Hockey East picks: Jan. 2-6

Another week in which I was unable to gain ground on Dave, thus he’ll enter 2015 with a two-game lead.

Jim last week: 7-4-0
Jim to date: 92-46-11
Dave last week: 7-4-0
Dave to date: 94-44-11

Friday, January 2

Connecticut at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: I really like the way UConn is playing right now and thought they gave UMass Lowell everything it could handle last week. Not sure UMass is that strong, even at home.
UC 4, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed all the way. I really like the job Coach Mike Cavanaugh has done at UConn.
UC 4, UMass 2

Canisius at Maine
Jim’s pick: I think playing Canisius at home might be exactly what the doctor ordered for a struggling Maine team.
Maine 4, CC 3
Dave’s pick: The Black Bears have fallen to 4-13-1. They need wins wherever they can be found.
Maine 3, CC 2

St. Lawrence at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: I’m not sure which is the stronger team here, so I’ll go with the Huskies on home ice.
NU 3, SLU 2
Dave’s pick: Since opening the season 0-8-1, the Huskies have won five of seven and four of the last five.
NU 4, SLU 2

Mariucci Classic (Minneapolis, Minn.)

RIT vs. UMass Lowell
Jim’s pick: River Hawks continue to play some pretty decent hockey.
UML 5, RIT 2
Dave’s pick: Decent? First place in Hockey East and ninth in the country? I’d call that wickid good.
UML 4, RIT 1

Merrimack at Minnesota
Jim’s pick: This is easily Merrimack’s toughest out-of-conference opponent this year. And I just don’t think the solid first half is enough to pick the Warriors in this one.
MN 5, MC 3
Dave’s pick: Yeah, sorry, Warriors fans. I’d be picking a loss even if it were in your barn.
MN 5, MC 2

Ledyard Bank Classic (Hanover, N.H.)

Brown vs. Boston College
Jim’s pick: My only concern here is BC’s absences due to the World Junior tournament. Still, I think the Eagles will have enough to get past a 3-8 Brown team.
BC 5, Brown 3
Dave’s pick: I think those absences (especially Thatcher Demko’s) could turn this one into a nail-biter, but I agree with Jim. Brown doesn’t have enough to knock off the Eagles.
BC 3, Brown 2

Saturday, January 3

Union at Boston University
Jim’s pick: Without Eichel, I’m concerned a bit about BU. But Union didn’t show me much against Connecticut or Sacred Heart last weekend.
BU 4, Union 2
Dave’s pick: Union’s recent struggles were eye-opening. Maybe it was just holiday rust, but maybe not. I think this is a game BU’s “other stars” rise to the challenge, showing they aren’t just a bunch of second bananas.
BU 3, Union 1

Canisius at Maine
Jim’s pick: Even though I think Canisius is a good enough team to earn a split, I’ll give Maine the home ice benefit of the doubt.
Maine 4, Canisius 3 (OT)
Dave’s pick: Maine hasn’t inspired confidence this season, but I’m going to be a Hockey East homer on this one.
Maine 3, Canisius 2

St. Lawrence at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: I’m pretty sure Dave will call this pick the Hockey East homer in me.
NU 3, SLU 2
Dave’s pick: Not at all. In Northeastern’s recent wins, they’ve toppled nationally ranked Providence and Minnesota. I think the Huskies are the better team and they’re at home, to boot.
NU 4, SLU 2

Colorado College at Providence
Jim’s pick: This might be the easiest pick of the weekend with two teams headed in different directions.
PC 5, CC 1
Dave’s pick: Agreed. Colorado College has fallen on very tough times.
PC 4, CC 1

Vermont at Yale
Jim’s pick: Even though they lost at home to Providence, I’m not picking against Vermont right now.
UVM 3, Yale 2
Dave’s pick: I think this will be very close, especially on the road, but Vermont has earned my pick until proven otherwise.
UVM 3, Yale 2 (OT)

Mariucci Classic (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Championship/Consolation games
Jim’s pick:
With two Hockey East teams in this field, there are a lot of scenarios to pick here. But long story short is I believe the Gophers win their tournament on home ice.
MN 3, UML 2; MC 3, RIT 1; UML 4, MC 2

