Shootouts produce trophies for UMass-Lowell, BU

Shootouts are not the norm in college hockey, particularly for schools out east. But this weekend, they twice translated to trophies for Hockey East teams.

1. UMass-Lowell plays comeback kids at inaugural Friendship Four

Wild and wooly is the only way to explain UMass-Lowell’s championship at the inaugural Friendship Four tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Friday night it was Ryan McGrath forcing overtime before Dylan Zink won the semifinal game over Northeastern in overtime. In Saturday’s final, C.J. Smith buried a rebound with 38 seconds left to tie things against Brown, 5-5. And after a scoreless overtime, Zink again was the hero scoring the only shootout goal in what was a first-class event in Belfast (more on that on Thursday).

2. BU rallies to take Harkness-Kelley Cup in shootout at MSG

The bi-annual Red Hot Hockey event at Madison Square Garden featured a great comeback by Boston University, overcoming 2-0 and 3-2 deficits before Matt Lane scored the winner in a sudden death round. The tie and shootout win improves the Terriers to 3-0-2 in the marquis event. Connor LaCouvee continues his strong play in goal for the Terriers, improving to 5-2-3.

3. Still difficult to gauge how strong Merrimack is

Just when you think it is safe to proclaim Merrimack as the upstart story of the season, they struggled to a 4-0 loss at home against a Union team entered the game with just one win in its last eight contests. The Warriors have still impressed throughout the first half of the season but now have the same number of wins (six) as ties and losses combined (four and two, respectively) which may leave some wondering just how strong this team is.

Hockey East picks – Nov. 27-29

Last week, Jim and I disagreed on only two picks. One of those games ended in a tie. In the other, he correctly picked the order of the Boston University – Michigan split, getting them both right.

Could it be that Jimmy is smarter than I am?

As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride, “Inconceivable!”

Dave last week: 8-3-3
Jim last week: 9-2-3
Dave’s record-to-date: 62-29-17
Jim’s record-to-date: 67-24-17

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Nov. 27

Friendship Four
Massachusetts-Lowell vs Northeastern 
Dave’s pick:  You’d have to put a gun to my head to force me to pick Northeastern in this one. Yes, the Huskies are much better than their 1-10-2 record, but the River Hawks are every bit as good as their 9-1-3 mark. Playing in Ireland doesn’t change that.
UML 3, NU 1
Jim’s pick: Northeastern is due for a victory but they are also down too many key players to pick here.
UML 4, NU 2

Princeton at Maine
Dave’s pick: Can the Black Bears make it three wins in a row? Yes, I think they can.
Maine 2, PU 1
Jim’s pick: Maybe it was good ol’ home cooking that Maine needed.
Maine 4, PU 2

Quinnipiac at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: Perhaps the Minutemen can pull off a fourth straight tie, but I doubt it, not even at home. Undefeated Quinnipiac is too good.
QU 4, UMass 2
Jim’s pick: Agreed. I would like to have faith in UMass and, you never know in a game like this. But I have to pick with the odds.
QU 3, UMass 1

Shillelagh Tournament
Harvard at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: I think the Irish are better than their 5-3-4 record,  so I’m going with an upset over the eight-ranked Crimson.
UND 3, HU 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: This is the toughest pick of the weekend. If Notre Dame plays three solid periods, I think they can win. But that game-long consistency has been an issue at times.
HU 4, UND 3

Saturday, Nov. 28

RIT at Boston College 
Dave’s pick: This RIT club shares only the slightest resemblance to the edition that shared Ford Field with the Eagles at the Frozen Four six years ago.  No contest.
BC 4, RIT 1
Jim’s pick: This is the classic teacher/student battle as Jerry York’s former player at Bowling Green, Wayne Wilson, will be on the opposite bench. But even that can’t help RIT.
BC 5, RIT 1

Friendship Four 
Brown/Colgate vs Northeastern/Lowell 
Dave’s pick: We’ll pick all the possibilities here. I’m going with both Hockey East teams regardless of the match-up.
UML 3, Colgate 2; UML 3, Brown 1; NU 3, Colgate 2; NU 2, Brown 1
Jim’s pick: Same here. Hockey East will earn the non-conference wins on day two in Belfast.
UML 3, Colgate 1; UML 4, Brown 1; NU 2, Colgate 1; NU 4, Brown 2

