Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hockey East Power Rankings, Week of October 29, 2012

1. Boston College: The Eagles only setback came at Northeastern. Coach Jerry York's squad has looked vulnerable at times, needing a huge comeback to beat UMass-Amherst. The top two lines have played really well and provided all the scoring. The third and fourth lines have been held scoreless through five games. Freshman defenseman Michael Matheson has looked polished for a rookie. Until proven otherwise, the Eagles are the kings of Hockey East.

2. New Hampshire: Dick Umile's squad has looked solid in the early going, after a down year in 2011-2012. Casey DeSmith has continued his strong play from the second half of last season between the pipes and the Wildcats have gotten scoring from several contributors. John Henrion and Grayson Downing should eventually take the lead in the scoring charts, but there will be some depth in Durham this year.

3. Boston University: The Terriers will rely on a youth movement this year, with two freshman goalies and a crop of talented underclassmen. So far, the only blemish was against UNH on the road. BU certainly has more talent than any other team in the league besides BC, but playing a solid 60 minutes of hockey has been a problem in recent years for Jack Parker's squad.

4. Providence: The upstart Friars have started off strong, with the only two losses coming against nationally ranked Miami and BU on the road. Nate Leaman's team still has some question marks, but freshman goaltender Jon Gillies has been superb with a .938 save percentage. Leaman did great things with the Union program, and there is no reason to doubt that better days are ahead on Huxley Avenue.

5. UMass-Lowell: The River Hawks have gotten off to a less than desired start. Top three forwards Riley Wetmore, Scott Wilson and Derek Arnold have been quiet. Once they get on track along with goaltender Doug Carr, Norm Bazin's squad will get things going in the right direction. UML should eventually be a home ice team, but early season struggles prevent them from being in that spot yet.

6. Northeastern: The Huskies have been inconsistent in almost every aspect this year. The Huskies have more talent than any other team in the bottom half of the league, but goaltending is still a huge question mark. Chris Rawlings looks either real good or real bad and let's in way too many soft goals.

7. Merrimack: The Warriors seem to have found some offensive pop in the early going and Mike Collins got on track with a five point weekend against Vermont. The defense should be steady, but some costly turnovers and failed clearing attempts have come back to bite Mark Dennehy's squad in the first few games. Goaltending was a question mark after the graduation of Joe Cannata, and still is in my mind, despite a solid outing each from Tirronen and Marotta.

8. Vermont: The Catamounts have yet to play a regular season home game. After three road conference games, Kevin Sneddon's squad has two ties and a loss. UVM has some speed up front and always tries to employ a lockdown defense. If freshman goaltender Brady Hoffman can continue to play well in net, the Catamounts will have an edge up on some of their competition for the last playoff spot.

9. UMass-Amherst: First year coach John Micheletto has some solid forwards to work with, but the defense and goaltending will be the weakness in Amherst. Michael Periera has been held scoreless through four games and Conor Sheary has only registered three assists. Their production will need to be better. The Minutemen have blown two leads to BC and BU, which would have been nice wins for a new coach. Kevin Boyle will ultimately win the number one goaltending job, but not sure he can carry the team far enough.

10. Maine: So far it has been an utter disaster in Orono, after losing four of the top five scorers from a year ago. The Black Bears had to rally from two down to beat Army, the only win so far on the season.  Coach Tim Whitehead's squad has been playing with an injury depleted lineup, but the horses just aren't there in Orono. The offense should eventually get on track, but doesn't have the explosiveness to win games by itself. Mark Nemec is steady on defense, but there are some serious holes on the blueline. The goaltending has taken a step back from a year ago.