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Hockey East Picks – Nov. 29-Dec. 3

After Dave and I had equally impressive weeks two weeks ago, this past week was a near disaster for both. Laughably, we were equally bad and thus remain tied.

Jim last week: 5-6-2
Jim to date: 63-30-9
Dave last week: 5-6-2
Dave to date: 63-30-9

Friday, November 29

Holy Cross at Boston College
Jim’s pick: I bet Holy Cross can be competitive but don’t think they can beat this BC team.
BC 4, HC 2
Dave’s pick: I think it’ll be more one-sided than Jim expects. BC is coming off a disappointing loss to Maine, and the 3-9-0 Crusaders just aren’t up to the challenge.
BC 5, HC 1

New Hampshire at Colorado College
Jim’s pick: After UNH looked pretty bad against Harvard, expect the Wildcats to rebound.
UNH 3, CC 2
Dave’s pick: I’d have bet the ranch on that Harvard contest, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so certain about this one. But the Wildcats have been playing far too well to drop a third straight game when matched against a 1-8-2 opponent.
UNH 4, CC 1

Maine at Vermont (Non-conf.)
Jim’s pick: Vermont has played some solid hockey at home and Maine has struggled on the road. Might as well play the trend.
UVM 3, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: I’m not picking against a team that has beaten BU, 7-0, and BC, 5-1, in the last two games. While Maine is 0-3-1 on the road, two of those losses came in the opening weekend. The Black Bears are a much better team now.
Maine 4, UVM 2

Shillelagh Tournament
Northeastern vs. Western Michigan
Jim’s pick: As well as NU has played, I’m going Broncos here.
WMU 4, NU 2
Dave’s pick: I feel as though I’ve gotten almost every Northeastern pick wrong this year. So to help Hockey East boost its nonconference record, I’m going with the Broncos.
WMU 3, NU 2

Alabama-Huntsville at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: Notre Dame has the perfect opponent for a much-needed win.
ND 5, UAH 1
Dave’s pick: Agreed.  Despite their injuries, the Irish didn’t play badly even while getting swept last week at Lowell. I’m giving more credit to the River Hawks on that front than blame to the Irish.
ND 5, UAH 0

Saturday, November 30

New Hampshire at Colorado College
Jim’s pick: I’ve been picking splits in the past couple of weeks and been killed by calling it backwards. Hoping that’s not the case here.
CC 3, UNH 2
Dave’s pick: I actually think that the errors in Jim’s split calls and my sweep picks have cancelled each other out. But whether that’s the case or not, I’m going with a sweep again. If the Wildcats are as good as I think they are, and the Tigers are as weak, then UNH will take all four points.
UNH 3, CC 2

Boston University vs. Cornell (at Madison Square Garden)
Jim’s pick: Always a close game when these two schools play. I have to pick the team that I think is simply better on paper.
Cornell 3, BU 2
Dave’s pick: I’m not sure what to make of the Terriers. They’ve had some awful losses, but last week took three-of-four points from North Dakota. Since one of those points came while getting outplayed by a wide margin, I’m remaining skeptical.
Cornell 3, BU 2

Brown at Providence
Jim’s pick: Brown has pulled off some upsets at the Mayor’s Cup before. I just don’t think this is one of those years.
PC 4, Brown 2
Dave’s pick: Providence is 7-1-1 at home; Brown is 1-4-0 on the road. The Friars all the way.
PC 4, Brown 1

Maine at Vermont (non-conf.)
Jim’s pick: I like the way Vermont is playing right now. I’m going Catamounts for the sweep.
UVM 4, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: The Catamounts have been playing far better than I expected, but I can’t get away from Maine’s even more impressive recent performances. I’m going with a sweep the other way, even on the road.
Maine 3, UVM 2

Merrimack at Yale
Jim’s pick: The scoring woes for Merrimack continue.
Yale 3, MC 1
Dave’s pick: I’ve been bullish on the Warriors, but they’re now 0-5-1 in their last six games, and their only wins this year have come over Atlantic Hockey teams. My optimism is fading.
Yale 4, MC 1