Union at Merrimack
Dave’s pick: Union has fallen on hard times of late and won’t be toppling Merrimack in its barn. Say hello to the 7-1-4  Warriors.
MC 3, Union 1
Jim’s pick: The upstart team in Hockey East keeps rolling.
MC 4, Union 2

Princeton at Maine
Dave’s pick: Logic says this series should be a split, but I’m giving Maine a four-game winning streak.
Maine 3, PU 2
Jim’s pick: I can’t disagree with Dave’s logic. Maine gets itself back to relevant.
Maine 3, PU 1

Yale at Providence
Dave’s pick: Yale looks to once again be fielding a strong team, but I’m not picking against the Friars until they give me a reason to. They remain undefeated and atop the national rankings.
PC 4, YU 3
Jim’s pick: This might be the best game of the weekend. And I love the way Providence is playing so they get my pick at home.
PC 3, YU 2

Massachusetts at Quinnipiac 
Dave’s pick: Quinnipiac keeps pace with Providence as the only two undefeated teams in the country.
QU 4, UMass 2
Jim’s pick: I know UMass is good enough to take a win or a tie from this weekend. But I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to pick that.
QU 3, UMass 2

Bentley at New Hampshire 
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats get a much-needed win after a rough 0-4-2 stretch.
UNH 4, Bentley 1
Jim’s pick: This is the game that New Hampshire needed after recent struggles. But they have to be careful of a Bentley team that already swept Northeastern.
UNH 3, Bentley 2

Shillelagh Tournament
Western Michigan/Rensselaer at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: RPI will be the tougher match-up, but Notre Dame will prevail either way.
UND 3, RPI 2; UND 3, WMU 1
Jim’s pick: Notre Dame set itself up with the toughest matchup in the opening round. Day two should produce a victory
UND 2, RPI 1; UND 4, WMU 2

Red Hot Hockey
Cornell vs Boston University
Dave’s pick: I may have been a bit too optimistic about the Terriers so far, but I’m taking one more stab at it and going with them over 6-1-1 Cornell.
BU 3, CU 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: This is a dangerous one as I am picking BU over Cornell. I just think, for some reason, this team loves this specific game at MSG.
BU 3, CU 2

Sunday, Nov. 29

Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff
Vermont vs Penn State
Dave’s pick: Penn State is nowhere near as good as its 7-2-3 record, but it’s tough to go with the Catamounts after they got swept last weekend by Maine.
PSU 3, UVM 2
Jim’s pick: I actually think Vermont will get its head back on straight, even against a Penn State team that has a good record.
UVM 3, PSU 2

Hockey East musings: top three, UNH, and Maine

These are the three things I think I learned this week.

1. Providence, Boston College, and Massachusetts-Lowell are separating themselves from the rest of the league.

These three teams continued their undefeated play within Hockey East. Providence swept Northeastern, Lowell took three of four points from Notre Dame and BC defeated New Hampshire.

While several other teams rank highly in the standings right now — although no one is even close to Lowell’s 13 points — that’s because of radically different numbers of league games played.

There are three teams with only a single Hockey East loss (Notre Dame, Merrimack, and UNH), but the way the top three clubs are playing, they’re making that gap larger than it appears.

2. The third period is not New Hampshire’s friend.

UNH has gone five games without a win in November, in part because of third-period struggles. On Friday night, the Wildcats once again held a third-period lead over Massachusetts but had to settle for a tie.

This one wasn’t as bad as the previous time. On Friday night, they only led 2-1. A month ago, they led UMass, 6-1, but couldn’t hold onto the lead and and had to settle for a single point.

On Saturday, BC outscored them in the third 3-2 plus an empty-netter, but we’ll give a free pass on that point. BC is going to do that to a lot of teams.

However, no Hockey East team has given up more goals in any period than UNH in the third.

A short-term statistical fluke? We shall see.

3. How ’bout them Black Bears?

I guess we can’t refer to winless Maine anymore, can we?

The Black Bears collected not one but two huge wins over Vermont last weekend, getting off the schneid and out of the league cellar.

Four different players scored their first goals of the year, Dan Renouf scored his first two on Friday and added assists both nights, and senior goaltender Matt Morris reinserted himself into the netminding rotation.

Quite the weekend.

Maine’s next two league games, two weeks from now against New Hampshire, should tell a lot about both teams.

