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Weekend Reax: Maine flops at Minnesota Duluth

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Every week, TMR editor Mike McMahon takes VIP members on a trip around Hockey East and reacts to this past weekend …

Maine vs. Minnesota Duluth was the biggest series of the weekend for my money. I’ve believed since the preseason that Maine was a much-improved team that could take some big steps in Hockey East this season, and I was excited to see how the Black Bears would face the challenge of playing the defending national champions, on the road.

Well, it didn’t go well.

Maine got blown out, 8-2, on Friday night before losing a closer 3-2 game on Saturday.

The Friday night game was ugly. Maine had just six shots in the first two periods combined (UMD had a 32-6 shot edge after two periods) and the Bulldogs were leading 7-0. Yup, you read that correctly, through two periods, UMD had more goals than Maine had shots on net. Shot attempts in the game were 74-31 for UMD and the Bulldogs had a mind-boggling 66-25 edge in shot attempts at even strength.

This was total domination. No other way to put it. Maine looked like it didn’t belong.

The score was closer on Saturday night, but Maine still didn’t look like it belonged on the same sheet as Duluth. Shots were 44-20 for UMD and attempts finished at 75-34 (53-28 at even strength). The biggest difference on Saturday was that Jeremy Swayman wasn’t awful like he was on Friday, when he allowed seven goals on 32 shots.

Impressive weekend for UMass at Ohio State

Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the country and the Buckeyes were in last year’s Frozen Four. This team is no slouch, and UMass went on the road this weekend and picked up an impressive split. The Minutemen took care of business against a much-weaker RPI opponent the prior week and now sit at 3-1 coming into this weekend’s series against Merrimack.

UMass got a little lucky on Friday, as any team does when they score six goals, but the biggest takeaway was that even on Saturday, UMass wasn’t outplayed. These were two relatively even games, which means UMass looked like it matched up with one of the best teams in the nation, on the road.

Boston College loses again

BC fell to Quinnipiac, 1-0, on Friday night and the Eagles are now (like Boston University) 0-3 on the season. But it goes even beyond that. BC is 0-20-4 in their last 24 non-conference games, which is incomprehensible when you consider how much success the Eagles have had in Hockey East. They won the league regular-season title last year! The game on Friday night was a pretty even game, but the Bobcats were able to keep BC’s offense quiet.

UConn recovers from Providence pounding

UConn was run out of the arena on Friday night by Providence, losing 7-2. But the Huskies responded with a 3-2 win over RPI on Saturday. UConn has started the season 2-2, but the Huskies haven’t played a home game yet; they’ll play two games against Maine this weekend at the XL Center.

Metrics aren’t usually on your side on the road, and UConn has struggled (45.9% Corsi). UConn’s PDO is also at 102.01, which is slightly high considering their talent level. To me, the biggest story with UConn right now is the struggle of goaltender Adam Huska (.889 save percentage).

UMass Lowell splits at Miami

Goaltender Tyler Wall looks like he might be back for UMass Lowell. After a horrific sophomore season, Wall started both games this weekend as the River Hawks split a series at Miami. Wall made 36 saves on Friday night in a 3-0 shutout and then stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced in a 2-1 loss. Wall has started three games for Lowell this season — Christoffer Hernberg has only made one start — and Wall has posted a .968 save percentage.

The biggest concern for Lowell will be who scores their goals, and that’s something that’s starting to play out. Connor Wilson has three goals in four games, but his 37.5 shooting percentage is absurd and not at all sustainable. Ryan Dmowski will score more, based on his shot output. But Wilson, Kenny Hausinger (37.5%) and Sam Knoblauch (28.6%) will likely score less than their current projection, based on super-high shooting percentages.

New Hampshire still winless

UNH, like UConn, hasn’t played a home game yet, and the Wildcats will enter their home opener this Saturday winless.

UNH lost a pair at Colgate last weekend and then this past weekend they tied and lost at Colorado College.

It’s not all bad news, though. UNH played really well against CC, and were victimized by some hot goaltending (on CC’s side) and some poor goaltending (on their side).

Freshman Ty Taylor started for UNH on Saturday night and allowed three goals in 10 minutes. That put UNH in a 3-1 hole (Ara Nazarian scored) but UNH clawed its way back and even scored an extra-attacker goal late in the third period. That’s a good character-building game for a UNH team that’s trying to find some identity.

Northeastern loses two against Union

This is really no surprise. Union is older and just more talented. Northeastern lost too much offensive firepower to be considered real threats in Hockey East this season, and some of the players brought in to help alleviate that void just aren’t playing well. Liam Pecararo, a transfer from Maine, has six points in four games and he looks solid. Former UMass forward (and Merrimack recruit) Austin Plevy has no points in four games, and he’s registered just one shot on goal. Yikes.

Providence lets one slip away

Providence ran UConn out of the building on Friday night, 7-2, and then let one slip away against Sacred Heart on Saturday. There are good ties and bad ties, and I’m sure Nate Leaman isn’t feeling good about the 2-2 tie the Friars had on Saturday night. PC led 2-0 in the first period before Sacred Heart slowly chipped away at the deficit, tying the score with under three minutes left in the game.

The Pioneers really turned the tide in the second period, limiting Providence to just four shots.

Hockey East Power Rankings

Each week, I’ll re-project the final Hockey East standings based on a projection model that uses KRACH as a measure of the strength of schedule, combined with goal and shot differential …

  1. Providence
  2. Boston College
  3. Boston University
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Maine
  6. Northeastern
  7. UMass Lowell
  8. Merrimack
  9. Connecticut
  10. Vermont
  11. New Hampshire

 

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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