The Week Ahead Hockey East 11/8/12

Posted by: Josh Seguin

Early in the season, there have been a few teams that have stood out and some that are just struggling. Boston College is again at the top of the standings, but has played the most games as well. Maine has been the biggest surprise on the season and their struggles have continued.

The marquee matchup of the weekend is another non-conference tilt, as Boston College hosts Notre Dame on Friday night. But not to be out-done there is also this small matchup in Boston on Sunday, which pits Boston University and Boston College. Both of those matchups will be fantastic ones but they aren’t the only ones that have interesting story-lines. Enjoy the hockey folks

Providence at Massachusetts (Friday)

UMass played some fantastic hockey last weekend against UNH and BC earning a win and losing a close one respectively in those games. One positive for the Minutemen was the play of their goaltender, Kevin Boyle. For the first time in two seasons, it seems as though the Minutemen finally have a number one goaltender. Despite being 2-4-0 on the season overall and 1-4-0 in Hockey East, they have a lot of room to grow and that record should only improve in the coming weeks.

Providence split a weekend series against improved Vermont over the weekend on the road in two defensive battles. The Friars are ranked third in defense giving up 2.12 goals per game and have received great goaltending from their freshman in net, Jon Gillies. He is currently second in GAA in Hockey East at 1.80 per game on the season.

Prediction: 2-1 UMass

Notre Dame at Boston College (Friday)

Anyone looking for a Friday night game before the big football tilt on Saturday night, need to look no further than right at Conte Forum where the Eagles will host the Irish. Both teams are highly touted coming into the matchup with the Eagles owning a 6-1-0 record on the season and the Irish are 6-2-0 coming into the weekend.

Boston College had another four point weekend last week as they swept a pair of games from Maine and UMass. They will need a huge performance on Friday from their young defense and offense as the Irish will come after them with a high powered offense led by the likes of Tj Tynan, Anders Lee and Bryan Rust.

Prediction: 3-2 BC

Boston University at Merrimack (Friday)

Merrimack has surprised some  this year and Boston University has looked impressive at times this year. Coming into the weekend, the Warriors lead the Terriers by a single point in the conference standings but it’s still very early to be looking at that, as it probably won’t be that way at the end of the year but still makes for an intriguing story-line.

BU enters the weekend off a split last weekend in North Dakota. The Terriers’ freshmen looked phenomenal in the Saturday night win and a split in Grand Forks is always a good thing for visiting teams. BU is undefeated in freshman, Matt O Connor’s starts and O Connor has allowed a just 1.81 goals per game in his starts. One should expect to see him in this contest.

Merrimack enters the weekend off a sweep of Northeastern, where the Warriors outscored the huskies by an aggregate of 9-4.  The Warriors lead Hockey East in offense scoring at a clip of 3.5 goals per game and have been led by junior Mike Collins’ five goals and 12 points. Defense and goaltending have been the biggest question marks on the season as both Rasmus Tirronen and Same Marrotta have struggled so far, giving up 2.88 per game that ranks eighth in Hockey East.

Prediction: 4-2 BU

Maine at UMass-Lowell (Friday and Saturday)

The River Hawks haven’t played in nearly two weeks and Maine continued its early season struggle last weekend. This matchup will pit the two winless teams in Hockey East play so far this season.

Maine struggled in a Sunday matchup against Rival UNH, losing 4-0 on the night. Maine has scored a porous 1.11 goals per game on the season and has especially struggled in their eight losses. The Black Bears have scored just six goals in those losses and have lost six games in a row.

UMass-Lowell has played just three conference games and has just a lone tie against Vermont coupled with two losses to Boston College. UML has also struggled to score on the season but not to the degree that Maine has and have scored 1.60 per game.  This is surprising to some, including myself, but the goals will come and could this weekend. This should be a sweep for the River Hawks, but I could see Maine pulling one out on Friday against a team that might be rusty after a two week lay-off.

Prediction: Friday: Maine 2-1, Saturday: UML 5-1

Vermont at New Hampshire (Saturday)

Both teams enter this weekend much improved from last season and UNH is undefeated in its four games at home so far this season, while Vermont is winless in its three games on the road. The Wild Card in this matchup is that both teams will play just the single game on the weekend. That coupled with the big ice of the Whit could make for an interesting game.

UNH enters the weekend off a weekend split on the road against UMass and Maine. The Wildcats lost their first game of the season on Friday night to the Minutemen but bounced back with a big 4-0 win over rival Maine on Sunday evening. Casey Desmith has been phenomenal in net on the season and leads the league in both Goals against and save percentage.

Vermont had a defensive battle with Providence last weekend, in a split. Freshman, Brody Hoffman picked up his first career shutout on Saturday night against the Friars and had a good weekend overall, giving up just three on the weekend. His performance has been a positive this season, after the season that was last season for Vermont.

Prediction: 4-1 UNH

Alabama-Huntsville at Northeastern (Saturday and Sunday)

Northeastern needs a huge bounce-back weekend after a sweep at the hands of Merrimack last weekend. Northeastern looked promising early in the season but last weekend was the first real setback for a team that has a lot of young talent.

Goaltending, which was a strength last Saturday against New Hampshire when Bryan Mountain stopped 45 shots in a scoreless tie, was again the weakness on the weekend. Bryan Mountain gave up five goals to the Warriors on Friday and Chris Rawlings gave up three on Saturday night. On Saturday the Huskies started quick with an early 2-0 lead, but were unable to hold on as the Warriors scored four goals unanswered in the 4-2 win.

Alabama-Hunstville is downright struggling on the year, as they are winless in eight games. On the season, they have been outscored 38-11. This should be a sweep for the Huskies.

Prediction: 5-1 NOE, 6-2 NOE

Connecticut at Merrimack (Saturday)

Merrimack will play their fourth non-conference game on Saturday night against future conference foe, UConn. They enter the weekend 1-2 in non-conference play and are unbeaten in four consecutive games, entering the weekend. UConn is winless on the year with an 0-4-2 record overall.

Prediction: 5-2 Merrimack

Boston College at Boston University (Sunday)

The biggest rivalry in College Hockey will take center stage on the weekend. Boston College will take the short trip down Commonwealth Ave to take on Boston University. Last year BU won two of three meetings against the Eagles. As always with a rivalry, this one should be a battle.

Prediction: BC 4-3

Last week predictions: 4-6-0

Season Predictions: 10-9-1

 

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