Hockey East picks: Nov. 20-24

Let the good times continue to roll! For the third straight week, I’ve picked up games on Dave and have increased my lead to four. That, along with the fact that I was an unbeaten 7-0-4 last week, should have the old man ready to pull out all the punches. How else can he carry a lead late in the season and play the four-corners?

Jim last week: 7-0-4
Jim to-date: 58-22-14
Dave last week: 6-1-4
Dave to-date: 54-26-14

Friday, November 20

Vermont at Maine
Jim’s pick: This pick has more to do with Maine’s struggles than Vermont success.
UVM 3, Maine 1
Dave’s pick: Maine’s struggles on offense — only 11 goals in 11 games, easily the worst mark in Hockey East — will continue.
UVM 3, Maine 0

Northeastern at Providence
Jim’s pick: Things just aren’t getting any easier for this Northeastern team. Facing the number one team in the nation is the last thing the Huskies need.
PC 4, NU 2
Dave’s pick: It was about this time last year that the Huskies began their turnaround, but I can’t see it happening against the Friars.
PC 4, NU 2

Notre Dame at UMass Lowell
Jim’s pick: This should on paper be the best matchup of the weekend. Which means I should be apt to pick a split. The only reason I won’t though, is because of past results. Lowell is 6-1-1 against Notre Dame since the Irish joined Hockey East.
UML 3, ND 1
Dave’s pick: I’m not convinced this will be as close a matchup as Jim thinks. I think Lowell is the better team and the games are in its barn.
UML 3, ND 1

Massachusetts at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: It has been difficult to know which UMass and which UNH team will show up every night. Thus, this coin flip goes the way of home ice.
UNH 4, UMass 3
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats have suffered some terrible defensive struggles this year, including blowing a 6-1 lead over UMass a month ago. So even though the Minutemen have been porous in their own end as well, I think this matchup favors the visitors.
UMass 4, UNH 3

Michigan at Boston University
Jim’s pick: The fact that BU didn’t win a game last weekend against #1 Providence gives me reason to believe it will be hungrier against Michigan.
BU 4, UM 2
Dave’s pick: I saw BU’s two ties with Providence as a sign of strength rather than a reason to be frustrated and hungry, so I’m going with the Terriers but for different reasons than Jim.
BU 3, UM 2

Saturday, November 21

Massachusetts at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: That Lawler Arena advantage is plenty for the Warriors.
MC 4, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: If the Warriors could win 4-2 at the Mullins Center, I’m certainly picking them back home.
MC 5, UMass 2

Vermont at Maine
Jim’s pick: The Catamounts complete the sweep and Maine remains winless.
UVM 3, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: I’ll pick the Black Bears to score on this night, but that’s as far as I can go.
UVM 3, Maine 1

Providence at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: Even home ice isn’t enough to get the Huskies a win.
PC 5, NU 3
Dave’s pick: I can’t imagine anyone thinking before the season began that the Huskies would start 1-10-2.
PC 3, NU 2

Notre Dame at UMass Lowell
Jim’s pick: The River Hawks complete the sweep, though admittedly this series could easily be a sweep the other way.
UML 2, ND 1
Dave’s pick: I was hoping Jim would pick a split so I could make up some ground, but I like what I’ve seen from the River Hawks.
UML 3, ND 1

Boston College at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: It hasn’t always been easy for the Eagles to win at UNH, but they are simply the better team right now.
BC 3, UNH 1
Dave’s pick: The Eagles are 9-1 with a goal differential of 42-10; UNH is a game under .500 and has scored a single goal less than it has given up. I’m not picking BC shutouts anymore, but right now, these two teams aren’t close.
BC 4, UNH 1

Michigan at Boston University
Jim’s pick: Michigan is too good of a team go go back to Ann Arbor without points.
UM 3, BU 2
Dave’s pick: For me, the jury is still out on Michigan. Yeah, a 5-1-1 record is nice, but it’s been a very weak early season schedule. Give me the Terriers with a home sweep.
BU 3, UM 2

Tuesday, November 24

Boston College at Connecticut
Jim’s pick: I have a weird feeling going with the obvious here won’t be correct. But I’m going with the obvious nonetheless.
BC 3, UConn 1
Dave’s pick: UConn has lost seven straight; BC is 9-1. It’s hard to see a winning return for UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh to his old haunts.
BC 5, UConn 1