Shillelagh Tournament
Championship/consolation
Jim’s pick: Picking all the scenarios for Hockey East teams.
NU 4, UAH 1; ND 3, NU 2; ND 4, WMU 3
Dave’s pick: Agreed all around. Notre Dame wins the tournament, and Northeastern beats Alabama-Huntsville if given that match-up.
NU 5, UAH 1; ND 3, NU 1; ND 3, WMU 2

Massachusetts at Quinnipiac
Jim’s pick: UMass is going to have to play much better hockey to beat one of the nation’s best team’s in Quinnipiac.
QU 4, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: With the Minutemen going 0-5-1 in their last six games, they need an easier match-up than Quinnipiac on the road.
QU 4, UMass 1

Tuesday, December 3

American International at Massachusetts-Lowell

Jim’s pick: AIC is playing well but I don’t know if this will be another Sacred Heart for the River Hawks.
UML 4, AIC 2
Dave’s pick: I’m convinced the Sacred Heart debacle came only because it was so early in the season. The River Hawks are moving into top form.
UML 4, AIC 1

Boston University gets much needed bounceback weekend vs. NoDak

Things were a bit hairy for Boston University after lopsided losses to Boston College and Maine. But after a win against Connecticut last Sunday, BU welcomed North Dakota for what turned out to be a pretty successful weekend. That leads the three things I learned this week:

1. Goaltending rotation broken, BU gets win, tie vs. North Dakota

All season, first-year coach David Quinn had rotated his goaltenders. This past weekend, Quinn broke the rotation going with Matt O’Connor both nights versus North Dakota. After an impressive win on Friday that included 37 saves in a 3-1 win, O’Connor got the call again on Saturday. He didn’t simply one-up his Friday performance, instead he posted a career-high 55 saves, including 24 in a wild third period, to earn a 3-3 tie against North Dakota. It’s difficult to tell if BU is suddenly back on path, but the team has great momentum heading into the marquis Red Hot Hockey matchup next Saturday at Madison Square Garden vs. Cornell.

2. River Hawks continue to roll in near-perfect weekend vs. Notre Dame

Massachusetts-Lowell provided a less-than-welcoming reception to Notre Dame this weekend, facing off against the Irish for the first time in the two programs’ long hockey history. The River Hawks were near perfect, allowing just one goal in the two-game series (1-0, 3-1 wins) while scoring all four of their goals on the power play. The Irish entered the weekend the top penalty killing team in the nation. For just the second time this season, Connor Hellebuyck played back-to-back nights, stopping 74 of the 75 shots he faced. Lowell’s five straight wins is tied with Ohio State for the nation’s longest winning streak and the River Hawks power play is now 15 for 51 (29%) after starting the season 1 for 25.

3. Black Bears returning to home ice dominance

Plenty of college hockey fans remember the days when Maine’s Alfond Arena was packed to the rafters every single night and the Maine Black Bears were nearly unbeatable on home ice. Well this year’s edition of the Black Bears seems to be returning their home ice to a place of dominance. After a 5-1 win over Boston College, Maine is now 6-1-0 at home this season. And the fans seem to be noticing. A capacity crowd of 5,125 watched Saturday’s contest at Alfond, an impressive increase from the 3,737 that watch Maine’s Hockey East home opener against just three weeks ago.

Hockey East picks – Nov. 22-27

Both Dave and I had banner weeks and posted identically impressive results.

Jim last week: 8-1-2
Jim year-to-date: 58-24-7
Dave last week: 8-1-2
Dave year-to-date: 58-24-7

Friday, November 22

Northeastern at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: Last weekend was hardly ideal for the Huskies and Merrimack continued to struggle to score goals. I think NU will come with a little more hunger.
NU 3, MC 1
Dave’s pick: I’m going to disagree here.  The Warriors have gone through tough times on the road, but I like them to hold serve at home.
MC 2, NU 1

New Hampshire at Providence
Jim’s pick: Battle of two of Hockey East’s hottest teams. I’m giving this one to home ice, at least on Friday.
PC 3, UNH 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed.  I like both teams, but I can’t pick against the Friars at home.
PC 3, UNH 2

