When Boston College went into Matthews Arena to open its season with a 3-1 loss to the Northeastern Huskies, there was lots of reason to wonder if maybe BC wasn't the team they'd been in years past. But that was two weeks ago, and four big Eagles victories later, they sit atop the Hockey East rankings and atop the first conference Power Poll of the year.
Good weekends by UNH, Merrimack and BU have those programs flying high as well, but as usual, everyone's looking up at BC yet again.
1. Boston College
Since the defeat on Huntington Avenue, BC has outscored its opposition 15-7, including shutout efforts against Northeastern at home and Lowell on the road. There's nothing about BC that says it shouldn't be the best team in the country, much less the conference, and the production isn't just coming from Kevin Hayes and Johnny Gaudreau, either.
2. New Hampshire
BU swept their weekend series against UMass, while UNH couldn't find the back of the net in their first trip away from the Whittemore Center this season. But UNH was a much better team against the Terriers last weekend in Durham, overmatching them in all facets of the game. Hard not to wonder where the two teams would be if their game last weekend wasn't on an olympic sheet.
3. Boston University
BU fans won't like being beneath BC, much less beneath anyone else, but until the Terriers can beat a ranked team, it's tough to consider them a contender for Boston College's top spot. The Terriers have handled UMass twice and Providence, but their trip to Durham last weekend left Jack Parker's squad looking overmatched.
It's anyone's guess as to whether or not Bryan Mountain earned himself another start when the Huskies renew pleasantries with Merrimack next weekend, but if Northeastern can get the kind of goaltending they've traditionally got from Chris Rawlings supplemented by the 44-shot shutout that they get from Mountain Saturday night against UNH, they're going to be making quite a bit of noise long into the winter.
It's tough to tell just what Merrimack is right now. Yes, they're a young team, but Mark Dennehy's squad had a great effort to open the year against Union and followed it up by tripping over themselves against Northeastern and in Alaska. A good weekend against Vermont puts the Warriors firmly in the middle of the Hockey East pack, but they've got a long way to go to get back to where they've been the past few seasons.
The Friars can credit their schedule for putting them in this spot right now, but until Lowell can win a conference game, it's hard to look at the RiverHawks as the Top 15 team that they've been all season. Yes, Providence got handed a god-awful Maine squad this weekend, but they did what they were supposed to do - won. That's what good teams do. And Providence is starting to look like a very good team.
It's hard not to pull for the RiverHawks, whether it's because you don't like the thought that last year was a fluke or because you appreciate a non-Boston team playing a starring role in the conference after January, but apart from the play of goaltender Doug Carr, there haven't been many bright spots yet for Norm Bazin's squad.
At this point in the season, at the bottom of the list, you get ranked higher when you have more points than other teams. And that's exactly what Vermont has.
Nobody's expected much from UMass this season, and so far the Minutemen have lived up to expectations, losing all three of their conference games. But they gave BC and BU a run for their money in consecutive weekends, so there's definitely something to be said for their heart. Which is in direct contrast to the team below them.
No offense, no defense, questionable goaltending even on the greatest of days. A lot of that is familiar to those who have followed Tim Whitehead's bunch the past few years, but the no offense part is a new problem that has reared its head early and often. Their 3.14 goals allowed per game wouldn't be a big concern on a team that still had the likes of Gustav Nyquist, but when you're averaging just 1.14 per and have been shut out three times (including once by St. Lawrence), you're in trouble.