For both the Norwich Cadets and the Vermont Catamounts it was a weekend to host hockey teams above them in the conference standings.
The results could not have been more different.
The Cadets, out of the USCHO Top 15 nationally in Division Three for the first time since 2009, made a statement. They topped the two teams above them in the New England Hockey Conference standings, beating Babson 5-1 on Friday night and finishing off UMass-Boston 4-2 on Saturday. The two wins will not help the Cadets salvage their 18th straight conference regular season title. That is out of reach. But they do lock down third place in the league, guaranteeing NU a home game in the league quarterfinals a couple of weeks down the road, and they serve notice that they will be a factor in that tournament wherever the games are played.
Oh if it were the same for the Catamounts. Vermont played host to Notre Dame, one of the top five upper crust teams in the Hockey East standings, and they played the Irish tough … twice. But as has been the case all season, Vermont just could not quite get over the hump. 2-1 and 3-1 loses to Notre Dame leave the Cats in a tight scramble for home ice in the Hockey East first round. But you get the feeling even if they do well in that round it will just be a prelude to a quick exit in round two when they would be matched up with the iron. Vermont can play with the big boys, but until they prove they can BEAT the big boys, it doesn’t much matter.