Bentley at Boston University
Jim’s pick: Everyone will believe this should be a blowout. But may I use one word to remind us Bentley isn’t a walkover: Northeastern. Still, BU isn’t losing this at home.
BU 4, Bentley 2
Dave’s pick: Given Northeastern’s struggles so far this year, I’m not sure Bentley’s wins mean anything more than two bricks in the Huskies’ wall. I’m picking a blowout.
BU 6, Bentley 1

New Hampshire at Rensselaer
Jim’s pick: RPI is 3-1-1 at home this year, reason enough for me to pick the Engineers.
RPI 3, UNH 2
Dave’s pick: I feel like I’ve been wrong with almost every UNH pick so far this season. So I’m going to do Coach Umile a favor and go against the Wildcats.  Coach, you’re welcome.
RPI 3, UNH 2 (OT)

National title rematch provides plenty of entertainment but little in the way of results

It was a series you circled when the schedules were announced: Boston University and Providence, a rematch of last year’s national title game. And though fans were probably entertained at each venue, neither night of the home-and-home series produced a winner. That leads the three things I learned this weekend.

1. When it comes to Providence and BU, there’s little separating the pair

Friday night it was a late Ahti Oksanen goal with the goalie pulled. Saturday featured a three-goal rally for BU before Providence tied the game late. Regardless, both games in the rematch of last year’s national title game produced ties. While neither team is really satisfied with a pair of draws, BU might feel most fortunate given it held a lead for just 77 seconds of the 130 minutes on the weekend. But that lead was a third-period advantage and the Terriers had all the momentum having scored three third-period goals to overcome a 2-0 deficit. So it’s difficult to say either team came away from the weekend feeling either good or bad, but the reality is both of these teams proved there is little separating two of Hockey East’s top teams.

2. Lowell has reached its Boyle-ing point

While it has been easy to tout Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko after he posted his fifth and sixth shutouts (in a span of seven total games) last weekend against Maine, but lost in that shadow has been the play of Lowell goaltender Kevin Boyle. Boyle was 33 seconds away from a shutout on Friday against Maine. It would’ve been his second straight and third of the season. He got that third shutout, though, two nights later when he blanked the Black Bears on Sunday in Orono. That leaves Boyle with a stingy 1.26 goals against average, slightly off Demko’s league-best 1.00 GAA mark. That is a major reason that the River Hawks are off to the best start in the program’s Division I history at 8-1-2.

3. Then there’s the flip side: a Maine offense that isn’t scoring

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when goaltenders like Demko and Boyle are putting up impressive numbers that some teams in the league might be struggling to score goals. But for Maine (which has faced that goaltending pair over the last two weekends) its anemic offense is getting to a critical state. The Black Bears offense is ranked 60th – dead last – in the nation, averaging just one goal per game (11 goals in 11 games). Part of the problem is Maine’s power play which, despite scoring once Friday, still ranks 58th nationally, converting at a 6.7 percent clip. A solid goaltender, which rookie Rob McGovern has been much of the year (Sunday’s performance where he allowed four goals in the first period not withstanding), can only carry a team so far. Maine needs to start scoring, simply put.

Hockey East picks – Nov. 13-17

Jim and I differed on only two games last week, and in both cases he chose the right team, tripling his lead.

Since this is Friday the 13th, perhaps all that bad luck will go his way and I’ll get back to even.

Dave last week: 9-6-0  
Jim last week: 11-4-0
Dave’s record-to-date: 48-25-10
Jim’s record-to-date: 51-22-10

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Nov. 13

Northeastern at Notre Dame 
Dave’s pick:  This contest marks the rare occasion when a Friday night game closes out a two-game, back-to-back series. Unfortunately for the Huskies, it won’t include what has become all too rare for them, a win.
ND 4, NU 1
Jim’s pick: This will easily be my craziest pick of the weekend, but I’m going with Northeastern. The Huskies played well in Thursday’s loss and, was it not for an awful start, would have won.
NU 3, ND 2

Boston University at Providence
Dave’s pick: The Friars hold serve in this juicy home-and-home series, remaining undefeated for at least on more day.
PC 3, BU 2
Jim’s pick: In a weekend filled with great matchups throughout the nation, this one takes the cake. And Providence takes game one.
PC 3, BU 1