Dave’s pick: I’ve been loathe to pick against the River Hawks, but Minnesota on its own ice is just too tough a challenge.
MN 3, UML 2 (OT); MC 2, RIT 1; UML 4, MC 1

Ledyard Bank Classic (Hanover, N.H.)
Boston College at Dartmouth
Jim’s pick:
I actually think that the World Junior losses will do in BC in this pre-determined opponent tournament.
DC 4, BC 3
Dave’s pick:
Although goaltending could be a problem with Demko away, not to mention issues with depth, I still think the Eagles squeak this one out, even on hostile ice.
BC 3, DU 2

Sunday, January 4

Colorado College at Providence
Jim’s pick: Providence completes the sweep at home.
PC 4, CC 1
Dave’s pick: No contest.
PC 5, CC 1

Tuesday, January 6

Yale at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: Though I think NU can win two games vs. ECAC opponents to begin the year, Yale won’t be number three.
Yale 4, NU 2
Dave’s pick: Yale may be 7-3-2, but I still think the hot Huskies prevail on their home ice.
NU 3, Yale 2 (OT)

Colorado College at Connecticut (Bridgeport, Conn.)
Jim’s pick: The Huskies continue solid play to start the second half.
UC 3, CC 2
Dave’s pick:  I’ve been too impressed by the Huskies this year to pick a 3-11-1 team to beat them.
UC 3, CC 1

Hockey East picks – Dec. 27 – 31

In the handful of contests last week, I doubled my lead over Jim.  (Somehow, that sounds a lot more impressive than saying my lead went from one to two games.)

I could complain that I would have widened that lead even more if I’d picked the New Hampshire – Maine split the other way, but I’ll take the extra margin and do my best to shut up.

Dave last week: 4-2-0
Jim last week: 3-3-0
Dave’s record-to-date: 87-40-11
Jim’s record-to-date: 85-42-11

Here are this week’s picks:

Frozen Holiday Classic (Bridgeport, CT)

Saturday/Sunday, Dec. 27/28

Massachusetts-Lowell vs Sacred Heart 
Dave’s pick: Sacred Heart stunned the River Hawks a year ago on banner-raising night, but that ain’t happening again.
UML 5, SH 1
Jim’s pick: I think this game has the chance to be closer, but still think Lowell will come out ahead.
UML 4, SH 2

Union vs Connecticut
Dave’s pick: Union hasn’t been dominating the ECAC, but it’ll be good enough to advance to the finals.
Union 4, UConn 1
Jim’s pick: Again, I think Dave’s margin here is a little off but I can’t disagree with the result.
Union 3, UConn 2

Championship/Third-Place Games
Dave’s pick: I’m taking Lowell over all comers, and UConn over Sacred Heart.
UML 3, Union 2; UML 4, UConn 1; Union 3, SH 1; UConn 2, SH 1
Jim’s pick: If Lowell and Union go head-to-head in the title game, that is the marquis matchup. But the first games back from break are always unpredictable.
UML 4, Union 3; UML 4, UConn 2; Union 4, SH 1; UConn 3, SH 1

Florida College Classic (Estero, FL)

Sunday/Monday, Dec. 28/29

Miami vs Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: I’ve been a little too optimistic about the Irish this year, so this time I’m going with Miami.
Miami 3, UND 2
Jim’s pick: Tough game to pick, but I might as well be a little different than Dave.
UND 4, Miami 3

Championship/Third-Place Game 
Dave’s pick: A match-up with 3-17-0 Lake State will be a cakewalk for Notre Dame, nostalgia notwithstanding; Cornell will be a lot more interesting. It’s a win either way.
UND 5, LSSU 1; UND 3, Cornell 2
Jim’s pick: I agree with Dave on Lake State – no problem for their ex-coach’s squad. But Cornell is another story.
UND 4, LSSU 1; Cornell 4, UND 3

Catamount Cup (Vermont)

Sunday, Dec. 28

Providence vs Massachusetts 
Dave’s pick: These two teams are going in opposite directions. No contest.
PC 4, UMass 1
Jim’s pick: Providence had things rolling into break. Did the days off hurt?
PC 3, UMass 2

Air Force at Vermont
Dave’s pick: This one would be lopsided at any venue. Even more so in the Catamounts’ barn.
UVM 5, AF 1
Jim’s pick: I don’t think Dave gives Air Force enough credit. But I don’t give them enough credit to squeak out a win.
UVM 4, AF 2

