It was a series you circled when the schedules were announced: Boston University and Providence, a rematch of last year’s national title game. And though fans were probably entertained at each venue, neither night of the home-and-home series produced a winner. That leads the three things I learned this weekend.
1. When it comes to Providence and BU, there’s little separating the pair
Friday night it was a late Ahti Oksanen goal with the goalie pulled. Saturday featured a three-goal rally for BU before Providence tied the game late. Regardless, both games in the rematch of last year’s national title game produced ties. While neither team is really satisfied with a pair of draws, BU might feel most fortunate given it held a lead for just 77 seconds of the 130 minutes on the weekend. But that lead was a third-period advantage and the Terriers had all the momentum having scored three third-period goals to overcome a 2-0 deficit. So it’s difficult to say either team came away from the weekend feeling either good or bad, but the reality is both of these teams proved there is little separating two of Hockey East’s top teams.
2. Lowell has reached its Boyle-ing point
While it has been easy to tout Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko after he posted his fifth and sixth shutouts (in a span of seven total games) last weekend against Maine, but lost in that shadow has been the play of Lowell goaltender Kevin Boyle. Boyle was 33 seconds away from a shutout on Friday against Maine. It would’ve been his second straight and third of the season. He got that third shutout, though, two nights later when he blanked the Black Bears on Sunday in Orono. That leaves Boyle with a stingy 1.26 goals against average, slightly off Demko’s league-best 1.00 GAA mark. That is a major reason that the River Hawks are off to the best start in the program’s Division I history at 8-1-2.
3. Then there’s the flip side: a Maine offense that isn’t scoring
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when goaltenders like Demko and Boyle are putting up impressive numbers that some teams in the league might be struggling to score goals. But for Maine (which has faced that goaltending pair over the last two weekends) its anemic offense is getting to a critical state. The Black Bears offense is ranked 60th – dead last – in the nation, averaging just one goal per game (11 goals in 11 games). Part of the problem is Maine’s power play which, despite scoring once Friday, still ranks 58th nationally, converting at a 6.7 percent clip. A solid goaltender, which rookie Rob McGovern has been much of the year (Sunday’s performance where he allowed four goals in the first period not withstanding), can only carry a team so far. Maine needs to start scoring, simply put.