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BC and BU will meet in next week’s 58th Beanpot final after each advanced Monday night by beating Harvard and Northeastern respectively. The Terriers and Eagles will meet in the final for the sixth time in last seven tourneys that the feat was possible (excluding the years when BC-BU is played on the first week). BC and Harvard danced for one period before the Eagles put the game away in the second and held on for the 6-0 shutout. The Terriers had a much more difficult time with Northeastern, finally pulling out a 2-1 win in the third period in an evening thriller. BU peppered the Huskies with multiple flurries, which they withstood, but the Terriers had just a little too much. BC will be gunning for its 15th title in its 29th finals appearance while the Terriers will be going for number 30 in their 47th championship game. The game next week will mark the fourth venue that the Commonwealth Ave. rivals will have played at this season. They have played at both Conte Forum and Agganis Arena, as well as Fenway Park and now the TD Banknorth Garden.
The pollsters in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Hockey Poll continue to show respect to Hockey East by ranking six of the ten teams in the Top 20. However, they seem to have difficulty separating them from each other. As the teams continue to inflict losses on one another, they have been bunching more and more in the second half of the poll. Most of the teams have consistently stayed in the second ten with BC or UNH primarily checking into the Top 10 now and then. This week, the six teams are ranked consecutively from 13 though 18, in order: UNH, BC, UMass, Maine, Vermont, and UMass-Lowell.
As for the national picture, Miami held onto the top spot with 43 of 50 votes. Denver leapt over Wisconsin, taking six of the remaining seven first place votes, as the Badgers held onto the final vote and fell only to third. St. Cloud State moved up one spot to fourth and Cornell moved back into the top five, up from eighth.
True to the poll, the league members can build no momentum as evidenced again this week. Only last place Providence seems vulnerable at the moment as they fell to both BC and UMass this week. However, even Merrimack is not an easy out, despite their ninth place standing, as they split with conference leader UNH this weekend. In other action, BU beat UMass, Maine took three of four points from Vermont, and Northeastern beat UMass-Lowell in their Beanpot tuneup.
Coming this week in games not involving the Beanpot, UNH has two games in Maine and BC plays at UMass in games that could further jumble the home ice prospects for the top teams. BU continues to climb as UMass-Lowell continues to slip and they will face each other. The River Hawks will also travel to Merrimack and likewise for Northeastern. Finally, Vermont will make the weekend trip, one of the longest among conference opponents, to Providence for two games.
A quick look at the standings shows UNH with 27 points and a five point cushion, making a split in that Maine series very important for them to pull away. BC and UMass have 22 points each while Maine has 20 to wrap the top four, who would have home ice in the first round of the playoffs right now. UMass-Lowell is fifth with 18 points with BU sixth with 16. Vermont and Northeastern are tied with 15 points and would round out the playoff field. Merrimack is three points out right now and Providence trails the Warriors by three with nine points.
Tags: Beanpot, Boston College, Boston University, College Hockey, Harvard University, Maine, Merrimack College, Northeastern University, Providence College, UMass, UMass-Lowell, University of New Hampshire, Vermont