Monday, Dec. 29

Air Force vs Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: The second-round matchups are predetermined; I’m going with the Minutemen in a close one.
UMass 3, AF 2
Jim’s pick: I have never liked pre-determined field tournaments, but this one does mean UVM and UMass don’t have to meet again (met twice at end of November). I actually think Air Force can pull out a win in this one.
AF 4, UMass 3

Providence at Vermont
Dave’s pick: I was going to pick the Friars until I saw that the Catamounts are undefeated at home. I’m still mightily tempted, but I think home ice wins out. Barely.
UVM 2, PC 1 (OT)
Jim’s pick: Have to agree here. UVM at the Gut is an impressive team. Though this is an impressive matchup.
UVM 3, PC 2

Tuesday/Wednesday, Dec. 30/31

New Hampshire at Omaha 
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats are struggling and Nebraska-Omaha is 10-4-2. Unfortunately, I don’t think UNH comes out with more than a point.
UNO 4, UNH 3; UNO 3, UNH 2
Jim’s pick: Especially on the road, I have to agree with Dave. I will pick a sweep for the Mavericks, but should UNH come away with three or four points, this could be the turnaround this club needs.
UNO 3, UNH 1; UNO 4, UNH 2

BC’s seniors, homes away from home, and Vermont’s defense

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

1. So maybe Boston College’s seniors are better than I’ve claimed.

I’ve commented about how limited BC’s senior forwards are, referring to them as role players and not the scoring leaders you need out of at least some of your upperclassmen.

While I still think there’s some merit to my comments, I need to give a couple of those seniors their due. In BC’s 5-1 win over Michigan, Destry Straight scored his sixth goal of the season while Quinn Smith scored his fifth and sixth goals.

If you look at the league goalscoring leaders, six goals puts those two just outside the top 14.

Not Johnny Gaudreau. Not Jack Eichel. But also not chopped liver.

Mea culpa.

2. Some home games aren’t really at home.

Just ask New Hampshire and Maine.

The two played a home-away-from-home series this past weekend. On Friday, UNH played its home game at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester (instead of the Whittemore Center in Durham). One night later, the two teams played at Maine’s alternate home venue, the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland (instead of the Alfond Arena in Orono).

Both teams had been miserable on the road this year. Maine had lost all six of their road contests and UNH was only one game better. (In fact, the Black Bears’ struggles away from Alfond extended to last season as well when they won only once all season on the road.)

Well, apparently home-away-from-homes are really sufficiently away from home to end all home cooking and road hexes. Maine won at Manchester; UNH won at Portland.

Go figure.

3. Vermont isn’t just a very good defensive team. The Catamounts are the best.

Go ahead and look it up. The Catamounts aren’t merely having a terrific season (13-3-1), fueled by a strong offense and the best defense in the league.

They’re better than that.

After sweeping a home-and-home with St. Lawrence this past weekend, 2-1 and 2-0, Vermont became the number one defensive team in the country. The Catamounts are allowing only 1.53 goals per game.

Not too shabby.

Hockey East picks – Dec. 12-16

I had a pretty good week, but so did Jim. My razor-thin margin remains.

Dave last week: 6-1-2
Jim last week: 6-1-2
Dave’s record-to-date: 83-38-11
Jim’s record-to-date: 82-39-11

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Dec. 12

Maine at New Hampshire 
Dave’s pick: Maine’s home/road splits are hard to ignore, and I also think the Wildcats are much better than their record.
UNH 4, UM 2
Jim’s pick: I agree with Dave here. Though I like the way Maine is playing right now, its record away from Alfond is impossible to ignore.
UNH 3, UM 2

St. Lawrence at Vermont
Dave’s pick: St. Lawrence is a good team, but Vermont is even better.
UVM 4, SLU 2
Jim’s pick: At home, Vermont is a pretty easy pick.
UVM 5, SLU 2

Saturday, Dec. 13

Michigan at Boston College

Dave’s pick: BC is only one game over .500; Michigan, two. Home ice makes the difference.
BC 3, UM 2
Jim’s pick: I have seen both of these teams play in person and I think that Michigan was a much better team. Does that play out on road ice?
UM 4, BC 3