Vermont at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: I like the way both of these teams are playing, but think UMass at home gets the edge.
UMass 4, UVM 2
Dave’s pick: UMass looked too good against BC to pick against them at home in this matchup.
UMass 3, UVM 2

Notre Dame at Massachusetts-Lowell
Jim’s pick: With Notre Dame hit by the injury bug, I need to go with the River Hawks at least in the opener.
UML 3, UND 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed.  I’d feel differently about this one in Notre Dame’s barn.
UML 3, UND 2 (OT)

North Dakota at Boston University
Jim’s pick: Neither team has been stellar out of the gate, but I think North Dakota is still the better team on paper.
NoDak 4, BU 2
Dave’s pick: I don’t like the way the Terriers have been playing at all lately.
NoDak 4, BU 2

Saturday, November 23

Boston College at Maine
Jim’s pick: I was impressed by the seven goals Maine scored last Friday, but I’m more impressed by the 25 games BC has scored in its last five games.
BC 5, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: I’m not sure if Maine’s seven goals against BU were a tribute to the Black Bears or a condemnation of the Terriers. I’m opting primarily for the latter and BC certainly didn’t dominate UMass last weekend, but I’m still going with the Eagles.
BC 4, Maine 2

Merrimack at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: If my picks are correct in this series, Northeastern is looking good heading to Thanksgiving while Merrimack is in a lot of trouble.
NU 4, MC 1
Dave’s pick: The Huskies salvage the split at home.
NU 3, MC 2

New Hampshire at Providence
Jim’s pick: The Wildcats salvage a split in a two-game road series vs. the Friars.
UNH 3, PC 1
Dave’s pick: I could certainly see a split, but I’m going with home ice to give the Friars a sweep.
PC 3, UNH 2

Notre Dame at Massachusetts-Lowell
Jim’s pick: If Notre Dame isn’t banged up, I’m probably picking this a sweep for the Irish. But instead I’m picking a sweep for the River Hawks.
UML 4, UND 3
Dave’s pick: Though I hate to agree with Jim again, I’m opting for a Lowell sweep that needs overtime in both games.
UML 3, UND 2 (OT)

North Dakota at Boston University
Jim’s pick: North Dakota gets the much-needed non-league sweep on the road.
NoDak 3, BU 2
Dave’s pick: I don’t like at all where the Terriers are headed. Losing 7-0 to Maine and getting hammered by an archrival don’t fill me with much confidence.
NoDak 4, BU 2

Sunday, November 24

Massachusetts at Vermont
Jim’s pick: Catamounts earn split on home ice.
UVM 4, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. The Minutemen impressed at BC last weekend, but they’re still 0-5-1 on the road.
UVM 3, UMass 2

Tuesday, November 26

Harvard at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: Harvard is going to have to play a lot better than it did against BC, and even that likely won’t be enough.
UNH 5, HU 2
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats will recover from a frustrating weekend at Providence.
UNH 4, HU 2

Wednesday, November 27

Providence at Quinnipiac
Jim’s pick: This has the makings of being one heckuva game between top 10 (maybe top 5?) squads. I know Quinnipiac is great at home but I feel like Providence can end the Bobcats streak.
PC 2, QU 1
Dave’s pick: I’ve really gone back and forth on this one, but I’m a Friars believer and a Hockey East homer to boot. Friars by the slimmest of margins.
PC 3, QU 2 (OT)

River Hawks play away from home proves they’re road warriors

The Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks scheduled some difficult road trips to begin the season. That proved to be a good thing this past week as the team extended its road winning streak to six games. That leads the three things I learned this week.

1. Road tested, road approved

UMass-Lowell finished what was a pretty grueling road trip – the longest any team in Hockey East will spend away from campus this season – with a perfect 3-0-0 record. Lowell left campus early last Monday morning. Played Tuesday night at Princeton. Traveled Wednesday to State College, Penn. Played Thursday and Friday at Penn State returning home around 5 a.m. on Saturday. And at the end of it all, Lowell came away with three hard-fourth victories to extend the team’s road winning streak to six game. The River Hawks are now 6-1-0 on the road this season. That trend could be important late in the year as seven of Lowell’s final nine game – all league contests – will be played on the road.

