The Week Ahead Hockey EastPosted by: Josh Seguin
After a long weekend of non-conference games, most Hockey East teams will return to a sense of normalcy this weekend. Six Hockey East schools will embark on crucial home and home series’ this weekend where positioning will be the key of the weekend, while Maine and Vermont will play two, in Burlington.
As is always the case when Boston College and Boston University play each other, the two teams will take center stage this weekend in an important home and home series. Kudos must be given for Northeastern’s big win last weekend out at Yost against Michigan, a 4-1 win, but Northeastern will make another trip to the CCHA to play Notre Dame twice in another crucial series for them and Hockey East.
Friday and Saturday two game series
Boston University at Boston College (Friday), BC at BU (Saturday)
Boston College and Boston University will conclude their regular season matchup, before a possible Beanpot matchup, this weekend as they play a crucial home and home series.. In the first meeting between the bitter rivals, Boston University overpowered and outmatched their Comm Ave rivals to the tune of a 5-0 BU win.
Coming off a 3-2 come from behind victory over Yale, Boston College will look to continue upon its high when they play their biggest rival this weekend. BC is second in Hockey East in team defense giving up only 2.50 goals per game while also being second in offense scoring just over 3.50 per game. To receive another strong weekend Boston College will need to continue this balance.
Boston University is getting stronger and stronger with every game. Since a 5-0 victory over Boston College, Boston University has gone undefeated without a blemish to their record. Slowly creeping up the standings, BU is looking to assert its position in the standings, while possibly picking up a tie breaker against Boston College, if the two teams end up tied at the end of the season.
Even though freshman Brian Billett gave the Eagles a solid performance on Saturday against Yale, one should expect Parker Milner to start both games this weekend. He has been lights out so far this season starting all but the Yale game so far this season. Boston University will counter with Kieran Millan, who has started all but two games for the Terriers this season.
New Hampshire at UMass-Lowell (Friday), UMass-Lowell at New Hampshire (Saturday)
New Hampshire and Umass-Lowell will conclude their season this weekend in a crucial home and home series. In the first meeting between the teams, two weeks ago, New Hampshire won at home 5-0 in a game that UNH stifled the Lowell offense and Matt Di Girolamo recorded his only shutout of the season.
UMass-Lowell enters this weekend’s series winners of six of seven games, and Doug Carr has shutouts in consecutive games. For Lowell to have any success this weekend they will need to stop the daunting New Hampshire offense, which has been on fire as of late and score some goals against a New Hampshire team that shut them out just two weeks ago.
New Hampshire enters this weekend winless on the road but on a six game winning streak at home. UNH will get their last chance to break the winless drought, before the holiday break, on enemy territory. New Hampshire with a 9-1 win on Saturday against Alabama-Huntsville, has catapulted itself into sixth nationally in scoring offense scoring nearly 3.64 goals per game. Defense has been the issue on the road and must improve for UNH to have any success at the Tsongas Center.
UMass-Lowell has received two consecutive shutouts from Doug Carr and he enters this weekend with a 1.57 GAA and should start both games for the River Hawks. New Hampshire will start Matt Di Girolamo both games this weekend. Di Girolamo has been hit or miss so far this season.
Merrimack at Providence (Friday), Providence at Merrimack (Saturday)
Merrimack enters this weekend as the only team in the country without a defeat and Providence has been reeling as of late, entering the contest with three straight losses.
Currently in second place, with two games in hand, Merrimack will look to continue winning games and earning two points. If the Warriors play their cards right this weekend and have the right things happen in front of them they could leave the weekend on top of Hockey East. Merrimack boasts the top defense in the country, allowing only 1.20 goals a game. This may be the difference in the games this weekend.
Entering the weekend tied for fifth place in the conference Providence College will look to rebound from a lackluster weekend out at the Denver Cup, where they lost both games. So far this season Providence has lost to just two Hockey East teams, Maine twice and Northeastern.
Providence is in need of wins and points. What started out as a successful season may be going south, but a big weekend against Merrimack, one of the top teams in the country, could rectify a season seemingly going south.
Figuring out who will start in goal for this series may be as automatic as it gets. Alex Beaudry has started 12 out of 13 games for the Friars, and he should start both games this weekend. He will be countered by Joe Cannata, who has started all seven games for the Warriors and currently has very impressive numbers on the season, giving up only 1.32 goals per game.
Maine at Vermont
After a tough four game losing streak at the beginning of November, Maine enters this weekend off a win against Clarkson last Saturday. After an up and down 2-1 week Vermont will look to build off the two wins last week and play two in conference home games this weekend.
Maine enters this weekend at 4-6-2 overall and in the logjam of teams that are within 4 points of third place Boston University. Every point in every weekend will be crucial for Maine to get past its rough stretch of four games, all losses, during the beginning of November. Maine will continue to rely upon its top line of Brian Flynn, Spencer Abbott and Joey Diamond for scoring while looking for more stable ground in regards to goaltending.
Vermont enters this weekend in jeopardy of being pushed even further back in the standings. Currently in last place, the Catamounts need to put together points quickly in order to stay in the playoff hunt.
The net up in Orono still seems to be a game to game decision, even though it seems that Dan Sullivan may be slowly winning that job over Martin Ouellette and this weekend may go a long way in further solidifying the Maine goaltending battle
Rob Madore is still the go to guy for Vermont, but has struggled mightily on the season allowing 4.10 goals a game and saving only 14 percent of shots. He may get one or both starts this weekend over a capable backup, Alex Vazzano.
Northeastern at Notre Dame
Northeastern will make its second trip to the Midwest in as many weeks and will be looking for the same success. Last weekend, Northeastern travelled to Yost Arena and picked up a crucial non-conference victory against Michigan on the road.
After struggling in the early going in conference, Northeastern has seemingly found its stride in the last few games as they have won three straight games coming into this weekend. This weekend will be crucial for Hockey East, in regards to the Pairwise because Notre Dame is one of the top ranked teams in the early Pairwise.
Northeastern will start Chris Rawlings in the crucial two game series. So far this year he has been hit or miss, but also gives up only 2.42 goals per game, which is very respectable. He will be countered by Notre Dame Goaltender Mike Johnson, who also has impressive numbers on the season.
Harvard at Massachusetts
Massachusetts will come off of a loss to Quinnipiac on Saturday to play Harvard at home this Friday. Harvard comes off a very successful week where they defeated New Hampshire at home last Tuesday in dramatic fashion, 7-6, and tied a very tough Dartmouth team.
Massachusetts will need to rebound from a game which saw them surrender three first period goals. A strong start at home is very important for the Minutemen, as they will look to stay undefeated at home on the young season
Jeff Teglia has received the last two starts in the UMass net but has two losses to his credit. In his career he is winless in 11 games, going 0-9-2 in those games. Will be interesting to see if Coach Cahoon sticks with Jeff Teglia this weekend at home, or start the man that has three of the four of the UMass wins this season, in Kevin Boyle. Steve Masterlerz has been the third goalie in the mix and one can’t rule him out for the start either.