Hockey East Weekend Preview, 1/15/16

Posted by: Mike McMahon

It’s hard to believe that the playoff push begins now, but with so many non-conference games over and done with, it’s the push run for Hockey East.

Here is a look at this weekend’s series:

Boston University vs. Boston College (home-and-home) — It’s the marquee matchup of the weekend, without question. We’re not sure if the Eagles will have Thatcher Demko back between the pipes as of this writing. The BC goaltender returned to practice this week after what was described as an “upper-body injury,” that according to some not-so-quiet whispers was a concussion.

BU was sparked last week by the returns of Ahti Oksanen and Matt Grzelcyk. Time is running out for the Terriers, however, if they want to be one of the top teams in the Hockey East standings come the end of the season. BU is only two points behind Notre Dame for third in the league, but the Irish have a game in hand. The Terriers sit four points bak of BC for second in Hockey East.

Mike’s Pick: Series split.

Connecticut at Maine (two games) — A tale of two struggling teams, in a sense. Both are young, however, and are playing just about the way you would expect young teams to play — they’ve been somewhat inconsistent. Last month, UConn beat Lowell twice in a weekend, then tied Merrimack, and things were looking up. But the Huskies followed that with three losses in their next five games, with the only two wins coming against NCAA startup, Arizona State.

Meanwhile, Maine looked like it turned a corner heading into the semester break, going 4-1-1 in their last six games heading into a 24-day break. Since returning from that time off, the Black Bears are 1-4, with a win only over Colgate last week. Maine has allowed at least five goals in all four of those losses since returning.

Mike’s Pick: Series split.

New Hampshire vs. Northeastern (home-and-home) — Northeastern is suddenly not he rise, having gone 4-2-2 since heading out to Belfast at the end of November. One of those losses — a 3-2 setback to league-leading Lowell in Belfast — came in overtime. Jim Madigan’s team has looked impressive since, beating Colgate, 7-1, tying an excellent Quinnipiac team, trying an excellent Boston College team before losing by just one goal the next night, and then last weekend the Huskies swept a potent St. Lawrence team, on the road, which is no easy task.

On the flip side, UNH has lost two straight and a high-powered offense has suddenly gone dark, with the Wildcats falling 3-2 to Vermont in overtime on Jan. 2 and then last week getting shutout by Lowell, 1-0.

Mike’s Pick: Series split, with the home teams winning each game.

UMass Lowell vs. UMass (home-and-home) — After an incredible start to the year, UMass has just one win since Nov. 7, a stretch that has seen the Minutemen go 1-9-3 in their last 13 games. It’s been the offense that has gone mostly silent for UMass. The Minutemen have scored more than three goals just twice during this 13-game stretch after scoring three goals or more in each of the first five games, as well as seven of the first nine games.

Lowell got back to its winning ways last week in a 1-0 shutout of UNH. As much as Belfast seemed to spark Northeastern, it lined up with the life being taken out of Lowell, which had gone 3-3-1 since starting that tournament.

Mike’s Pick: Lowell sweeps the series.

Providence at Vermont (two games) — After going undefeated through Christmas, Providence is 1-3-1 since returning from the holiday break. The Friars will have a surging Vermont team, that struggled to find any consistency at the start of the year, but has now won four straight games. Packy Munson was an unknown when he took over for Mike Santaguida, and has provided top-notch goaltending, with a save percentage of .948 in his seven starts.

Mike’s Pick: Series split.

Merrimack at Notre Dame (two games) — Merrimack and Notre Dame have combined for 12 ties, which is more than any two other teams in Hockey East combined. The Irish have there in their last four games. Merrimack, however, has had trouble finding the net, and because of that, trouble also finding wins.

Mike’s Pick: Notre Dame wins one, the teams tie another.

This Week’s HEA TV Schedule: BU at BC (Fri., ASN); Merrimack at Notre Dame (Fri., NBCSN); Connecticut at Maine (Sat., FCS); Northeastern at UNH (Sat., WBIN/FCS); Merrimack at Notre Dame (Sat., NBCSN).

Comments Closed

Comments are closed.