As special as Ohio St vs Michigan is in any sport, St. Cloud St. vs North Dakota is anytime, or historic as Dartmouth vs Harvard in an Ivy League tilt is, this is the most important game of Friday night
UMass-Lowell vs Northeastern February 3 Boston, MA
Northeastern, which eeked out a 6-5 win over UMass-Amherst Tuesday night, needs to keep pace with the cream of the Hockey East crop. A better start than previous years, albeit not much, has NU still near the bottom of the league, but climbing. The Huskies are now 2 points behind UML after tonight’s win, giving them 4 straight wins, including a solid road win against the River Hawks this past Saturday. The Huskies have 6 Hockey East games remaining, including this UML game, all against the bottom of the league. They have the Beanpot the next two Mondays, so regardless of how that goes, this game is big. NU’s offense has been blazing hot, Zach Aston-Reese, Adam Gaudette, and Dylan Sikura are all leapfrogging for the NCAA points lead. Don’t forget this is the defending Hockey East Champs, they’re not going away easily.
UMass-Lowell hasn’t lived up to their lofty expectations this season. They have a decent overall record of 15-9-3 but a mediocre 7-7-1 in Hockey East play. They have beaten or tied some quality teams this year too, 2 ties vs Minnesota-Duluth, wins over Omaha, & SLU. Hockey East play is another matter, and that’s why this one is so important. UML needs to distance itself from the likes of NU, UNH, UVM, ND, & PC. They are just inside the NCAA tourney bubble, but from here on out its all Hockey East for the River Hawks. 4 home games against UNH,BU, BC, & UMass. They won’t catch BC or BU but they could catch the 3rd bye, if they can put it together. UML has a very steady roster anchored by the likes of Joe Gambardella, Dylan Zink, CJ Smith, & Jake Kamrass. And of course Norm Bazin finds a stud goalie to replace a stud goalie, Tyler Wall is playing exceptionally well for a freshman. This one could be the start of a run for UML or the continuation of one for NU.