New Hampshire at Maine
Dave’s pick: It’s all about the venue in this matchup. Maine has been under .500 at home, but UNH has only a single road win.
UM 4, UNH 3
Jim’s pick: The fact this game is in Portland and not Orono is part of my decision to pick against Maine.
UNH 4, UM 3

Boston University at Rensselaer 
Dave’s pick: Even on the road, this one isn’t close. BU is too strong.
BU 5, RPI 2
Jim’s pick: BU should be the better team.
BU 4, RPI 2

Vermont at St. Lawrence 
Dave’s pick: I was close to picking a split here, but the Catamounts have made me a believer.
UVM 3, SLU 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: This will be a great game on the road for Vermont.
UVM 4, SLU 2

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Northeastern at Massachusetts 
Dave’s pick: In recent weeks, the Huskies have defeated Merrimack, Minnesota and Providence, with the latter win on the road. It may have taken them until Nov. 15 to get their first W, but this game gives them five in their last seven.
NU 4, UMass 3
Jim’s pick: This might be the most difficult game to pick. Yes, Northeastern is playing much better hockey but UMass has been strong of late as well. Home ice gets my pick.
UMass 3, NU 1

Defending Eichel, Seney, and Notre Dame

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

1. I wonder if some defensemen give too much space to Jack Eichel.

Not always. Not even most of the time. But too often.

Eichel seems to be a player that you have to play a “tight gap” defense against. You have to stay in his face and give him no space with which to wheel and deal.

The instinct to back off a fast, supremely skilled forward is understandable, especially considering how effortlessly Eichel can accelerate. Blink and he’s at full speed.

But opposing defensemen are going to have to fight that back-off instinct and consistently stay in his face or risk winding up on the wrong end of highlight reels.

Yes, I know. Easier said than done.

2. There’s another terrific rookie in the league and his name is Brett Seney.

Not, he’s not Eichel. No one is.

But Merrimack’s Brett Seney is a terrific freshman, second only to the BU phenom in overall Hockey East points and goals by freshmen.

He’s scored six goals and totaled 15 points.  He’s quick and possesses a deadly wrist shot.

His sixth goal of the season, ripped top shelf after flying up his off wing, staked Merrimack to a 1-0 lead against BU on Friday night. Although the Warriors had to settle for a tie, it amounted to an important point since BU took the home half of the weekend series.

3. Despite the shutout on Saturday, I’m concerned about Notre Dame’s defense.

When you think of Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, you think of suffocating team defense. His Lake Superior State teams won national championships using that blueprint. Last year, the Irish finished second in team defense in their inaugural Hockey East season. (Massachusetts-Lowell was first.)

Prior to Saturday’s shutout of Massachusetts, however, the Irish had allowed five goals in each of the last two games and at least two goals over their last 11. Two goals isn’t bad, of course, but when that’s the best result during a reasonably long stretch and you allow five goals three times and four goals twice, you’ve got defensive problems.

Even including the shutout, the Irish rank ninth in team defense. Perhaps Saturday’s shutout is a sign of better things to come. It had better if the Irish are going to have a successful season.

Hockey East picks – Dec. 5-9

For the second straight week, Dave and I had just one game picked differently. And for the second straight week, I won that game. Thus, I have trimmed Dave’s lead to the slimmest of margins as we near the halfway point.

Jim last week: 10-7-0
Jim to-date: 76-38-9
Dave last week: 9-8-0
Dave to-date: 77-37-9

Friday, December 5

Boston University at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: There are a lot of tough games to pick this weekend and this game leads that list. Home ice favors the Warriors but BU has to be hungry having lost two of its last three. I think the Terriers can prevail even on enemy ice.
BU 4, MC 2
Dave’s pick:  How do you pick against a team that’s 7-1-0 at home? When it’s playing a team as talented as BU.
BU 4, MC 2

Notre Dame at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: Neither team has played stellar of late though both have a recent game where they played well. I am going with Notre Dame strictly on the better on-paper matchup.
ND 3, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: I’ve been picking Notre Dame a lot more than I should have this year, but UMass is only 1-4-0 at home.
ND 4, UMass 2

