.
It is still quite early in the season, but a quick check of the standings shows an unexpected ordering. UMass, off to a 3-1 league start, is on top, closely followed by UMass-Lowell and unranked UNH and Merrimack. UNH is 2-0 in conference, but is 0-4-1 outside Hockey East. Preseason darlings BC, BU, Vermont, and Northeastern are off to a slow 3-8 combined start. However, there are a lot of leagues games coming, including this week with no teams playing each other more than once (in conference). UMass will step outside the league for a home and home with Niagara. BU will make the trip to Maine and also play Northeastern, who will play its other Boston neighbor, BC. The other half of the weekend for the Eagles will be with UNH, who will also tangle with UMass-Lowell. The River Hawks will make the trip to Vermont, as will Providence.