Merrimack at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: In this clash of the league’s two most pleasant surprises, I almost, almost, almost went with the Warriors. They are 2-0-1 on the road, after all, so they’re not a home-ice-only team. Nonetheless, the Olympic sheet at the Mullins Center provides such a stark contrast from the tight confines of Lawler Rink, I’ve got to go with the Minutemen.
UMass 4, MC 3
Jim’s pick: I like the way UMass has played at home this year but I simply think Merrimack is the better team here.
MC 4, UMass 2

Maine at Massachusetts-Lowell
Dave’s pick: In past years, Maine had Lowell’s number. These days, however, no one has the River Hawks’ number.
UML 4, UM 1
Jim’s pick: I think the game will be close than Dave does, but I agree on result.
UML 2, UM 1

Connecticut at Vermont 
Dave’s pick: The Huskies have lost five in a row. Vermont better grab that first home win while the getting’s good.
UVM 4, UConn 2
Jim’s pick: This borders on a must-win for UVM. Home game in a year where the Cats have struggled at home.
UVM 4, UConn 2

Michigan State at Boston College 
Dave’s pick: Last week, I correctly predicted two BC shutouts. Give me one reason to change. I can’t hear you.
BC 3, MSU 0
Jim’s pick: MSU will score but BC will win.
BC 4, MSU 2

Saturday, Nov. 14

Providence at Boston University 
Dave’s pick: I’m sorely tempted to pick a Friars sweep, and I believe on neutral ice they’d pull it off. But these two teams are closely matched, so give me a home-ice split.
BU 3, PC 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: I am with Dave here. I think this has to be a split weekend and will go the home ice route.
BU 2, PC 1

New Hampshire at Merrimack
Dave’s pick: Two weekends ago, the Wildcats prevailed in this match-up, 4-2, but I’m concerned about their defensive struggles.  Last weekend they gave up 12 goals. Two weeks before that, they couldn’t hold a 6-1 lead over UMass. Give me the Warriors.
MC 3, UNH 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: Agreed. I am going with Merrimack yet again on home ice. UNH proved me wrong last time. Can it again?
MC 3, UNH 1

Sunday, Nov. 15

Massachusetts-Lowell at Maine
Dave’s pick: The long bus ride to Orono and back proves worth it as the River Hawks sweep their old nemesis.
UML 3,UM 2
Jim’s pick: Tempted to give Maine their first win because I can’t believe that this club is still winless. But I can’t just give Dave some random win as this will be a neck-and-neck race all season.
UML 4, UM 2

Massachusetts at Vermont
Dave’s pick: Based on the two teams’ records, I should be going with the Minutemen. But I can’t help thinking that they aren’t quite as good as their record and the  Catamounts are considerably better than theirs.
UVM 4, UMass 3
Jim’s pick: I have to agree with Dave yet again. I think Vermont has a lot of the tools and a 60-minute effort will earn a victory.
UVM 3, UMass 1

Tuesday, Nov. 17

Quinnipiac at Connecticut 
Dave’s pick: The Huskies’ struggles continue as they fall in this interstate rivalry.
QU 4, UConn 2
Jim’s pick: Tough opponent when your team isn’t playing well. And even though this is a game in Hartford, I see UConn falling.
QU 3, UConn 1

All or nothing for Hockey East in league play, a mixed bag outside

These are the three things I think I learned from this all-or-nothing weekend.

1. The All: Teams swept all four league series

Hockey East is typically so tough top to bottom that it’s extremely difficult to take four points from a league foe. That, however, is exactly what happened this weekend in all four league series.

Boston College, Boston University, Massachusetts-Lowell and Massachusetts all swept, giving themselves big boosts in the standings. All but the Minutemen rest tied atop the league standings with six points, and they’re a point behind with five.

That said, the number of league games played so far varies widely so it’s really BC (3-0-0) in first and Lowell (2-0-2) in second.

And when you see that Eagles goaltender Thatcher Demko has now shut teams out in six of the last seven games, it’s clear which team is in unquestionably the best shape.

2. The Nothing: Four teams got swept in league play

If four teams did the sweeping, it’s pretty basic math that four teams got swept. Taking the broom into the lower reaches of the standings were Maine (at the hands of BC), Northeastern (at the hands of BU), Vermont (at the hands of Lowell), and Connecticut (at the hands of UMass).

