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Weekend in review: Setting things up nice. Nicey nice

March 4, 2008

Headed into the final weekend of the season and only one thing is settled. In an ideal world, this is how Hockey East would be every year.

So many things happened that prevented anyone from solidifying their spot, save for already-No. 1 UNH, of course. Vermont and BU might be feeling good now, tied for second at 29 points. But because they both earned splits this weekend (with bottom-dwelling Maine and UMass, respectively), and have yet to solidify home ice, and could finish anywhere from second to fifth. Vermont faces the colossal task of taking points from UNH at the Whitt this weekend, and BU will face ever-dangerous Providence in a home and home.

Providence, by the way, is tied for fourth with BC, just two points behind BU and UVM (thanks to PC taking three points from the Eagles this weekend) at 27. That, in our ever so humble opinion, makes that Terriers-Friars tilts the series to watch this weekend. Both teams have home ice at stake, and both will be praying that BC falters against NU this weekend.

UML and NU are up next, tied for sixth with 24 points thanks to Lowell’s sweep of the free-falling Huskies. Lowell, of course, will travel to Orono to close out the season in a building in which it has not won since 2000. The Huskies, as we mentioned, will play BC. By some miracle, both Lowell and NU can still earn home ice.

Now we come to the hilarious part of the standings, where two of UMass, Maine and Merrimack will finish out of the playoffs. Merrimack, of course, has probably played the best hockey of the group over the past two weeks, sweeping Providence a fortnight ago and stealing a point from UNH this weekend. UMass (19 points) and Maine (17), while they split, are mediocre teams playing mediocre hockey. Merrimack (15) will face UMass in the “well, if you can’t see BU-PC, watch this” series that will determine at least one playoff outsider. UMass will be without the services of Martin Nolet on Friday. He picked up a DQ for fighting Bryan McGuirk at Amherst on Saturday.

Our Weekly Awards
Player of the Week:
Mike Potacco, UMass Lowell (junior forward) – Who saw THIS coming? Potacco picked up his first career hat trick on Friday in Lowell’s much-needed overtime win against Northeastern, then had a just-okay night, scoring the River Hawks’ second goal on Saturday. Come on, Mike, we’re gonna need multiple goal-performances every night from now on. One ain’t cutting it.
(Honorable mention: Andrew Braithwaite, Merrimack)

Rookie of the Week:
Wade MacLeod, Northeastern (freshman forward) – Yeah, we know we promised him honorable mention POTW, but he played so well we forgot he was a rookie. We apologize for the oversight. Anyhow, MacLeod picked up five points on three goals and two assists, and gets the Lowell Bump for doing it in front of us and hurting our feelings.*
(Honorable mention: Paul Worthington, UMass Lowell)
*The Lowell Bump is in no way affiliated with the Colbert Bump, Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, or the New York Times Best Seller “I am America (and So Can You!)” by Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA

Ham-n-Eggers of the Week:
The New England Sports Network – This might get us on Kathryn Tappen’s bad side (not where we want to be), but seriously, Maine-Vermont? Who would want to watch that south of Burlington? A clue: no one. NESN did, however, make the right choice in opting to televise the PC-BU game at Agganis Arena on Friday.
(Dishonorable mention: The three teams that couldn’t lock up home ice against weak opponents)

Permanent Tomato Cans:
Maine Black Bears (11-16-3, 1-1 this weekend)
Vermont Catamounts (12-11-7, 1-1 this weekend)
UMass Minutemen (12-13-6, 1-1 this weekend)

National Poll

Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 North Dakota (37) 23- 8-2 982 2
2 Michigan (12) 27- 5-4 952 1
3 New Hampshire* ( 1) 22- 7-3 895 3
4 Miami 29- 6-1 839 5
5 Colorado College 24- 9-1 820 4
6 Michigan State 23- 9-5 739 6
7 Denver 22-11-1 679 7
8 Clarkson 20-10-4 648 10
9 Minnesota State 17-13-4 568 9
10 Boston College* 16-10-8 554 8
11 St. Cloud State 17-14-3 468 12
12 Notre Dame 22-12-4 437 11
13 Wisconsin 15-14-7 420 13
14 Minnesota 14-13-9 257 17
15 Princeton 17-12-0 246 14
16 Boston University* 15-15-4 202 16
17 Providence* 14-13-5 195 19
18 Minnesota-Duluth* 12-14-6 194 15
19 Harvard 14-11-4 154 20
20 Niagara 19- 9-4 57 NR
Others Receiving Votes: Vermont* 51, Mass.-Lowell 31, Northeastern* 21, Ferris State 18, Michigan Tech 16, Army 15, Cornell* 11, RIT 11, Bemidji State 8, Air Force 6, Union 4, Quinnipiac 2

*2007-08 Lowell opponent

Hockey East Weekly Awards
Player of the Week: Mike Potacco, UML
Rookie of the Week: Wade MacLeod, NU; Jordan Kremyr, Providence
Defensive Player of the Week: Andrew Braithwaite, Merrimack
Honor roll: Brett Bennett, BU; Ben Bishop, Maine; Nick Bonino, BU; Scott Campbell, UML; Paul Dainton*, UMA; Danny Dries, UNH; Maury Edwards, UML; Joe Fallon, UVM; Barry Goers, UML; Ian O’Connor, PC; Corey Quirk, UMA; Rob Ricci, MC; Billy Ryan, Maine; Tyler Sims, PC; Craig Switzer, UNH

Weekend results (home team bolded)
BU 3, UMass 0
UML 5, NU 4 (ot)
UNH 2, Merrimack 1
PC 3, BC 2
UVM 2, Maine 0

Maine 3, Vermont 0
Lowell 3, NU 2
UMass 5, BU 1
UNH 1, Merrimack 1 (ot)
BC 2, PC 2 (ot)

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