After a weekend filled with sweeps and upsets, Hockey East will embark on a relatively light weekend in terms of games. This weekend sends all but Merrimack and Vermont on the holiday break, where many teams have upwards of 20 days off to reflect on the half that was. This is also a great time to reflect on where your team is and where the league is. With only five games on the docket Thursday-Saturday, positioning and going off on a positive note will be the goal of all Hockey East teams.
I hate to sound like a broken record in the past two weeks, but more kudos has to go out to Northeastern. Not one college hockey fan in the country, including myself, would have ever predicted that the Huskies would go out to South Bend and take two against Notre Dame, but they did. In the past three games Northeastern has defeated Notre Dame twice and Michigan, all on the road. Northeastern will return to Hockey East conference action after a successful two weeks against CCHA foes.
Boston University at New Hampshire
Boston University has defeated UNH twice on the young season, both at Agganis Arena. With a combined 9-1 score, one would think this would be a given for BU but they will find a desperate New Hampshire team looking to find a way back to the win column.
Last weekend, the Terriers had an interesting weekend against rival Boston College. They won 5-1 on Friday night at Conte Forum and at Agganis on Saturday they lost 6-1. UNH was swept in a home and home with UMass-Lowell, where the defense again struggled to find an identity.
UNH will most likely start senior goaltender Matt Di Girolamo on Thursday who has been struggling mightily the past few weekends. Boston University, barring a surprise from Jack Parker, will start Kieran Millan who struggled on Saturday night against Boston College and got pulled at the end of two periods. He gave up an unimpressive five goals on 22 shots in just two periods of action but will be looking for a rebound against a team that he has dominated so far this season, giving up only one goal in 2 games.
Boston College at UMass-Lowell
This is a game that should be circled on everyone’s calendar this weekend. Just how good is UMass-Lowell? From what I saw this weekend I can say nothing but good things about the team that swept New Hampshire, and got their first win at the Whittemore Center in nearly eight years. Lowell has defeated Maine twice, UNH twice, and BU once but has yet to get a win against Boston College in two games. This will be a measuring stick game for them to see exactly where they are against the top team in Hockey East.
Boston College will be heading to Lowell after defeating Providence College 4-1 on Tuesday night. Brian Billet has looked good and has received the last two starts for Jerry York’s team, two wins. Giving up only four goals in three games as a collegian is quite impressive considering Billet is a freshman.
UMass-Lowell has seemingly decided that Doug Carr should be their go to goalie on the season. So far this season, Doug Carr is 8-1-0 and has an impressive 1.78 goals against average while having a stout .935 save percentage. Jerry York and BC is in the midst of a goalie battle between the aforementioned Billet and the early go to man Parker Milner. It may be a tough decision on York but one should presume that York will go with the hot goalie Billet over Milner.
Boston University at Maine
Boston University will head to Maine for the first and only time this season on Saturday. The Black Bears enter this weekend on a four game unbeaten streak after a weekend sweep of Vermont last weekend.
Maine lives and dies by its first line of Spencer Abbott, Joey Diamond, and Bryan Flynn. Last weekend, Spencer Abbott had nine points in two games on 5 goals and 4 assists. For the Black Bears to be successful this weekend they will need to continue its improved goaltending in the past few weeks.
Boston University should start Kieran Millan in Orono on Saturday. He currently has 12 of 14 starts for the Terriers on the season and has a 2.97 goals against average. Dan Sullivan has in recent weeks been the go to guy for Maine, giving up only three goals a game in five straight starts. He has led the resurgence by Maine in the recent weeks and has wins in four consecutive starts.
UMass-Lowell at Northeastern
Northeastern returns to Hockey East play as one of the hottest teams in the country. After a successful three game trip to the Midwest the Huskies will return home for a lone game against UMass-Lowell before embarking on the holiday break. Something will have to give in this game, as both teams are hot and on the way up in the league.
This has all the makings of being a goalie duel for the ages as Chris Rawlings and his 2.32 GAA will go against Doug Carr and his 1.78 GAA. With both teams playing for the last two points before break, this game will be huge going forward for both clubs.
Merrimack at Colgate
Merrimack College will take part in the league’s only non-conference tilt of the weekend as they will head to Colgate of the ECAC, who is in the midst of a breakthrough season. At 11-4-0, the Colgate Red Raiders come in as one the nation’s hottest teams.
Merrimack will enter the game off a win against Vermont, Wednesday night. Struggling to keep composure last weekend, Merrimack lost its first two games of the season to Providence College on back to back nights. This game will be crucial for Merrimack in terms of the Pairwise as the Warriors have played a relatively weak non-conference schedule so far with wins against Army, Connecticut and Alabama-Hunstville. A win against team that is 11-4-0 will help the cause for Merrimack going forward.
Colgate uses a two goalie system rather well, as both currently have GAA’s under 2.50. Joe Cannata will get the start for Merrimack. On Wednesday, against Vermont he gave up two goals on 35 shots. He is currently 9-2-1 on the season and has started all but one game for the Warriors this season.