Chaos has been the name of the game in NCAA women’s hockey this year. It seems that every week, another top team has a head-scratching loss to a scrub program.
The Hockey East league schedule has been no exception to this. While the top teams in the league aren’t quite as good as they were last season, it seems that the bottom of the conference isn’t quite the dumpster fire it has been in years past. The middle and bottom tier teams aren’t bottoming out the national rankings in the KRACH and Pairwise, and it’s made for some interesting results.
That said, there are still only three competitive teams in Hockey East, and there is clear stratification between the three. Let’s see how their paths to the league title look.
#3: Boston University Terriers
10-5-1 (6-5-0 WHEA) — 12 points in 11 games.
Record Against the Top Three: 1-3-0 (win vs. BC)
Bad Losses: 4-1 @ Maine, 3-1 @ Vermont
Win% of Remaining WHEA Schedule: 0.491
BU lost a bevy of contributing players to graduation last year, and it’s really showing on the scoreboard. While they aren’t the only top program to have been beaten by terrible Maine (...cough...), their poor record against the top two teams is going to make it very difficult for them to climb back into contention.
How difficult? Even if the Terriers manage to sweep their last two big games against BC and Northeastern at the end of the season, they would still not control their own destiny against either team: Northeastern would hold the tiebreaker on them, and BC would still be at least ahead of them in the standings — even taking the game in hand into account.
#2: Northeastern Huskies
11-4-3 (7-2-2 WHEA) — 16 points in 11 games
Record Against the Top Three: 2-1-1 (both wins against BU)
Bad Losses: 3-2 vs. Merrimack
Win% of Remaining WHEA Schedule: 0.478
Like BU, Northeastern is also going to need help to catch the team ahead of them — BC — even if they win their final head to head matchup. BC is three points up and the Huskies have just one game in hand.
Fortunately for NU, their tiebreaker scenario isn’t quite as bleak as it is for BU. While a Northeastern win over BC in their final matchup would not give the Huskies the head to head tiebreaker (the teams would sit at 1-1-1 against each other), should the Eagles drop a point with another tie in the standings, the next tiebreaker would go to their record against BU, likely the third place team. Already up 2-0 on the Terriers with a game to play, the Huskies could probably seal the tiebreaker against both BC and BU by winning both of those final two games matchups.
#1: Boston College Eagles
10-3-3 (9-2-1 WHEA) — 19 points in 12 games
Record Against the Top Three: 2-1-1 (one win each against NU and BU)
Bad Losses: 3-2 @ Maine
Win% of Remaining WHEA Schedule: 0.443
While they aren’t going all Sherman-Through-The-South on the league like they did last year, the Eagles are still the clear favorite to win the league. Despite dropping a game to BU and a tie Northeastern so far, BC has set themselves up with a nice little cushion at the top of the conference standings.
The Eagles also have the easiest league schedule the rest of the way compared to BU and NU. While some of that is the product of not having to face themselves, and there’s frankly not that much difference between the “best worst” and “worst worst” teams in the league, it also helps that BC has yet to play conference newcomer Merrimack, while the Huskies and Terriers have one game left against the Warriors combined.
Still, the season is only half over, and with the entire sport’s results falling into chaos this season, it would be foolish to expect any of these three teams to run the table — in conference or otherwise — the rest of the way. There will no doubt be some unpleasant surprises in store for everyone in the second half.