Hockey East: A Weekend in Review and a Weekend Preview

TJ FergusonCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2009

Last Week's Results

I'd like to start by saying that I have kind of slacked off this season writing about Hockey East and more importantly my Northeastern Huskies.  I've decided to start a weekly column where I will talk about last week's results, preview the upcoming week, and discuss the importance of the weekend for each team.

Now lets get to the good stuff!

Last weekend saw some interesting results in Hockey East.  The Providence College Friars debuted a new goalie from the junior leagues in Canada, Alex Beaudry.

Since joining the Friars, he is 3-0-1 including an upset of the No. 2 Boston University Terriers.  After beating the Terriers on Thursday, they went on to down the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Minutemen Saturday to pick up another win and then a tie with the University of Maine Blackbears on Sunday.

After the unexpected loss, BU went on to beat the Merrimack College Warriors and the #14 Boston College Eagles.

Boston College also lost to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell Riverhawks to see themselves fall in the rankings from No. 12.

The No. 5 Northeastern University Huskies and the No. 7 University of Vermont Catamounts split a weekend series at Matthews Arena in Boston.  NU fell from No. 2 to No. 5 and UVM climbed one spot from No. 8.

The other ranked team from Hockey East, the No. 11 University of New Hampshire Wildcats beat Dartmouth University in a non-conference matchup and climbed up from No. 13 in the rankings.Big Games This Weekend

Hockey East action kicks off tonight when last place Merrimack goes to Lowell to take on the Riverhawks.  All in all, this isn't a very important matchup, but Providence will be watching closely I imagine.

At the hands of their new goalie, the Friars have a renewed team and will start off the second half of the season hoping to finish with a playoff spot.  They are off to a great start and with a game in hand are just four points out of the playoffs behind Lowell.

There isn't much going on Friday night in terms of number of games, but they are all extremely important.

Providence gets another chance to prove their worth as they play host to the first-place Huskies kicking off the home-and-home weekend series between these squads.

Second-place BU is hosting UNH, who is in fourth place, and with a game in hand just two points behind the Terriers.

Then, third-place Vermont, who, also with a game in hand, is just one point behind the Terriers, will host the Minutemen who are in a three-way tie for sixth with Maine and Lowell.

Saturday is a little busier, featuring five games.  The three from Friday at the opposite locations, then adding Lowell at Merrimack and Maine at BC.

The Eagles are currently in fifth place and represent the border between the top and the bottom as they are closer to the teams below them then they are to the teams above them.

Merrimack is again proving to be the weak team in the conference as they are sitting in last place and with Providence looking to start a run, the Warriors might get awfully lonely in the cellar.

The weekend wraps up on Sunday at Boston College as the Eagles and Blackbears play the second installment of their weekend series in Chestnut Hill.What This Weekend Means to Everyone

Providence College has some catching up to do after getting off to an awful start.  While it is unlikely, and I haven't done the math so I may be wrong, but they may still have a shot at getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

The Friars really have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, at least a playoff spot, and if you can make the playoffs, anything is possible.

Northeastern University pulled off a similar first half run last year, then they got beat in a weekend series by Maine and finished the year off terribly.

In the second half of the season, they lost their national ranking and first place in the conference, then their home-ice advantage, then in the first round of the playoffs and somewhere along the line, their potential NCAA tournament berth.

This team needs to prove it is legitimate contender and continue to win and keep playing great hockey to stay atop the leader board and go into the Beanpot and postseason strong.

Boston College is coming off of a Beanpot Championship, Hockey East Championship, and a National Championship.  Now they are running the risk of falling pretty far down into the Hockey East standings and currently are looking at a road playoff matchup in the first round, which will be really tough to win. 

The Eagles are also slipping in the National Rankings and the Pairwise Rankings, which could mean no NCAA tournament bid for the reigning National Champions.

BU, UVM, and UNH are all stepping on each other in the standings.  A big weekend by either could mean setting themselves apart and with a little help from Providence, catching up to Northeastern.

The BU-UNH series is the biggest one of the weekend.  Both teams are looking for at least three points and both will be disappointed if they do not get them.

Maine, UMass, and UML are also stepping on each other, just in a different place in the standings.  They also have more to lose if they falter.

Rather than losing home-ice advantage or having to play a higher-ranked opponent, they may not even be playing.  With the push Providence is poised to make in the second half, you can't help but speculate that one of those teams will be replaced in the top eight.

Merrimack has been the Hockey East punching bag for a long time.  If Merrimack hopes to change that, they will need a strong second half.

If that doesn't start soon, it probably won't start at all, and if it does, it would probably be too late.

In conclusion, thank you for reading and LETS GO HUSKIES!!!!!!