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Hockey East Power Rankings: Providence on top; Lowell bounces back

10.28.13 at 9:05 am ET
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I like power rankings, so I’€™ll be doing them in place of the Wraparound once a month or so. Before we get to this week’€™s, I’€™d like to congratulate Hockey East on winning the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge. Way to stick it to those conference-killing jerks.

1. Providence (4-0-1)
The Friars are the only unbeaten team left in Hockey East, and they just beat and tied a very good Miami squad. We knew they had an outstanding goalie in Jon Gillies — and sure enough, he leads the country in save percentage among goalies with more than one start — but their offense has also been great, as they’€™re tied for first in the nation with 5.00 goals per game. Now, that number’€™s a little skewed by the 10-spot they dropped on a bad American International team, but even without that, they’€™ve averaged 3.75 goals per game in four games against good teams.

2. Notre Dame (5-1-0)
The Fighting Irish suffered their first loss on Saturday at Minnesota-Duluth, but they’€™re still off to a great start. That marked the first game in which they’€™ve allowed more than three goals, and they currently lead the league in team defense with a 1.83 goals against average. Freshman Vince Hinostroza (a sixth-round pick of the Blackhawks) has made an immediate impact, as he leads the team with eight points (3g, 5a).

3. Boston College (2-2-1)
Despite an ugly 6-1 loss at Minnesota on Sunday, I still think the Eagles are one of the top three teams in the league. They forced a 3-3 tie against the Gophers on Friday, and their dominant wins over Rensselaer and Wisconsin before that shouldn’€™t be forgotten. It will be interesting to see if Jerry York continues to rotate goalies, or if he rolls with freshman Thatcher Demko (who has a .924 save percentage in two games) after watching Brian Billett give up six goals on Sunday.

4. Massachusetts-Lowell (3-3-0)
It was a big bounce-back weekend for the River Hawks, who went on the road and beat Michigan State and Michigan a week after getting swept by Quinnipiac. Norm Bazin started Connor Hellebuyck in both games after rotating goalies the first two weeks of the season, and it paid off as the sophomore netminder stopped 62 of 64 shots. Lowell ranks second in the league in defense, but just ninth in offense.

5. Northeastern (5-1-0)
I’€™m still not really sold on the Huskies because they still haven’€™t played anyone all that good, but I also can’€™t really justify putting them any lower than this given their record. They were tested a little bit more this weekend, as they went on the road and ended up with a split against St. Lawrence. They continued to score (on the season, they’€™re tied with Providence when it comes to offensive output), but they also surrendered 73 shots and nine goals over the two games. Kevin Roy is still scoring at will — he’€™s tied for first in the country with 12 points (7g, 5a).

6. Boston University (3-3-0)
Unlike Lowell, the Terriers did not enjoy their trip to The Mitten State, as they suffered a pair of losses at the hands of Michigan and Michigan State. BU currently holds the dubious distinction of ranking last in the league in both shots per game (25.83) and shots against per game (35.33). That is not a recipe for success, and it could turn into a recipe for disaster if the Terriers don’€™t start to even things up. Fortunately for them, they’€™re getting some great goaltending from Sean Maguire (.941 save percentage) and Matt O’€™Connor (.936).

7. New Hampshire (1-3-1)
The Wildcats have had a tough schedule, and they’€™ve been in every game, but fact is they’€™re currently riding a four-game winless streak. They need to start scoring goals — they’€™ve been held to two or fewer in each of those four games, leaving them tied for last in the conference in offense. One random but interesting note: there has only been one third-period goal in a UNH game this season.

8. Maine (3-2-0)
The Black Bears swept UMass this weekend, winning in overtime on Friday before exploding for eight goals on Saturday, and now find themselves on a three-game winning streak. They’€™ve gotten some stellar production out of their freshman class, as Blaine Byron, Cam Brown and Josh Henke are all averaging a point per game.

9. Merrimack (2-3-0)
After scoring just two goals in their first three games, the Warriors have netted nine in their last two, both wins. But it’€™s worth noting that those games were against Mercyhurst and Army, who are a combined 1-7-1 this season. Merrimack has allowed the fewest shots per game in the league (23.40), and has the best shot differential per game (+10.80).

10. Vermont (1-1-1)
The Catamounts have only played three games, so they’€™re probably the toughest team to get a read on right now. Most recently, they beat Penn State 5-2 in Philadelphia in front of 17,632 fans. Their other two games were in North Dakota in front of 11,000-plus fans, so at the very least, the Catamounts know what it’€™s like to play in front of a big crowd. Another interesting note from Saturday’€™s game: UVM outshot Penn State 12-1 in the second period before getting outshot 23-6 in the third.

11. Massachusetts (2-4-0)
Apparently the Minutemen are a sweep-or-get-swept team. They lost to BU and Lowell on opening weekend, swept Michigan State the next weekend, then got swept by Maine this past weekend. Alex Wakaluk got his first career start on Saturday, and it was nothing short of a total disaster, as he surrendered six goals on 23 shots before getting yanked. Not a disaster: UMass’€™ power play, which leads the league at 32.4 percent.

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