Boston College at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: I am going with what I think may be a minority pick here as I think that New Hampshire has the talent to win at home.
UNH 4, BC 3
Dave’s pick: This may be the game where Jim draws even with me, but I think the Wildcats have been struggling too much. BC has also played reasonably (.500) on the road.
BC 3, UNH 2 (OT)

Saturday, December 6

New Hampshire at Boston College
Jim’s pick: Back at Kelley Rink, I think BC should be able to win.
BC 4, UNH 2
Dave’s pick: The Eagles have five players on the preliminary US Junior roster, so they’d better pile up the wins, especially at home, while they can.
BC 4, UNH 2

Merrimack at Boston University
Jim’s pick: BU heads home to complete the sweep of the Warriors.
BU 5, MC 3
Dave’s pick: Agreed.  The Terriers sweep the previously 10-4-1 Warriors.
BU 5, MC 2

Northeastern at Providence
Jim’s pick: This sweep is over a four-day period, but Providence should be able to follow up its 5-1 road win on Wednesday.
PC 4, NU 1
Dave’s pick: A win here makes it a five-game winning streak. Is this the emergence of the Friars as we expected them to be in the preseason?
PC 3, NU 1

Notre Dame at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: This feels like a split to me, but I’ll pick the sweep in hopes of getting at least one game correct.
ND 4, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: Sorry, UMass fans. I’m not as optimistic as Jim is. I think it’s going to be a tough year for the Minutemen.
ND 4, UMass 1

Maine at UMass Lowell
Jim’s pick: Maine is awful on the road. But the Black Bears also have been trouble for Lowell in recent seasons. I should maybe give the Black Bears the benefit and pick them, but I have to go with the trend: Road + Maine = Loss.
UML 4, Maine 3
Dave’s pick: I use a simpler math than Jim. League records. 6-0-2 > 2-5-0.
UML 4, Maine 1

Tuesday, December 9

Colgate at Providence
Jim’s pick: This is another difficult game to pick. I know Colgate will be a tough opponent but I think home ice is enough to carry the Friars.
PC 3, CU 2
Dave’s pick: This was my toughest pick of the week. Colgate had impressed but the Friars were on a roll. Like Jim, I think home ice makes the difference.
PC 3, CU 2 (OT)

Difficulty wearing the target, surprising Warriors and a turning point for NU?

If you were a Hockey East team ranked in the top 10 in the nation’s polls, this wasn’t a great week. That leads off the three things I learned this week:

1. It ain’t easy wearing a target on your back

Everyone knows it’s lonely at the top, and for many of the Hockey East teams ranked in this week’s USCHO.com poll, results weren’t pleasant. Newly-minted number one Boston University shouldn’t even to pay rent on the top spot as they will be quickly evicted come Monday. The Terriers dropped an OT decision to No. 18 Harvard on Tuesday and lost to Dartmouth, 2-0, on Sunday (a come-from-behind win over No. 9 Colgate was sandwiched in between). Harvard also knocked off No. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell, while No. 12 Boston College fell twice to No. 3 Minnesota and No. 20 Providence. No. 13 Vermont swept a two-game non-conference series at Maine. Coupled with the aforementioned win for Providence those were the lone highlights for the nationally-ranked Hockey East teams on the weekend.

2. So how good is Merrimack?

This has become the most daunting question I ponder in Hockey East these days. At 10-4-1, the Warriors are among the few teams in the nation with double-digit wins. They swept Clarkson at home this weekend to improve their record at Lawler Arena to 7-1-0 and have won five of their last seven. A part of me is duly impressed by the fast start for a Merrimack team most figured would finish among the bottom three in Hockey East. And another part of me keeps going back to the question: “Who have they played?” The only nationally-ranked opponent on Merrimack’s schedule to date was Providence. That series was a split. Taking the Friars out of the equation, Merrimack has only played one other team with a record over .500 (Mercyhurst at 5-4-2) and the cumulative record of the remaining six opponents is 24-45-16. So while I want to jump on the Merrimack bandwagon, I may wait a few weeks. The Warriors will have their first true test this weekend when they face Boston University in a home-and-home before traveling out to the Mariucci Classic after the New Year to face Minnesota and either Massachusetts-Lowell or RIT.