2. Friars stay hot

Providence remained one of the nation’s hottest teams this weekend winning twice at Vermont to improve to 9-1-1. The Friars .864 winning percentage is second in the nation to Quinnipiac (11-1-1). While many expected Jon Gillies, who became Providence’s all-time shutout leader on Saturday with eight, to play well, it’s difficult to overlook the contributions of Ross Mauermann, who after a three-goal weekend at Vermont, now has 10 goals in 11 games.

3. Blowouts continue

It’s been rare in recent years to see any Hockey East team blowout an opponent. But after New Hampshire crushed Massachusetts, 9-0, and Boston College routed Army, 11-0, last weekend, Maine followed suit on Friday, shutting out Boston University, 7-0, at home. Six different players scored goals for the Black Bears, the back breaker coming early in the second when Maine’s Ben Hutton scored an unassisted goal while his team was killing a 5-on-3 man advantage.

Hockey East picks: Nov. 15-20

Well, that was more like it! I out-picked Jimmy by two games and now we’re deadlocked again.

Dave last week: 11-3-0  
Jim last week: 9-5-0
Dave’s record-to-date: 50-23-5
Jim’s record-to-date: 50-23-5

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Nov. 15

Massachusetts at Boston College
Dave’s pick: The carnage won’t be as bad for UMass as last week’s against New Hampshire, but it won’t be pretty.
BC 5, UMass 2
Jim’s pick: The Eagles are clicking right now like many a BC team to come before – championship teams, that is.
BC 4, UMass 1

Boston University at Maine
Dave’s pick: The competition has been tough, but BU has lost four of its last five and looked particularly bad against archrival BC.  The Terriers have also lost all three of their road games.
Maine 4, BU 2
Jim’s pick: I’m not sold on either BU or Maine, but I’m more sold on the Terriers than the Black Bears.
BU 3, Maine 2

New Hampshire at Northeastern
Dave’s pick: It looks like UNH has crawled almost all the way out of the early-season hole it dug for itself, but I’m not going to continue to underestimate the Huskies all year. I’m going with them to hold home ice.
NU 4, UNH 3
Jim’s pick: This is a tough one for me. I like the way both of these teams are playing and feel like UNH has regained its confidence overnight.
UNH 3, NU 2

Providence at Vermont
Dave’s pick: Catamount fans may be unhappy with me picking against their team all the time, but that isn’t going to change with the Friars involved.
PC 3, UVM 2
Jim’s pick: Agreed. I’m a big Vermont fan this season but I think Providence is a top two or three team in Hockey East.
PC 3, UVM 1

Merrimack at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: The Warriors will play with great grit and intensity and will block a bajillion shots, but it still won’t quite be enough against Hockey East’s newest superpower.
UND 3, MC 2
Jim’s pick: I don’t think this game will be as close as Dave does. But I do believe the Irish will get the ‘W.’
UND 4, MC 2

Massachusetts-Lowell at Penn State
Dave’s pick:
While the River Hawks home-away split (home: 2-3-0, away: 4-1-0) looks like a fluke, I still like them on the road. The only question is whether four games in seven days takes its toll.
UML 3, PSU 2
Jim’s pick:

UML 3, PSU 2

Saturday, Nov. 16

Northeastern at New Hampshire
Dave’s pick: This surprisingly even home-and-home series ends with each team holding home ice serve if UNH can stay out of the box. The Northeastern power play (23.1 percent) is a bad match-up for a struggling Wildcat penalty kill (75.7 percent).
UNH 3, NU 2
Jim’s pick: Though I feel like picking a split is the way to go here, doing so in recent weeks has earned me to losses as I continuously pick the splits backwards.
UNH 4, NU 2

