Hockey East Power Rankings, March 5, 2013

UMass-Lowell freshman Connor Hellebuyck is a big reason the River Hawks are in first place.

UMass-Lowell sits atop this week's Hockey East Power Rankings.

With one final weekend to play in the Hockey East regular season, UMass-Lowell sits in first place, one point ahead of UNH and two ahead of Providence and Boston College. If the River Hawks hold on to the top position, they would be the first team outside of the "Big Four" (BC, BU, UNH and Maine) to win a Hockey East Regular Season Championship.

1. UMass-Lowell The River Hawks are on fire since December and currently riding a seven game winning streak. The offense is showing balanced scoring while the defense is executing coach Norm Bazin's game plan. The defense does a really good job of bottling up the neutral zone. Freshman Connor Hellebuyck has been excellent in net.

2. New Hampshire The Wildcats scored with just three seconds to play Friday night, forcing a tie with UMass. Dick Umile's team shut out the Minutemen the next night. UNH is just one point in back of Lowell with Maine coming to Durham for two this weekend.

3. Providence The Friars lost a close game at home Friday night before blowing out BC Saturday afternoon. Jon Gillies made a remarkable save in the game, highlighted on NESN, showcasing why he is such a difference maker.

4. Boston College Jerry York's club continues to have injury issues. Steven Whitney and Patrick Wey both missed time last weekend. Johnny Gaudreau has not been himself since being separated from Whitney. The Eagles will look to rebound from a 5-1 spanking at the hands of Providence when they visit UVM for two this weekend.

5. Boston University The Terriers up-and-down play continued over the weekend. BU picked up a nice win over Merrimack last Tuesday before getting outshot badly Friday night and then eventually losing Saturday in home games against UVM. The Terriers have the luxury of facing Northeastern for two this weekend.

6. Merrimack After a stretch of phenomenal play that saw the Warriors clamp down defensively and score just enough, Mark Dennehy's squad has now lost four in a row. Opposing teams have done a nice job of holding down Mike Collins' chances. Merrimack will have an opportunity to finish the regular season on a positive note this weekend against UMass before the post-season.

7. Vermont Kevin Sneddon's team picked up a crucial two points Saturday night at BU, but the Catamounts face a tough challenge with two games against BC this weekend. Fortunately for UVM, the games are in Burlington, and the Eagles have been hit hard by the injury bug. Chris McCarthy has been playing well for UVM.

8. Maine The Black Bears held on for three points against Northeastern, propelling them into the 8th and final playoff spot. Maine must match the point total of UMass this weekend in order to make the playoffs. Lately the Whittemore Center has been a house of horrors for Maine.

9. UMass-Amherst The Minutemen failed to hold on to the lead in the last 3 seconds against UNH Friday night and then got shut out Saturday. John Micheletto's squad has one last chance this weekend to move into the playoffs when they meet up with Merrimack. The Minutemen need to get up early on a Warriors squad that is struggling offensively.

10. Northeastern Severely shorthanded due to injuries, Northeastern put up a valiant effort in Orono. The Huskies just did not have the depth to make a consistent move up in the standings this season. Goalie Chris Rawlings let in more soft goals before being pulled during Saturday's contest. With no chance of making the playoffs, pride is the only thing left for Jim Madigan's club to play for this weekend.

Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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