Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hockey East Weekend Preview (November 2-4)

There are ten games involving Hockey East teams this weekend, eight of which are conference contests. Providence-Vermont and Merrimack-Northeastern are the only two league series. The rest are singles with the exception of BU's two game non-conference showdown at North Dakota.

Merrimack (2-3-1, 1-1-1 HE) vs. Northeastern (2-2-1, 2-2-1 HE)
Friday @ Matthews Arena (7:00), Boston, MA; Saturday at Lawler Arena, N. Andover, MA (7:30)

Northeastern jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first contest between these two squads. Merrimack tried to come back, but the effort came up just short, losing 3-2. Northeastern has an edge in the talent offensively, but Josh Myers and Mike Collins have been providing spark for the Warriors to match the likes of Kevin Roy, Vinny Saponari and Ludwig Karlsson. The difference in this match-up will be which team's goaltending plays better. Chris Rawlings always seems to let in a soft goal or two, and was pulled in favor of Bryan Mountain last weekend, who got the shutout in the 0-0 tie against UNH. Merrimack got a good performance from Sam Marotta in their upset win at #5 Union, but both he and Rasmus Tirronen have looked shaky at times.

PICK: Northeastern 4-2, Merrimack 3-1

Providence (3-2-1, 2-1-0 HE) at Vermont (0-1-2, 0-1-2 HE)
Gutterson Field House, Burlington, VT (Friday, Saturday 7:00)

After a dreadful season last year, UVM has not looked out of place in three road games, but only have two points to show for it. Providence, led by a youth movement under second year head coach Nate Leaman, looks to continue their early season success. The Friars have taken care of business against the teams they should, and have fought hard against two top ten teams, BU and Miami. This is a battle of freshman goaltenders, Jon Gillies for PC and Brady Hoffman for UVM.

PICK: Providence sweeps 3-2 and 2-1

Boston University (3-1-0, 3-1-0 HE) at North Dakota (2-1-1, 1-0-1 WCHA)
Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks, ND (Friday 7:30 CT, Saturday 7:00 CT)

Boston University has looked good in the early going, led by new freshman goaltender Matt O'Connor and a host of other young players. Their only blemish was a loss at UNH. North Dakota had to deal with suspensions in their first two weekends after an off-ice incident at the beginning of the school year. The Fighting Sioux will be one of the best teams in the nation come February and March.

PICK: North Dakota sweeps 4-2 and 3-1

Boston College (4-1-0, 4-1-0 HE)/New Hampshire (4-0-1, 2-0-1 HE) at Maine (1-6-0, 0-2-0 HE)
Alfond Arena, Orono, ME (Friday 7:00, Sunday 4:00)

Boston College and UNH are clearly the favorites in these two early season contests at Alfond Arena, but despite the Black Bears lackluster 0-3 home record this year, anything can happen in Orono. The Eagles, led by their top six dynamic forwards, will look to take it to a depleted Maine roster. The Wildcats, led by sophomore goaltender Casey DeSmith and a steady team, will look to keep the home team winless in Orono.

PICK: BC 4-1, UNH 3-2

New Hampshire (4-0-1, 2-0-1 HE) at Massachusetts (1-3-0, 0-3-0 HE)
Mullins Center, Amherst, MA (Friday 7:00)

As stated above, UNH has looked very solid in the beginning of the season. Scoring by committee, solid defense and solid goaltending. UMass' only win was a non-conference victory over UCONN. The Minutemen had leads in two of their games, against BC and BU, but couldn't hold the fort and ended up losing. Their top two scorers from a year ago haven't gotten on track yet and goaltending has been and will be an issue.


Massachusetts (1-3-0, 0-3-0 HE) at Boston College (4-1-0, 4-1-0 HE)
Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, MA (Sunday 4:00)

The Minutemen had a 3-0 lead in this game the first time these two teams met, but could not hold on. Johnny Gaudreau and Pat Mullane lead a ferocious top two lines for the Eagles, which will be too much for UMass to contain with their defense. Freshman Michael Matheson and a steady BC defense will keep the Minutemen's top line in check.

PICK: BC 5-1