Merrimack at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: It’s a long way to travel for no points, and this leaves the Warriors winless in Hockey East, but I still think they’ll make their mark in the league this year.
UND 4, MC 2
Jim’s pick: If Merrimack is going to win one, it will be the opener. I think Saturday goes to Notre Dame regardless.
UND 5, MC 2

Providence at Vermont
Dave’s pick: I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Catamounts salvage a split. They did it to Notre Dame and they can do it to Providence. But I’m tossing my lot with the Friars (knowing that Jimmy is going to disagree with me on this series).
PC 3, UVM 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: And Dave is wrong. I’m not picking against Providence right now. This team is playing excellent hockey.
PC 2, UVM 1

Sunday, Nov. 17

Connecticut at Boston University
Dave’s pick: The Terriers had better halt their skid here, because two games with North Dakota loom on the horizon.
BU 4, UConn 2
Jim’s pick: This won’t be as bad as last Sunday’s Hockey East/Atlantic Hockey matchup, but still believe this could be a bit lop-sided.
BU 5, UConn 1

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Boston College at Harvard
Dave’s pick: I think this will be a lot closer than the way it looks on paper, but the Eagles will emerge on top anyway.
BC 3, HU 2
Jim’s pick: I agree, this game could be close but I am still going with the high-flying Eagles.
BC 4, HU 2

Two resurgent teams and one that deserves more respect

Before we get to the conventional three things I learned this week, let me mention one unconventional thing I learned…

… and that is how good Jimmy Connelly is at doing color on TV games. I knew he was good in the studio at NESN, but I DVR-ed the WBIR broadcast of the Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Northeastern game on Saturday and came away very impressed.

I look forward to telling people in the future that I knew Jimmy when he was a nobody.

Moving on, then, to the three conventional things that I think I learned this week.

1. Rumors of New Hampshire’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

After the Wildcats got swept by Lowell two weekends ago, things looked grim. UNH stood at 1-5-1 with an 0-2 record within Hockey East.

Time to play taps for the Wildcats?

Not exactly.

UNH crawled out of its early-season coffin this weekend, sweeping a home-and-home with a Massachusetts team that had been playing some good hockey. Almost as important as the four points, is how the Wildcats achieved the sweep.

They outscored the Minutemen a cumulative, 13-1, winning at home on Friday, 4-1, then shellacking their hosts, 9-0, on Saturday. For a team that has struggled on offense, a 13-goal weekend against a league team could be just what the doctor ordered.

One weekend doesn’t make the comeback complete, but it sure was a good start.

2. Boston College looks like it’s back in full force, too.

It was one thing when the Eagles lost the season opener at Michigan, 3-1. Road game. Top opponent. First game of the year.

No big deal.

But I began to wonder when they went to Minnesota and despite that being a tough opponent and a tough venue, they only came away with one-of-four points and got blown out in the second game, 6-1.

Well, two weeks ago, the Eagles swept Northeastern, and this past weekend, they demolished Boston University, 5-1, and Army, 11-0.

So much for those early-season worries. With BC a perfect 3-0 in Hockey East and carrying a 6-2-1 overall mark, those concerns look pretty silly now.

3. I’ve definitely been underestimating Northeastern.

When the Huskies opened with sweeps of Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross, I yawned.

Talk to me, I thought, when you’re doing that against the big boys. (Yes, I’m fully aware of how well Atlantic Hockey has done in the postseason, but I’m not confused by the facts. I expect Hockey East teams to win those games.)

So when Northeastern split with St. Lawrence and, more significantly, got swept by a BC team that at the time I harbored concerns about, my reaction was: I told you so.

Which was a premature reaction, as it turns out.

The Huskies’ win at Lowell on Saturday, 4-2, definitely opened my eyes. This is a pretty good team with talent that extends beyond just Kevin Roy.

They face a tough home-and-home series this week against a resurgent (I think) New Hampshire squad, so I may well be picking them to lose two games yet again.  (Insert your favorite snide remark about old dogs refusing to learn new tricks.)

But the Huskies have definitely caught my eye.

