Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hockey East: Week in Review

Hockey East teams were in non-conference mode last week, with the exception of a mid-week game that UMass-Amherst defeated Vermont in. Friday night was a rough night for league teams while Saturday saw some key out of the conference wins for league teams.

New Hampshire traveled to Colorado College and Denver, returning from the Rocky Mountain region with a win and a tie. A disappointing tie, blowing a four goal lead to Colorado College Friday was the prelude to a come from behind victory over #2 DU Saturday. This weekend proved that UNH can still win with poor performances from Casey DeSmith. The sophomore goaltender was removed after allowing three early goals against DU, paving the way for Jeff Wyer to pickup the win in a relief outing. Dick Umile's team will still rely on good goaltending, but the offense is picking up, with Austin Block, Kevin Goumas and Grayson Downing looking like the catalysts. Conor Hardowa and Trevor van Riemsdyk are two very strong puck moving defensemen that provide offensive spark from the blueline.

UMass-Lowell now has a two game winning streak, after defeating Princeton 3-1 Saturday. The River Hawks are starting to produce offensively, but the slow start has put some serious pressure on UML to have no further letdowns. Norm Bazin's squad has a huge two game series with UNH this upcoming weekend. UML must pick up two points or more to continue the momentum and prevent further doubts about the credibility of the pre-season ranking.

Vermont was swept 5-1 and 3-1 by Minnesota in a two game non-conference series in Burlington over the weekend. That was preceded by a 3-1 loss to UMass-Amherst Tuesday. Connor Brickley and Colin Markison are both injured and the offense has a serious lack of skill players to begin with. Kevin Sneddon's recruiting philosophy has been detrimental to success lately. It is one thing to play a defense first style and build the program from the net out. However, there needs to be some skilled players, someone to put the puck in the net. There are too many grinders and penalty killers on this Catamount squad. After a Frozen Four appearance in 2009, UVM has been on a downward spiral. It seems hard to fathom, but Sneddon's job security could be slipping.

Boston College continues to roll, winning ten in a row, after a season opening loss to Northeastern. The first line of Johnny Gaudreau, Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney has been absolutely unstoppable. Every time that line hits the ice, it is scary for the opposition. Jerry York is now one win away from tying Ron Mason' all-time win mark and two away from setting the new standard. With the Eagles set for a two game series with arch-rival BU, what better way for York to break the record. Whether it happens this weekend or in the next few weeks, York has won at BC early and often, making him clearly the best coach of this era.

Boston University has received strong goaltending from Sean Maguire in his last two starts after the freshman from Powell River, BC got off to a slow start. Fellow freshman Matt O'Connor got off to a hot start in net, but trailed off lately. Having two solid goaltenders who can both pickup key wins will be significant for the Terriers once the Hockey East grind starts in January.