Monday, December 10, 2012

Hockey East Game Previews (December 10-11)

Three non-conference games greet Hockey East fans over the next two days. UMass-Lowell travels to Harvard tonight. Merrimack hosts Army while UMass-Amherst heads to Yale in action slated for Tuesday.

UMass-Lowell (5-7-1, 3-6-1 HE) at Harvard (4-3-1, 3-3-0 ECAC)
Monday, 7:00, Bright Arena, Cambridge, MA

The River Hawks are coming off a 2-0 shutout win over Northeastern while the Crimson skated to a hard fought 2-2 tie at Merrimack. This is a big game for each team, as momentum is very important heading into the semester break. Both squads have gotten off to a slower than expected start. Each team should move up their respective league standings in the second half. This game has the feel of one that will help build confidence for the winning team. The key match-up in this game involves two young forwards, freshman Jimmy Vesey for Harvard and sophomore Scott Wilson of UML.

PICK: UML picks up a road victory, building momentum for what should be a second half where the Hawks move up the Hockey East standings.

Army (5-6-2, 5-2-2 AHA) at Merrimack (5-7-3, 4-4-1 HE)
Tuesday, 7:00, Lawler Arena, North Andover, MA

The Black Knights visit North Andover looking for their first non-conference win of the season. Brian Riley's squad is 3-1-1 in their last five contests. Their only game against a Hockey East opponent this season was a 4-3 loss to Maine. However, Army led 2-0 before Maine came back.

Merrimack will almost certainly start Rasmus Tirronen, continuing the goaltending rotation that Mark Dennehy has implemented so far this season. Mike Collins is obviously the key player for Army to focus in in, but if the Warriors are going to have any success in the second half, other players will have to emerge offensively. The last four games have all been decided by one goal or less, including two overtime contests.

PICK: Merrimack wins this game, 4-1.

UMass-Amherst (5-8-2, 4-6-1 HE) at Yale (6-3-2, 3-3-1 ECAC)
Tuesday, 7:00, Ingalls Rink, New Haven, CT

Both clubs are coming off disappointing weekends. UMass-Amherst dropped two non-conference contests to Colgate.

Yale only picked up one point out of four in ECAC action. The Bulldogs lost 6-1 to Rensselaer and tied Union 2-2. The Bulldogs are led up front by senior Antoine Laganiere and junior Kenny Agostino, a Pittsburgh draft pick. Laganiere has eight goals and six assists while Agostino has six goals and seven assists.

Michael Pereira and Conor Sheary were expected to be the go-to-guys for the Minutemen, but both have been quiet in the first half. This must chance in order for the Minutemen to be more successful. Kevin Boyle had two rough outings this weekend, after emerging as the clear cut number one. It will be interesting to see who is in net for John Micheletto's club Tuesday.

PICK: Yale keeps the Minutemen on the skids, winning at home 4-3.