 

BC-BU rivalry doesn’t live up to billing for head coach Quinn

What has traditionally been one of college hockey’s best rivalries in recent decades lacked much of its luster on Friday night as Boston College severely outplayed Boston University in a 5-1 win at BU’s Agganis Arena.

The game was the first for Boston University’s David Quinn as BU’s head coach and it was about as rude a welcome as he could feel to the storied rivalry.

Sure, Quinn was a part of BC-BU as a player and assistant. But you can imagine that when he took over this BU team last summer, one of the dates he circled on his calendar was November 8.

Maybe that is part of the reason that after the game Quinn took much of the blame.

“I didn’t think I did a good job of coaching the team and preparing us tonight,” said Quinn. He said that in certain situations he didn’t have the right personnel on the ice and said he felt responsible for a couple of goals.

All that said, a majority of blame has to be put on the players. Numbers certainly don’t lie. The Terriers had just six – yes, six - shots on goal 5-on-5 on Friday. Seventeen of BU’s shots came during its seven power plays. And during arguable BU’s best opportunity to get back in the game, a 5-0n-3 man advantage for a minute late in the second trailing 3-1, the Terriers couldn’t get a shot on goal.

“We find a way to fire [the puck] into pads or we miss the net,” said Quinn. “It’s just a mentality. If you’re not aware of who has the puck or who is on top of you, you’re not going to get the shot off.”

Take nothing away from the BC team that was across the ice from the Terriers. For the good part of 60 minutes on Friday, particularly in the third period, the Eagles looked like they were putting on a clinic. Doing so against your premier rival certainly feels pretty darn special.

“It’s two points every game,” said BC’s Bill Arnold who collected his 100th career point Friday. “But when you play BU, it’s a totally different game.”

Maybe so or maybe not. Friday’s win gives BC an 11-9-1 advantage in the last 21 meetings but, at the same time, the Eagles hold a lopsided 10-3-1 advantage over BU at Agganis Arena since the building opened in 2005.

Those stats meant little to a low-key Quinn after the game. Yes, this was BC. But no, this wasn’t the effort he wanted from his team. And he knows it.

“The score was indicative of the way the game was played,” Quinn said. “I want [the loss] to sting. We need to feel this pain.”

Hockey East picks – November 8-13

Neither of us were very good last weekend, which means I maintain an early two-game lead over the old man.

Jim last week: 6-4-1
Dave last week: 6-4-1
Jim to date: 41-18-5
Dave last week: 39-20-5

Friday, November 8

Boston College at Boston University
Jim’s pick: The renewal of college hockey’s best rivalry will be a bit different without Jack Parker on the BU bench. That, though, has no impact on why I’m picking against the Terriers.
BC 4, BU 2
Dave’s pick: Both teams have had some rough moments in the early going. I’m confident BC has turned the corner, but I’m not as sure about BU.
BC 4, BU 2

Providence at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: I love the way Providence is playing right now and though Merrimack can be tough at home, I’m going the way of the Friars.
PC 3, MC 2
Dave’s pick: I’m also taking the Friars. They’re one blown lead away from being undefeated.
PC 4, MC 2

Vermont at Maine
Jim’s pick: I’m impressed with the Catamounts right now and, even on the road, think they will win the opener of this series.
UVM 5, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: We’re going to differ on this one.  I’m sticking with the Black Bears at home.
Maine 3, UVM 2

Massachusetts at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: This is a home-and-home this year and I think the home teams will hold the advantage.
UNH 3, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: This may well be as much of a must-win game for UNH as exists this early in the year.
UNH 4, UMass 2

Minnesota at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: Hard to pick against the number one team in the nation but I’m going to do exactly that on Friday.
UND 4, Minn. 2
Dave’s pick: Not me.  The Gophers aren’t the number one team for nothing.
Minn. 3, UND 2

Saturday, November 9

Vermont at Maine
Jim’s pick: If this series were in Burlington, I’d pick a Cats sweep. But it’s not.
Maine 3, UVM 2
Dave’s pick: I’m going with a Black Bears sweep as they stay undefeated at home.
Maine 3, UVM 2

