Hockey East competition is storming into 2018 and teams are beginning to separate themselves. Northeastern officially claimed first place in the Army ROTC Hockey East Rankings with twenty-three points. Likewise, Boston College, although struggling lately is still right there with twenty-two. The Friars’ recent loss put an end to a golden opportunity to gain ground on Northeastern and Boston College. As a result, Providence has twenty-two points and now stands next to Boston University.
Providence College and UConn
The Friars took an early bus ride down to the XL Center on Thursday night for a home and away series against the Huskies. The Friars were led by “Silky Wilky” Josh Wilkins’s two goals on their way to a 3-1 victory. All three of Providence’s goals came in the first period. Vimal Sukumaran’s goal at the end of the period put the game away. Hayden Hawkey’s twenty-three saves continued his hot streak. Following Thursday’s game the Friars ran their unbeaten streak to seven in a row (6-0-1). Huskie goaltender Tanner Creel got just his 3rd start of the season. Creel, a senior, is filling in for the injured Adam Huska and has proved himself worthy. Creel made twenty-seven saves and did not allow any goals after the first period. UConn’s power play struggles cost them as they dropped their fifth straight.
Saturday night the two teams met again as no love was lost in a physical contest. The hits were coming like Pablo Sandoval to a buffet. Several skirmishes broke out and hard checks were occurring up and down the ice. Huskies took advantage of a strong opening period to take the lead 1-0. UConn later extended their lead to 2-0 following a sloppy hit after the whistle penalty from Friar Alternate Captain Vincent Desharnais. The Friars came back strong and Captain Brian Pinho put Providence College on the board. Tanner Creel and the Huskies’ defense stood tall, like a proud oak tree, and added an empty netter to secure the win. Important to realize, this snapped the Friars’ streak of seven straight games without a loss. Watch the highlights here.
UMass Amherst and Northeastern
The stride the Northeastern Huskies are on hit a road block. The number eight ranked Huskies could not put a tally on the board against freshman goalie Matt Murray and the UMass Minutemen. While unranked and in eighth place in the Army ROTC Hockey East Rankings, the Minutemen are securing big wins this season. Coach Greg Carvel credits this win and the win over the Friars as his highlight of the season. This win for the Minutemen was no cakewalk. Northeastern is number eight and in first place in Hockey East for a reason. Northeastern led with shots on goal but the game had no goals until UMass started hitting its groove.
Additionally, the freshmen got it done for UMass this game. Rookie Mitchell Chaffee put a redirector into the net past Cayden Primeau. Likewise, Chaffee added to his impressive game by sending home a power play goal. Not to mention, another freshman, Mario Ferraro got a drive going that junior, Austin Plevy, put in the bag and took it to check out. UMass outshot the Huskies 32-29. Northeastern could not get it done on the power play as they squandered their two man advantages. Matt Murray’s fifty-seven saves over the weekend earned him the Pro-Ambitions Rookie of the Week. Watch the highlights here. Northeastern cannot let off the gas again as they go up against the Providence College Friars next weekend.
Follow Matt McGurn on Twitter: @MickGurn
Cover photo courtesy of www.insidehockey.com