From an individual standpoint, Hockey East’s top performances in the season first month-plus has offered a strong mix of the expected starts and new faces emerging from a season. Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau is toward the top of the league leaders with nine points on four goals and five assists, and he’s joined by teammates Bill Arnold and Pat Mullane. However, Boston University’s Cason Hohmann, Merrimack defenseman Jordan Heywood and New Hampshire defenseman Connor Hardowa have put together successful starts as well. For Heywood and Hardowa, it isn’t just about offense, as both play key minutes for their successful teams.
This week, though, none of those players made the cut.
Mike Collins, Junior, Forward, Merrimack
Currently leading Hockey East in scoring, Mike Collins is a major reason the Warriors have won three of four after a tough trip to Last Frontier. Since returning from a weekend sweep at the hands of Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage, Merrimack is 3-0-1, including a sweep of Northeastern last weekend. In those four games, Collins scored three goals and assisted on seven others to pick up 10 points. Many wondered where the offense would come from this year for the Warriors, and Collins was a player expected to shoulder his share of the load. Four games do not make a season, but 10 points in four games is never a bad sign.
Casey DeSmith, Sophomore, Goaltender, New Hampshire
After Matt Di Girolamo’s benching a season ago and an injury to Jeff Wyer, Casey DeSmith stepped in for New Hampshire and hasn’t looked back. He earned the No. 1 job with his play down the stretch last year, and he’s maintained that level of play to kick off 2012-13. Through seven games, DeSmith is 5-1-1 with a 1.54 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. In his last four games, he’s been even better. Aside from picking up his first two shutouts of the season, DeSmith is 3-0-1 with a 1.21 GAA and a .962 save percentage in his last two weekends. The tie came against Northeastern on Oct. 27 — a 34-save performance in a scoreless draw. Most expected UNH to compete for home ice in the conference tournament this season. DeSmith’s performance in the first month suggests the Wildcats may have even more on their minds.
Danny O’Regan, Freshman, Forward, Boston University
Danny O’Regan scored twice on Oct. 26 in a 5-2 win over Massachusetts. The first goal, multi-goal game and game-winning goal of his career all came that night. Since, O’Regan has continued to race to the top of the league’s freshman of the year ballot. In his last four games, O’Regan scored four goals and picked up three assists. In Grand Forks, N.D., last weekend O’Regan scored twice and added an assist, as BU split with North Dakota. BU’s underclassmen have led the way for the Terriers, as their gifted upperclassmen round into form. O’Regan may be the best of a dynamic freshman class, though, and his last two weekends are evidence to that.
Mike Pereira, Junior, Forward, Massachusetts
Mike Pereira played well for Massachusetts on Sunday in a 3-2 loss to Boston College. Pereira setup Troy Power for a go-ahead goal in the third period before the Eagles scored two to earn the win. The assist on Power’s goal was Pereira’s first point of the season. His performance this season hasn’t been poor in anyway, but the Minutemen need their leading goal-scorer to find his touch. Thus far this season, the Minutemen have three one-goal games (two to BC and one to BU). All three of these games could have been wins for the Minutemen. Goals from their best scorer would certainly have helped in these situations. In his defense, he suffered an injury late in the first game against BC that sidelined him for the remainder of that content. Still, goals need to come for Pereira for the Minutemen to be more than an eighth-place team in Hockey East.
Nick Pryor, Senior, Defenseman, Maine
Really, any Maine upperclassman could be on this list. Little has gone right for Maine this season, as the Black Bears are off to a 1-8-0 start, scoring just 10 goals in those nine games. They’ve allowed 30, on the other hand, and something needs to change quickly for the Black Bears. Pryor’s start has been difficult this season. Maine coach Tim Whitehead was optimistic about Pryor entering the season, as the talented defensemen has finally remained healthy long enough to be a factor on a consisent basis. However, a minus-9 and just one assist through 10 games won’t be enough for Pryor or Maine.
Tim Schaller, Senior, Forward, Providence
Through eight games, Providence’s leading goal scorer from a season ago has just one goal and two assists. The Friars suffered a shut-out loss to Vermont over the weekend, and it’s struggle from Schaller and other PC forwards leading to these type of results. There’s little doubting that the goals will eventually come for PC. Schaller, perhaps more than any other player, has to get going, though. The Friars’ younger players have provided some offense in the early-going, but, as we quickly approach the end of the first half, Schaller has to start finding his scoring touch for PC to compete for home ice and into the Hockey East Tournament.