All four clubs have concerns. UConn lost to the most lightly regarded of the foes. Vermont took its sweeping at home, where it is now a stunning 0-6-1.

But I’d argue the greatest concern has to lie at Northeastern and to a lesser extent Maine. Going in reverse, one can forgive the Black Bears for getting shut out by a BC team that has become a defensive juggernaut, especially since they were on the road. Still, there’s no way to sugarcoat an overall 0-6-3 record.

As for Northeastern, so much better than 1-7-1 overall was expected this year. The Huskies rank a clear first in the Biggest Disappointment category.

3. Nonconference play was a mixed bag.

Including a mid-week battle, Merrimack collected four points outside of Hockey East, moving to a surprising 5-1-2 overall. Kudos to the Warriors.

Notre Dame hosted Minnesota and won on Friday but couldn’t complete the sweep, falling one night later.

New Hampshire took it on the chin at Michigan State, losing 5-0 and 7-4. Giving up 12 goals on a weekend is never a good thing. It’s particularly ominous for a team with as high expectations as UNH.

Hockey East picks – Nov. 6-12

Both Dave and I had equally impressive weeks last week which means I hold my single-game lead in the standings.

Jim last week: 13-2-1
Jim to-date: 40-18-10
Dave last week: 13-2-1
Dave to-date: 39-19-10

Friday, November 6

Maine at Boston College
Jim’s pick: Boston College seems to be clicking on all cylinders. Maine definitely is not.
BC 4, Maine 1
Dave’s pick: The Eagles make it five shutouts in six games.
BC 3, Maine 0

Northeastern at Boston University
Jim’s pick: Had BU not pulled out the OT win against Denver, I’d be questioning their confidence. Even with a road tie at Vermont last week, I’m definitely questioning Northeastern’s.
BU 4, NU 2
Dave’s pick: I thought the Huskies would settle into the middle tier of Hockey East, but once again they’re burying themselves with a poor start.
BU4, NU 1.

Massachusetts at Connecticut
Jim’s pick: Each team was thumped in their last outing, but UMass lost two players for this game to suspension. That could make a difference.
UConn 3, UMass 1
Dave’s pick: Suspended players and home ice add up to a UConn win.
UConn 3, UMass 2

UMass Lowell at Vermont
Jim’s pick: As tough of a place as The Gut has been to play, it hasn’t had the same luster this year as in year’s past. Will that turn around this weekend?
UML 4, UVM 3
Dave’s pick: It’s hard to believe the Catamounts are 0-4-1 at home, but I believe the River Hawks will add to those home woes.
UML 3, UVM 1

New Hampshire at Michigan State
Jim’s pick: I just don’t know what to think of this UNH team yet. The fact they seem to be coming into its own is my only reason to pick the Wildcats on Friday.
UNH 3, MSU 2
Dave’s pick: I’d feel better about this pick if this series were at the Whitt, but I’ll go with the Wildcats.
UNH 3, MSU 2 (OT)

Minnesota at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: This is a battle featuring a lot of NHL draft picks. That should matter as much as home ice will.
ND 4, Minn 3
Dave’s pick: The Irish get their first home win and move to 4-1-2.
ND 3, Minn 2

Saturday, November 7

Boston University at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: I don’t think change of venue will matter in the outcome.
BU 3, NU 2
Dave’s pick: The Huskies fall to 1-7-1. I sure didn’t see that coming. Neither, I’m sure, did the Huskies themselves.
BU 3, NU 1

Connecticut at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: UMass has been a good enough home ice team that I’ll pick them back at Mullins Center.
UMass 5, UConn 4
Dave’s pick: I believe I was on the UMass bandwagon for all of a period or two. I see UConn grabbing a broom.
UConn 4, UMass 3

UMass Lowell at Vermont
Jim’s pick: I have a really difficult time picking a sweep here but I think Lowell is playing a good enough brand of hockey to pull this off right now.
UML 2, UVM 1
Dave’s pick: Not me. Picking a sweep by fourth-ranked Lowell is about as easy as they come.
UML 3, UVM 1