3. Have the Huskies turned things around?

With a 3-9-1 record, no one should be talking about any sort of a turnaround for Northeastern. But considering the fact that the Huskies are 3-1-0 in their last four game and that Saturday’s victory came over a highly-potent Minnesota team that one night earlier dismantled Boston College and you can’t blame yourself for at least taking notice. Northeastern certainly hasn’t flicked the offensive switch in the last four games, scoring just 10 goals in the stretch. But defensively, Northeastern has improved. In the three wins, NU has allowed just a single goal twice and two goals once. All three of the victories also came with Clay Witt between the pipes. Witt missed six games earlier in the season with injury and Northeastern went 0-5-1 over that stretch.

Hockey East picks – Nov. 28-Dec. 3

Dave and I picked differently on just two games last week and one of those wasn’t played. So I made up the most I possibly could on the deficit.

Jim last week: 11-3-1
Jim to-date: 66-31-9
Dave last week: 10-4-1
Dave to-date: 68-29-9

Friday, November 26

Minnesota at Boston College
Jim’s pick: I would like to think that home ice is enough to sway this game, but having seen Minnesota play on tape I think they are simply the better team
UM 4, BC 2
Dave’s pick: I have to agree. BC isn’t yet the juggernaut we come to expect each year.
UM 4, BC 2

Clarkson at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: I’ll admit to not knowing much about Clarkson this season. What I do know is that Merrimack has been a beast at home.
MC 3, CU 1
Dave’s pick:  I’m giving the Warriors the opener. A 5-1-0 home record is nothing to trifle with.
MC 3, CU 2

Vermont at Maine (non-conference)
Jim’s pick: The way that the Catamounts dismantled UMass in the last two games gives me even more faith this team can win at Maine.
UVM 4, UM 2
Dave’s pick: Much has been made of Maine’s inability to win on the road, but the Black Bears are only .500 at home. That’s not good enough to topple a team playing as well as Vermont.
UVM 3, UM 2

Massachusetts at Quinnipiac
Jim’s pick: I would like to think UMass could respond to tough losses to UVM with a great non-conference opponent. Quinnipiac on the road, though, isn’t the right matchup.
QU 4, UMass 1
Dave’s pick: Since Quinnipiac comes into this one at 8-3-1, I don’t think this is the right matchup regardless of the venue.
QU 4, UMass 2

Union at Notre Dame (Shillelagh Tournament, South Bend, Ind.)
Jim’s pick: This might be the most difficult game to pick. If Notre Dame can score some goals, they can win. That is a bit of an ‘if’, though. So home ice is my deciding factor.
UND 3, Union 2 (OT)
Dave’s pick: Notre Dame is surprisingly only at .500, and Union is even more surprisingly just a game over that mark. As Jim says, home ice decides this one.
UND 3, Union 2

Saturday, November 29

Boston College at Providence
Jim’s pick: Between Nick Ellis and Jon Gillies, Providence is riding back-to-back shutouts and a streak of 161:22 without allowing a goal. Against strong opponents BC’s offense hasn’t clicked. Thus, I’m going with the Friars.
PC 3, BC 2
Dave’s pick: I never expected these two teams to be cumulatively only three games over .500. So I’m going with home ice.
PC 3, BC 2 (OT)

Connecticut at Brown
Jim’s pick: UConn has played well against the top teams and no-so-well against teams they should beat. That’s what makes me nervous here. But the Hockey East homer in me will pick the Huskies.
UC 2, BU 1
Dave’s pick: There are only two teams in the country without a single point at home. Wisconsin is one; Brown is the other. It’s a small sample size, but UConn has just been playing better.
UC 3, BU 2

Colgate at Boston University
Jim’s pick: A loss to Harvard should give BU a shot in the arm.
BU 5, CU 2
Dave’s pick: The Terriers ain’t ranked number one for nothin’.
BU 4, CU 2

Clarkson at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: The Warriors continue to love home cooking.
MC 3, CU 2
Dave’s pick:  Clarkson is better than its .500 record so I think the Raiders salvage the split despite Merrimack’s prowess at home.
CU 3, MC 2

Vermont at Maine (non-conference)
Jim’s pick: I should be picking a split given Maine’s success on home ice. But my gut says that UVM keeps on winning.
UVM 3, UM 2
Dave’s pick: As I noted before, Maine hasn’t been that successful at home. The Catamounts sweep.
UVM 4, UM 2

