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Weekend in review: Mind the gap

February 5, 2008

Is the talent disparity in Hockey East shaking out? We think so. There are three teams that are clearly head and shoulders above the rest this year, and the abyss between those three and the rest of the league seems to be widening.

New Hampshire is the clear front-runner in the league this year, and in their one game this weekend, the Wildcats smoked Vermont 5-1. Fair enough, and not unexpected.

Then there’s BC, which also played just one game this weekend. The result: A late-game 3-2 loss to surging Providence, who went on to tie Merrimack (though the Friars deserved better) 1-1 the next night. That’s a three-point weekend for a now-No. 12 Friars, and they’re only getting better. They started out slow, but with two games each against Vermont, Merrimack and BU, it might get ugly.

The thing is this, though, Providence has home-and-homes with both BC and UNH left this season, and BC and UNH have a home-and-home as well. That’s going to be three weekends with just a combined 12 points up for grabs for the Big 3 (™ and © RHHB 2008, all rights reserved) and it will almost certainly make the finishes of the Bottom Seven look closer than they actually were.

The Big Three just looked down from its ivory tower and laughed as the Hockey East proletariat fought it out between themselves in vain.

Lowell snuck by a very uninspiring Maine team and fell to an equally bland Vermont team two days later. That, by the way, is the same Vermont team that had gotten its skull kicked in by UNH on Friday night.

BU beat Merrimack 4-1 in its Beanpot tune-up, while NU shut out UMass 1-0. Further yawn-inducing affairs. On Saturday, Maine fell to the now-18th-ranked Minutemen of UMass.

As we type this, Northeastern is down 3-1 to Harvard in the first Beanpot game. So it goes.

This year, Hockey East might once again send five teams to the NCAA tournament, and the league will be able to say, “Look how strong we are.” But we’ll know the truth. This is ugly, cannibalistic hockey. Strong or weak, there’s hardly any middle ground at all.

Our Weekly Awards
Player of the Week:
Kory Falite, UMass Lowell (sophomore forward) – A noodle-scratcher to be sure this week, but we went with Falite because of his big three-point weekend. Falite scored a goal against both Maine and Vermont and picked up an assist on Ben Holmstrom’s goal against the Catamounts as well. We chose Falite over Holmstrom, who had a four-point weekend, because his goals were important to the ‘Hawks. One put them up 2-0 on Maine, the other gave them a spark of hope against Vermont on the road.
(Honorable mention: Ben Holmstrom, UML; Tyler Sims, PC)

Rookie of the Week:
Nick Bonino, Boston University (freshman forward) – Bonino had a goal and an assist in the Terriers’ 4-1 win over Merrimack, but won the award by being the only non-Minuteman rookie that did anything of note.
(Honorable mention: James Marcou (we guess), UMass; Paul Dainton* (begrudgingly), UMass)

Ham-n-Egger of the Weak:
Rob Bellamy (senior forward) and Wes Clark (senior forward), Maine – We were debating which one of these clowns had the straphangin’-est weekend, and it was too close to call. Bellamy, of course, is the gutless puke who went after Ben Holmstrom in the dying seconds of Lowell’s 3-2 win. A diving crosscheck to the head against one of our favorite River Hawks will get you rung up for this “award” every time.

Clark, though, overcame a two-goal performance on Friday night to earn this award through sheer force of will. After a second loss to Lowell in as many meetings, Clark told the Portland Press-Herald that the ‘Hawks are “not very talented.” Smart. If that’s the case, maybe Maine should get less talented and actually climb back into a playoff spot. Lowell’s comfortable where it’s at.
(Dishonorable mention: Mike Spillane, Vermont)

An egg salad sandwich is the perfect dressing room snack after an untalented team outscores you 9-2 in two games.

Permanent Tomato Cans:
Maine Black Bears (8-13-3, 0-2 this weekend)
Vermont Catamounts (7-10-7, 1-1 this weekend)
UMass Minutemen (10-9-6, 1-1 this weekend)

National Poll

Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Miami (50) 25- 3-0 1000 1
2 Michigan 22- 3-3 902 2
3 North Dakota 17- 8-2 887 3
4 Colorado College 20- 7-1 874 6
5 New Hampshire* 16- 7-1 790 7
6 Michigan State 18- 6-5 764 5
7 Denver 18- 8-0 695 4
8 Notre Dame 20- 9-1 628 8
9 Boston College* 12- 6-7 577 9
10 Minnesota-Duluth* 11- 9-6 460 12
11 Wisconsin 12-11-5 440 11
12 Providence* 12- 9-3 426 14
13 Clarkson 15- 9-2 418 10
14 Northeastern* 12- 8-3 407 13
15 Minnesota State 13-10-4 244 NR
16 Quinnipiac 15- 7-4 218 16
17 Mass.-Lowell 12- 9-4 197 16
18 Massachusetts* 10- 9-6 186 15
19 Princeton 12- 9-0 111 19
20 Minnesota 12-12-6 107 18
Others Receiving Votes: St. Cloud State 50, Union 31, Niagara 30, Cornell* 25, Michigan Tech 18, Air Force 6, RIT 4, Bowling Green 2, Army 1, Bemidji State 1, Nebraska-Omaha 1

UMass Lowell 2007-08 opponents bolded

Hockey East Weekly Awards
Player of the Week: Matt Taormina, PC
Rookie of the Week: James Marcou, UMass
Defensive Player of the Week: Andrew Braithwaite, Merrimack
Honor roll: Brett Bennett, BU; Nick Bonino, BU; Wes Clark, Maine; Greg Collins, PC; Kory Falite, UML; Joe Fallon, UVM; Matt Fornataro, UNH; Chris Higgins, BU; Ben Holmstrom, UML; Jonathan Maniff, UML; Paul Dainton*, UMass; Cory Quirk, UMass; Kevin Regan, UNH; Tyler Sims, PC; Brad Thiessen, NU

Weekend results (home team bolded)
UNH 5, Vermont 1
UML 3, Maine 2
Providence 3, BC 2
Northeastern 1, UMass 0
BU 4, Merrimack 1

UMass 5, Maine 3
Providence 1, Merrimack 1 (ot)

Vermont 3, UML 2

Harvard 3, Northeastern 1
BC-BU, 8 p.m.

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