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UMass-Lowell continues to rise in the polls as they climbed three spots in this week’s USCHO.com/CBS College Sports Division I Men’s Hockey Poll from eighth to fifth. Miami, after a weekend sweep of Michigan is the near unanimous number one, losing only one first place vote to North Dakota, who is second in the poll. Cornell and Denver are the final two teams above the River Hawks, completing the top five. From there, it is a quite a drop before finding another Hockey East team. Four other conference schools made the cut and were ranked in a bunch, beginning with UMass at 14, followed by Vermont, Boston College, and finally Boston University at 17. The Minutemen are up five spots, Vermont and BC hold their spots from last week, but BU dropped ten spots as the pollsters can no longer look past the record while considering expectations. The Terriers are 2-5 after losing two one goal contests this weekend, 1-0 to Northeastern and 3-2 to Maine.
With a very balanced conference (of the ten schools, five are ranked and four others earned votes in this week’s poll), parity is expected and no team seems to be separating itself from the rest of the pack at this early juncture. UMass was the only institution to step out of the conference, sweeping a home-and-home from Niagara. UMass-Lowell took three of four points this week with a tie in Vermont and a win against New Hampshire. Vermont also took three points with a win over Providence while UNH salvaged one point on the weekend with a tie against BC. The Eagles also earned three points by rebounding to beat Northeastern. This is an atypical development with Hockey East in recent years. The league has been pretty top heavy with the likes of BC, BU, and UNH winning the regular season and tournament titles. While those three teams have taken a step back, teams like UMass-Lowell and UMass have been improving almost yearly over the past few seasons and Northeastern took a big step forward last year.
This week’s lineup features all weekend pairings which could see someone break out or continue to keep the league’s power unclear. The River Hawks step out of conference and will travel to Alabama-Huntsville for their pair of games. The rest of the action is in-league, featuring Vermont at Boston College for two, UMass hosting UNH for a pair, and Maine making the trip south for a series at Northeastern. BU and Merrimack will be the biggest users of their bus this weekend as they will play a home-and-home.