Minnesota at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: If I can’t pick BC to beat the Gophers, I certainly can’t pick Northeastern.
UM 6, NU 2
Dave’s pick: This one could get ugly.
UM 5, NU 1

Quinnipiac at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: The Bobcats win the back end of the home-and-home for the two-game sweep.
QU 3, UMass 2
Dave’s pick:  Agreed. Quinnipiac sweeps.
QU 4, UMass 2

Harvard at Massachusetts-Lowell
Jim’s pick: These are two of the nation’s hottest teams right now. And home ice proves the razor thin difference.
UML 3, HU 2
Dave’s pick: Despite Harvard’s impressive win over BU, I’m sticking with the River Hawks until proven wrong.
UML 4, HU 2

Ohio State/Western Michigan at Notre Dame (at Shillelagh Tournament, South Bend, Ind.)
Jim’s pick: Regardless of the opponent, I believe that the Irish should come out on top.
ND 4, OSU 1; ND 4, WMU 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. Neither Ohio State nor Western Michigan have impressed this year.
ND 4, OSU 2; ND 5, WMU 1

Boston University at Dartmouth
Jim’s pick: A busy week ends on a winning note for BU.
BU 5, DC 2
Dave’s pick: That loss to the Crimson was just an aberration.
BU 4, DC 1

Wednesday, December 3

Providence at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: Things just don’t get any simpler for the Huskies.
PC 3, NU 2
Dave’s pick: The Huskies have won two of their last three, but they’ve also won only two for the entire season.
PC 4, NU 2

Connecticut at Massachusetts-Lowell
Jim’s pick: UConn has played the top of Hockey East tough. But that is a reason that Lowell should be ready.
UML 4, UC 2
Dave’s pick: Yup, I’m a River Hawk believer.
UML 4, UC 2

The trio to beat, 11 goals and Eichel

We’re about a third of the way through the league slate for most of the teams in Hockey East and it appears that there is a trio of teams to beat a top the Hockey East standings. That leads my three things I learned this weekend:

1. UML, BU and UVM: The alphabet soup trio at the top

Massachusetts-Lowell and Boston University have gotten off to fast starts in the first third of their seasons enough so that they are an obvious pair that should be in the running come season’s end for the Hockey East title. Vermont also can be thrown into that mix, though with a little bit more caution. Lowell has played seven games in league play without a loss (5-0-2). BU has played one more game and sits a point ahead at 6-1-1. Tied with BU is Vermont, though the Catamounts are the only team in the league to have already played 10 league contests or nearly half of the 22 league games. But their 6-3-1 record warrants them to be placed in this trio at the top that everyone is chasing.

And speaking of Vermont… 11 goals?

It is rare that you see a team reach double digits in goals, but that’s exactly what Vermont did on Saturday night, embarrassing their western New England rival Massachusetts, 11-1. Surprisingly, no one recorded a hat trick. If fact, only two players – Brady Shaw and Malcolm McKinney – had multi-goal game. But the UVM offense simply exploded scoring four times on the power play (though three came in the third when the game was out of reach). The loss was so bad that UMass coach John Micheletto apologized to his fans in the post-game press conference. These two faceoff again on Tuesday night in their traditional pre-Thanksgiving midweek game.

Eichel being Eichel

By now, I’m sure many of you have seen Jack Eichel’s game-winning goal from Friday’s 3-2 overtime win against Maine. If not, you only have to watch the first 15 or so seconds of this Youtube video:

We all know by now that Eichel will be the most talked about rookie (and possibly player) in Hockey East this season. His 19 points in 10 games leads the nation in points per game (1.90). But where does he rank among some of the other great forwards to go through Hockey East in recent years? Some players who posted impressive rookie years include Brian Gionta (1.55 points per game), Darren Haydar (1.48 PPG), Marty Reasoner (1.32 PPG) and Stephane DaCosta (1.32 PPG). Last year’s Hobey Baker winner Johnny Gaudreau averaged only a point a game as a rookie while another Hobey winner, Jason Krog, put up just .58 points per game his freshman year. And then there is probably the best rookie comparison for Eichel right now, Paul Kariya. In his legendary rookie campaign Kariya, the last person to score 100 points in a season, averaged 2.56 points per game. Those stats came in a totally different era for offense in college hockey. More on this on Thursday.