Merrimack at Canisius
Jim’s pick: This being a long bus trip is the only thing that could slow down Merrimack, and I don’t think it will.
MC 4, CC 2
Dave’s pick: Ya gotta love the Warriors’ special teams.  Their power play is a woeful 1-for-27 for a Hockey East-worst 3.7 percent. But their penalty kill ranks best in the league, 24-for-26.  I’m working on a narrative for that, but for now I’ll chalk some of that up to small sample sizes.
MC 3, CC1

New Hampshire at Michigan State
Jim’s pick: This is the night Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand stands on his head to steal one.
MSU 2, UNH 1
Dave’s pick: Not for me. Give me the Wildcats with the sweep.
UNH 4, MSU 2

Minnesota at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: This series feels like a split, but I look at recent results for the Irish and believe they can sweep.
ND 4, Minn 2
Dave’s pick: I’d like to be disagreeing more with Jim, but it’s a long season and I’ll stick to my guns. Go, Irish!

ND 4, Minn 3

Sunday, November 8

Maine at Boston College
Jim’s pick: Even a day off in the middle of this series isn’t enough for Maine.
BC 5, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: I’m going to keep picking BC shutouts until some team other than Denver shows it can score on the Eagles. As for Maine, those early-season ties still look good, but a loss here makes it 0-6-3 with no points inside Hockey East.
BC 4, Maine 0

Tuesday, November 10

Army West Point at Connecticut
Jim’s pick: Other than Northeastern being swept by Bentley, AHC has been good to the Hockey East non-league winning percentage. That continues.
UConn 4, Army 1
Dave’s pick: I believe this means I’m picking UConn to win all three games on its long weekend.
UConn 5, Army 1

Thursday, November 12

Northeastern at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: Notre Dame remains perfect in Hockey East play.
ND 4, NU 2
Dave’s pick: It’s hard to muster faith in the Huskies right now.
ND 4, NU 1

Walman leading the Friars from the blue line

Don’t look now but Providence’s Jake Walman is tied for the nation’s lead in goals per game. That tops my list of three things in Hockey East that I learned this week:

1. Walman a beast on the blue line for the Friars

On a weekend where the Providence Friars buried 11 goals, it was defenseman Jake Walman who netted four. Walman scored a hat trick on Friday night in a 7-2 victory and added another goal in PC’s 4-3 win on Saturday. He has scored in six of the Friars seven games, leads all defensemen in the nation in scoring and is tied with Nebraska-Omaha’s Austin Ortega and Massachusetts forward Dennis Kravchenko as the top goal scorer. It goes without saying that Providence’s offense is clicking on all cylinders thus far this season and getting goals from the back end certainly helps.

2. Boston College is making me a believer

After BC’s 2-1 loss to Rensselaer a few weeks back, I pondered in this space whether or not this Eagles team was ready for prime time. They have certainly proved their worth, going 4-0-0 since the loss to the Engineers that dropped them from their perch as the nation’s number one team. Friday’s win against Denver is BC’s most impressive of the season and likely will place them back in the top 3 in the USCHO.com poll when it is announced on Monday.

3. Vermont breaks out of its slump

It was an early season doldrum for Vermont, losing four straight games. The opponents were mighty and, as of writing, sit No. 1 and No. 2 in the USCHO.com poll. Possibly you let that slide but all four of those games – two against Omaha and two versus North Dakota – were at home. Those woes ended this week against Northeastern as the Catamounts gutted out a road win on Thursday negating a Northeastern rally from 2-0 down by scoring the game-winner late. Then on Saturday, Vermont scored another late goal to force a 3-3 tie. At 2-4-1 the record may not be pretty but this week provided many positive signs for the Catamounts.

Hockey East picks – Oct. 30-Nov. 4

There weren’t a lot of games where Dave and I picked differently last week, but he took advantage when he could.

Jim last week: 10-3-5
Dave last week: 11-2-5
Jim to-date: 27-16-9
Dave to-date: 26-17-9

Friday, October 30

Boston University at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: BU is coming off a road loss to Connecticut which should make them a favorite here. But I saw Merrimack play in their building last week and was impressed. Their game is made for that building.
MC 2, BU 1
Dave’s pick: I agree with everything Jim said, but I just can’t see BU dipping below .500.
BU 2, MC 1

Denver at Boston College
Jim’s pick: This will be the Eagles toughest oppose to date but I think BC has the edge on home ice.
BC 3, DU 1
Dave’s pick: This should be a terrific matchup, one that could be reprised in the NCAA tournament, but I’ll take the Eagles, especially at home.
BC 3, DU 2