Merrimack at Providence
Jim’s pick: The Friars continue to roll early in the season.
PC 4, MC 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. Providence will go to 6-0-0 at home.
PC 3, MC 1

New Hampshire at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: Home teams dominate this series.
UMass 4, UNH 3
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats have struggled mightily, but a sweep gets them to 3-5-1.
UNH 3, UMass 2

Northeastern at Massachusetts-Lowell
Jim’s pick: I think this is a more difficult pick that it may appear on the surface as I think NU could pull the upset. Still, I can’t pick that one with Lowell at home.
UML 4, NU 2
Dave’s pick: I’d pick Lowell in this one no matter if it’s played at the Tsongas, Matthews Arena, or on Mars.
UML 4, NU 1

Minnesota at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: Minnesota earns the spilt but will the Gophers remain number one?
Minn. 3, UMD 2
Dave’s pick: I probably should go with a split here, but I’m believing in the Gophers until proven otherwise.
Minn. 4, UND 3

Sunday, November 10

Army at Boston College
Jim’s pick: Army may be one of the hardest working teams in college hockey but still are no match for BC.
BC 5, Army 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. This one won’t be close.
BC 4, Army 1

Tuesday, November 12

Massachusetts-Lowell at Princeton
Jim’s pick: Don’t think this will be an easy game but still should be a road win for the River Hawks.
UML 3, PU 2
Dave’s pick: The River Hawks continue to roll.
UML 4, PU 2

Brown at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: This is a very good Brown team that I believe may frustrate the Wildcats.
Brown 3, UNH 2
Dave’s pick: Call me crazy, but I’m picking a team that entered the weekend 1-5-1 to sweep its three games.
UNH 2, Brown 1

Thursday, November 14

Boston College at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: Though UMass always gives BC fits at the Mullins Center, I still can’t pick against the Eagles.
BC 3, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed.  Home or away, I’m going with the Eagles in this matchup.
BC 3, UMass 2

Massachusetts-Lowell at Penn State
Jim’s pick: First of a two-game series is all River Hawks.
UML 5, PSU 2
Dave’s pick: The River Hawks should dominate this one.
UML 4, PSU 1

Catamounts prove they are legit, but is finishing a problem?

The Vermont Catamounts, the majority pick to finish among the bottom of Hockey East, proved this weekend they can play with the best, earning a split at home with No. 2 Notre Dame. But the Catamounts also showed that finishing a game is still a challenge, coming minutes away from a sweep of the Irish. That is the first of three things I learned this weekend:

1) Seven minutes from heaven

Vermont, a club I said in the preseason would be better than most predicted due to its mostly upperclassmen squad, showed signs of brilliance this weekend. In the end, the Cats earned a weekend sweep with a very good Notre Dame squad. But given the fact that Vermont owned a two-goal lead on Saturday, only to squander it late in the game and lose in regulation shows this team may need to learn a thing or two about finishing a game. And while Kevin Sneddon was disappointed that his team squandered a lead on Saturday, letting Notre Dame take a 3-2 advantage with less than six minutes remaining, his biggest concern was his team’s lack of response in the waning minutes of the game.

“Notre Dame got a tough, off-angle goal to tie it up, and out next shift out we just coughed up a really bad turnover,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “From that point on we just didn’t have a response. We started to play as individuals. We played five periods and 13 minutes of pretty good hockey. It’s disappointing because we felt we could’ve come away with four points.”

2) Welcome back, River Hawks

A couple of weekends ago I was writing about Massachusetts-Lowell’s early season struggles after a two-game sweep at the hands of Quinnipiac led to a 1-3-0 start for the River Hawks. Since that time, Lowell has responded well. Four straight wins have this team playing with the confidence that a preseason No. 1 should. A major part of Lowell’s success in the last four games has been the power play. After beginning the season 1-for-25 with the man advantage, the River Hawks are 6-for-16 in their four wins and scored two power play goals, including the overtime game-winner, on Saturday to complete a weekend sweep of New Hampshire.

