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Hockey East Power Rankings: BU stays on top with Lowell right behind

BU junior captain Matt Grzelcyk
BU junior captain Matt Grzelcyk
Matt Dewkett

Order was somewhat restored last week with Boston University and Boston College each posting three point weekends while UMass Lowell continued its march towards a three-peat with two more wins to remain the only Hockey East team without a blemish in league play.

Last week's Hockey East Power Rankings can be found here.

1. Boston University (10-3-2, 7-1-2 HE)

Jack Eichel and the Terriers got bottled up in a 1-1 tie at Merrimack, but bounced back with a key win on home ice. It seems absurd to suggest such a game this early in the season was a big contest, but it was. BU had been struggling and needed to prove it was still up to the task. BU finishes up the regular season portion of the first half schedule with a trip to face RPI in Troy this Saturday.

Last Week: T 1-1 (OT) at Merrimack, W 4-2 vs. Merrimack

This Week: at Rensselaer (12/13)

2. UMass Lowell (10-3-3, 7-0-2 HE)

Norm Bazin's team didn't look particularly solid in either game this week, but that's more the reason to like its continued lack of a loss in league play. A different player seems to step up each night for the River Hawks. This writer is still not sold on Kevin Boyle between the pipes, but all other signs point to a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament for UMass Lowell.

Last Week: W 6-4 vs. UConn, W 3-2 (OT) vs. Maine

This Week: Idle

3. Vermont (11-3-1, 7-3-1 HE)

Catamount fans will be screaming that their team was dropped in the rankings despite being idle. This has much less to do with anything UVM did or didn't do, but rather what Lowell continues to do. Vermont has an interesting opportunity this weekend to put more inflation in their already Hockey East-leading Pairwise stock.

Last Week: Idle

This Week: vs. St. Lawrence (12/12), at St. Lawrence (12/13)

4. Boston College (8-7-1, 4-4-1 HE)

It doesn't take a hockey genius to realize the Eagles will rely on defense and goaltending to get by this season. That should have been apparent before the season began, but after seeing this team this weekend, it is obvious that BC will be just fine come February. Jerry York's team most likely won't be lifting any hardware at the TD Garden in April, but this is hardly a bad BC team. It's below average for the lofty expectations put forth by such a storied program, but this writer is betting on another 20-win season when it's all said and done.

Last Week: T 2-2 (OT) at New Hampshire, W 4-2 vs. New Hampshire

This Week: vs. Michigan (12/13)

5. Providence (8-6-1, 6-4-0 HE)

The Friar defense and Jon Gillies remain on point, but the up-and-down Providence offense reared its ugly head on Saturday afternoon. Without looking it up it would seem as though Gillies' 7-6-1 with a 1.82 goals against average and .940 save percentage is a record you don't often see with statistical numbers as good as that. One good sign for the Friars is the three goals and two assists Ross Mauermann has collected over the last three games. The senior and returning leading scorer had just two points, both assists, in his first 12 games of the year.

Last Week: W 5-1 at Northeastern, L 1-2 vs. Northeastern

This Week: Idle

6. Notre Dame (8-8-2, 4-2-2 HE)

In this column last week it was opined that a trip to Amherst was just what the doctor ordered for Notre Dame. That came to fruition with the Fighting Irish returning to South Bend with four points. Jeff Jackson's team used a big third period to comeback and win Friday before completely smothering a hapless UMass squad on Saturday.

Last Week: W 7-5, W 4-0 at Massachusetts

This Week: Idle

7. Merrimack (10-5-2, 4-4-1 HE)

Earning a point against one of the best teams in the country might not seem like reason enough to drop the Warriors in the rankings, but it's more to do with the continued concern that Mark Dennehy's team will be unable to win away from Lawler Rink on a consistent basis. Merrimack will likely rack up several more wins in the cozy confines in North Andover, but road struggles will keep Merrimack in this range, fighting for a home ice spot in the first round.

Last Week: T 1-1 (OT) vs. Boston University, L 2-4 at Boston University

This Week: Idle

8. Northeastern (3-9-1, 2-5-1 HE)

After jubilation in the Huskies fandom following an upset win over Minnesota, Matthews Arena turned right back into doom and gloom with an ugly midweek home loss to Providence. Jim Madigan's team responded a few nights later with a nice 2-1 victory on the road against the very same Friars. This team, with the way it is currently constituted, will likely be up and down for much of the second half.

Last Week: L 1-5 vs. Providence, W 2-1 at Providence

This Week: Idle

9. Connecticut (3-8-4, 2-4-1 HE)

As Mike Cavanaugh said following his team's first half-ending loss at Lowell, the Huskies are probably better than their record indicates. In its first season in Hockey East, UConn has been in all but one game and has some legitimate building blocks for the future. The second half will be difficult, but this feels like a reasonable spot for now.

Last Week: L 4-6 at UMass Lowell

This Week: Idle

10. New Hampshire (4-9-1, 1-5-1 HE)

There were times that UNH played inspired hockey this weekend, but in the end, it wasn't enough. The Wildcats took one of four points from the Eagles, a troubling result considering the hole Dick Umile's team has already dug. UNH lacks speed and despite some guys with individual skill, the team as a whole lacks a game changer or two that fans at the Whittemore Center became so accustomed to in the late 90s and through the first decade of this century. Umile took the high road and didn't blame inexperience or youth, but the Wildcats are playing minus their top four defensemen from a year ago now with the injury to Brett Pesce.

Last Week: T 2-2 (OT) vs. Boston College, L 2-4 at Boston College

This Week: vs. Maine (12/12), vs. Maine (12/13)

11. Maine (3-12-1, 2-6-0 HE)

The Black Bears road woes continued on Saturday night. Now 1-18-3 in Red Gendron's tenure in road games, Maine likely deserved a better fate at the Tsongas Center, but that's how puck luck usually works when a team is struggling like the Black Bears are. The scoring drought of junior captain and returning All-American Devin Shore is even more puzzling. The Dallas Stars draft pick has been held off the score sheet in four straight games.

Last Week: L 2-3 (OT) at UMass Lowell

This Week: vs. New Hampshire (12/12), vs. New Hampshire (12/13)

12. Massachusetts (4-11-0, 1-9-0 HE)

The Minutemen taking more penalties (16) than they did shots on goal (14) in their 4-0 home loss against Notre Dame sums up how poorly things are going in Amherst. A combined team save percentage of .862 also accurately depicts how awful the defense is and how the goaltending isn't much better. Redshirt sophomore Frank Vatrano is one of the lone bright spots on John Micheletto's struggling squad.

Last Week: L 5-7, L 0-4 vs. Notre Dame

This Week: Idle

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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.