We are nearing the final weekend of the Hockey East regular season, and while we’re not sure of the seedings yet, we do know that UConn will be competing and possibly hosting a quarterfinals series in the Hockey East Tournament. After a slow start to the season, the Huskies have had a terrific second half of the season, going 8-2 in their last 10 conference games. This week, we’re debating whether or not this team can continue this magical run to win the tournament this season.
I really believe this team has what it takes to win the Hockey East Tournament this year. The team has continuously improved throughout the season and has hit its peak at the perfect time. That’s what hockey is all about: getting hot at the right time. Look at the Stanley Cup Playoffs every year. Very rarely does the team with the best record win it all. There’s always a surprise team that gets hot and shocks the league with a big playoff run. I believe UConn could be that team in Hockey East this year. I have full confidence that the Huskies can beat any team that they will come up against in the tourney. They have an extremely deep roster that provides production on every line. More importantly, this team has a chip on its shoulder and something to prove after years of getting no respect in the conference. When I look at the teams they can play, only Boston College stands out as a team that would give UConn any significant trouble, but hockey is one of those sports where anybody can beat anybody. I honestly think that these UConn players have a mentality that they can beat anyone — even BC — and sometimes that’s all it takes, especially in a one-game championship.
— UConn Men's Hockey (@UConnMHOC) March 1, 2020
What this team has done in the second half of the year is nothing short of incredible. Going on a 8-2 run in the conference to not only secure a Hockey East tournament bid but also put themselves in position to host a tournament game is an amazing turnaround. While I do believe they can make a run in the tournament, I just don’t see them being able to win it all. This is for one reason, and one reason alone — Boston College. The BC Eagles have been nothing short of dominant this season, finding themselves ranked as the No. 4 team in the country by USCHO.com and USA Today. Not only that, but they had the UConn’s number from start to finish when the two teams played. The Eagles took Game 1 6-0, but the Huskies did get one back in Game 2. By one, I mean one goal, losing the game 5-1. Yes, that was all the way back in early November, and the team has grown tremendously since then, but it’s still hard to believe that it’s enough to beat BC, considering the Eagles jumped to the No. 4 spot in the country from the No. 19 spot when they first played.
You said it, UConn has grown tremendously since that rough series against BC in November. In fact, that series represented the low point of the season, as the Huskies fell to 2-5-1. Coach Cavanaugh, as well as multiple players, have repeatedly pointed to that series as the wake-up call that the team needed. Since then, the team has done nothing but get consistently better. I feel like this team actually wants to play BC in the tournament to show how far they’ve come and to show they’re a completely different team now. What better way is there to prove themselves to the rest of the conference than by beating the top team on the way to a championship? I think UConn knows that to show this run was not just a fluke, they’ll have to go all the way. So this team is talented enough, deep enough and motivated enough to win the tournament. And after back-to-back weeks with crazy comeback wins in the last minute, I feel like this team is destined for something special.
We clinched a playoff spot last night and blew the roof off XL Center! pic.twitter.com/PWTqh134fF
— UConn Men's Hockey (@UConnMHOC) February 29, 2020
Yes, they have gotten significantly better — but so has Boston College. As I’ve mentioned before, when they played the last time, BC was the No. 19-ranked team in the country, which is still very good, but it doesn’t compare to being No. 4. One of the biggest reasons UConn could make a run in the tournament is that they’re getting hot at the right time, winning eight of their last 10 conference games. But guess what, so has BC, as they are currently riding a six-game conference winning streak that could very well reach eight by the time the tournament comes around, with two games remaining versus the No. 9 UNH Wildcats. They have three of the top-20 players in points per game in the entire country, something that can only also be said for Harvard, as well as a top-10 goalie in goals-against average. Only two other goalies in Hockey East are also in the top 10, and they both hail from UMass — but BC’s Spencer Knight has over 800 more minutes in net than both of them. I guess anything can happen, but I’m really hoping that someone else takes care of BC before UConn has to play them.