3) Providence response earns split with Terriers

When you spot the Providence Friars a 3-0 lead, the prospect of winning aren’t good. With sophomore Jon Gillies in net, the odds of scoring four goals simply isn’t strong. But Boston University proved that hypothesis wrong on Friday, scoring the final four goals of the games to earn a 4-3 win over the Friars.

Impressively, Providence responded the next night at home and earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory for a weekend split with the Terriers. In that game, Gillies made 28 saves and Ross Mauermann, currently second in the nation in scoring, scored twice in the third to break a 1-1 tie.

I’ll talk about this and more, including BC’s response after a tough weekend at Minnesota, in this week’s Hockey East notes column this Wednesday.

Hockey East picks: Nov. 1-2

An ugly performance for me last weekend.

Dave last week: 8-7-2
Jim last week: 10-5-2
Dave’s record-to-date: 33-16-4
Jim’s record-to-date: 35-14-4

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Nov. 1

Maine at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: The Black Bears took two from the Minutemen at Alfond last weekend, but I see UMass drawing first blood in the rematch.
UMass 4, Maine 3
Jim’s pick: I agree that UMass can’t lose to Maine three games in a row.
UMass 3, Maine 1

Notre Dame at Vermont
Dave’s pick: The Irish make their first road trip to New England as part of Hockey East and like the result.
UND 4, UVM 2
Jim’s pick: I think this will be a close game but also believe the Irish are the better team.
UND 3, UVM 2

New Hampshire at Massachusetts-Lowell
Dave’s pick: Are the River Hawks all the way back from their slow start? Far enough back to hold serve in this home-and-home.
UML 3, UNH 2
Jim’s pick: This game concerns me in that I know both teams are solid but Lowell is coming off two wins and UNH has posted back-to-back losses. The trend says pick Lowell. The “we’re pissed and ready to win” factor says pick UNH. I’m going with the trend, though.
UML 4, UNH 2

Providence at Boston University
Dave’s pick: The undefeated Friars venture out on the road for the first time and produce a win in their first league action.
PC 3, BU 2
Jim’s pick: This is a good test for BU. While I think being at home should be a factor, it’s not enough to sway me from picking the red-hot Friars.
PC 4, BU 2

Northeastern at Boston College
Dave’s pick: Northeastern has been scoring a ton and sports a 5-1 record; BC has been allowing goals at an uncharacteristic pace and stands at 2-2-1. Nevertheless, I’m going with the Eagles.
BC 4, NU 2
Jim’s pick: Northeastern will win one of these games. It just won’t be on the road.
BU 5, NU 3

Bentley at Merrimack
Dave’s pick: The Warriors move to .500 as they drop Bentley to a 1-6 mark.
MC 4, Bentley 1
Jim’s pick: Not sure this game will be very close.
MC 5, Bentley 2

Saturday, Nov. 2

Notre Dame at Vermont
Dave’s pick: The Irish head back to South Bend with their first four points in Hockey East.
UND 3, UVM 1
Jim’s pick: Vermont will respond with a great game. And while a tie is possible, I don’t see Notre Dame losing.
UND 2, UVM 1

Boston College at Northeastern
Dave’s pick: The Eagles sweep to slam the brakes on the Huskies’ strong  start.
BC 4, NU 3
Jim’s pick: Here is where Dave and I finally differ. I am confident Northeastern grabs a win in this series and its ability to beat BC at home in recent years says this will be the night.
NU 3, BC 1

Maine at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: The Black Bears salvage the road sweep for their first Hockey East points.
Maine 2, UMass 1
Jim’s pick: Going with the home sweep for UMass.
UMass 4, Maine 2

Massachusetts-Lowell at New Hampshire
Dave’s pick: I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see either team sweep, but I’m going with a UNH win at home to gain the split.
UNH 3, UML 2
Jim’s pick: I agree totally with Dave that either team could sweep here and I’m not shocked. But I’ll also pick a split.
UNH 2, UML 1

Boston University at Providence
Dave’s pick: The Friars remain unbeaten and extend BU’s losing streak to four games.
PC 4, BU 2
Jim’s pick: Agree. Picking the Friars to improve to 7-0-1.
PC 3, BU 2

 

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