Providence at Colgate
Jim’s pick: This will be a tough road test for the Friars but nothing they’ve done to date tells me they can’t win.
PC 4, CU 2
Dave’s pick: So much for the championship hangover. The Friars go to 5-0-1.
PC 4, CU 2

UMass Lowell at Minnesota-Duluth
Jim’s pick: Another marquis Friday night game in Hockey East. I think Lowell has the ability to win but think that the home ice is enough reason to pick Duluth.
UMD 3, UML 2
Dave’s pick: I had my Hockey East Homer hat on until I took a closer look at Duluth’s schedule and saw that only one of its games so far has been at home. That tells me the Bulldogs are better than their 2-1-2 record.
UMD 3, UML 2

Maine vs. Massachusetts (Capital City Classic, Trenton, N.J.)
Jim’s pick: The Massachusetts offense gives me plenty of reason to believe they can win in this in-season tournament.
UMass 4, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The Minutemen have surprised… no, make that the undefeated Minutemen have surprised me so far.
UMass 4, Maine 3

Saturday, October 31

New Hampshire at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: Historically, this has been a good opponent for UNH, but just because of the location, I’m going with the Warriors.
MC 3, UNH 2
Dave’s pick: Although the Wildcats gave up a four-goal, third-period lead against UMass last Friday, they came back to defeat nationally ranked Union, 5-2, one night later.  They’re in the middle of six straight road games, but I remain a believer.
UNH 3, MC 2

Notre Dame at Connecticut
Jim’s pick: This is similar to Merrimack, where I believe the Huskies have a home-ice advantage.
UConn 3, ND 2
Dave’s pick: I’m going to agree.  At a neutral site, I’d go with the Irish, but home ice prevails for UConn.
UConn 3, ND 2 (OT)

Northeastern at Vermont
Jim’s pick: The back end of a three-day home-and-home goes to the Catamounts.
UVM 3, NU 1
Dave’s pick: The Huskies’ season-opening win over Colgate is feeling more and more distant.
UVM 4, NU 2

Denver at Boston University
Jim’s pick: I think that Denver is the better team here but I am hoping BU is motivated, particularly if my pick of them to lose on Friday at Merrimack rings true.
BU 4, DU 2
Dave’s pick: The Terriers don’t seem to be hitting on all cylinders yet, so I’m going with Denver.
DU 3, BU 2

Providence at Colgate
Jim’s pick: As good as Providence is playing, I have a difficult time picking a road sweep against this Colgate team.
CU 3, PC 2
Dave’s pick: Not me. I’m getting out the broom.
PC 3, CU 2

UMass Lowell at Minnesota-Duluth
Jim’s pick: This one feels like a split to me. Just hoping I don’t pick it backwards.
UML 3, UMD 1
Dave’s pick: I’d been thinking of a Lowell sweep, but I’ve settling on a sweep the other way.
UMD 3, UML 2 (OT)

UMass/Maine vs. Princeton/Yale (Capital City Classic, Trenton, N.J.)
Jim’s pick: We will pick all of the potential scenarios here in a tournament I expect Yale to win.
UMass 3, PU 1; Yale 4, UMass 3; Yale 5, Maine 2; Maine 3, PU 2
Dave’s pick: Yale is the king of this tournament, Princeton the penniless peasant, and both Maine and UMass are lesser nobility somewhere in between.
UMass 4, PU 1; Yale 5, UMass 3; Yale 5, Maine 2; Maine 3, PU 1

Sunday, November 1

Norte Dame vs. Connecticut (at Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Jim’s pick: A special venue for this one and I see the Irish earning the split.
ND 4, UConn 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. This isn’t a classic home-and-home series, but it’ll have the same expected outcome.
ND 3, UConn 2

Tuesday, November 3

Massachusetts at Boston College
Jim’s pick: The Eagles continue to roll at home.
BC 3, UMass 1
Dave’s pick: We’ll see if UMass’s strength in previous weeks continues. I doubt it.
BC 5, UMass 2

Wednesday, November 4

Merrimack at Bentley
Jim’s pick: The Warriors hope they don’t have the same fate as Northeastern. And I don’t think they will.
MC 2, Bentley 1
Dave’s pick: Give me the Warriors, even away from their comfy home barn.
MC 3, Bentley 2

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