Hockey East picks – Nov. 21-25

Last week was good, but not great. My lead stays at three games.

Dave last week: 8-4-1
Jim last week: 8-4-1
Dave’s record-to-date: 58-25-8
Jim’s record-to-date: 55-28-8

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Nov. 21

Vermont at Connecticut 
Dave’s pick: Both teams have been very pleasant surprises, but the Catamounts should emerge victorious.
UVM 2, UConn 1
Jim’s pick: Agreed. As well as UConn has played, UVM is the better team.
UVM 4, UConn 2

Boston College at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: The Eagles win their second straight with style.
BC 4, UMass 1
Jim’s pick: Sometimes this game can be a headache for BC. But I still think BC can win
BC 3, UMass 2

Northeastern at Merrimack
Dave’s pick: Home ice makes the difference in this matchup.
MC 2, NU 1
Jim’s pick: I think this is more than just home ice. Merrimack is simply a better team right.
MC 4, NU 1

Maine at Boston University
Dave’s pick: What a rebound the Terriers have made from last year!
BU 4, UM 2
Jim’s pick: Road. Maine. Enough said.
BU 5, UM 2

Providence at New Hampshire 
Dave’s pick: I keep saying that this is the week that the Friars assert themselves. But if I keep saying it and it still doesn’t happen, pretty soon I’ve got to stop saying it. One more week.
PC 3 UNH 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: Both of these teams confuse me right now. I feel like Providence is the better team. But I like the influence of home ice.
UNH 3, PC 2

Massachusetts-Lowell at Notre Dame 
Dave’s pick: It’s hard not to pick a split the way the league has been going, but since the Thursday night win is already a done deal, I’m going with the River Hawks to sweep.
UML 4, UND 3
Jim’s pick: I said last week that this was a split series, but Lowell dominated Notre Dame over the second half if the game on Thursday, making it too tough to pick the Irish.
UML 2, UND 1

Saturday, Nov. 22

Boston University at Connecticut 
Dave’s pick: The Huskies took a point in this matchup a couple weeks ago, but it’s really hard to pick against the Terriers right now.
BU 4, UConn 2
Jim’s pick: UConn player BU tough in Boston. Which makes this game ripe for revenge.
BU 4, UConn 1

Providence at New Hampshire
Dave’s pick: I should probably go with a split, but I’m remaining all-in on the Friars. At least until next week.
PC 2, UNH 1
Jim’s pick: Friars get the split at home.
PC 4, UNH 1

Maine at Boston College
Dave’s pick: The Black Bears have to get a road win sometime, but I said that for a long time last year, too. The Eagles get their third straight.
BC 3, UM 2
Jim’s pick: I don’t know what the road anti-magic is for Maine but I don’t see it ending soon.
BC 5, UM 2

Merrimack at Northeastern
Dave’s pick: How can I write in this week’s column about all the splits and then pick so many sweeps? I either have a problem with consistency or I’m just plain dumb. But I still think the 7-3-1 team beats the 1-8-1 team.
MC 3, NU 2
Jim’s pick: Yes, Dave is simply stupid.
NU 4, MC 2

Vermont at Massachusetts 
Dave’s pick: The first-place Catamounts run their record to 9-2-1.
UVM 3, UMass 2
Jim’s pick: I continue to simply love the Cats.
UVM 4, UMass 2

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Massachusetts at Vermont
Dave’s pick: Here’s another pick to sweep. The Catamounts pick up six huge league points in five days.
UVM 4, UMass 1
Jim’s pick: If they win on the road, I am picking the Cats at home.
UVM 3, UMass 1

Harvard at Boston University
Dave’s pick: Harvard has jumped out to a great start, but BU trumps that high card.
BU 4, HU 2
Jim’s pick: If this game were at Harvard it is more difficult to pick.
BU 3, HU 2

Army at Providence
Dave’s pick: I made my picks of the Friars sweeping UNH with considerable misgivings. I’ve got none about this one.
PC 4, Army 1
Jim’s pick: Hockey East teams have had their way with Army in recent years. Shouldn’t change here.
PC 5, Army 1

Rensselaer at New Hampshire 
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats win their “sandwich” game between series against Providence and BC.
UNH 3, RPI 2 (OT)
Jim’s pick: RPI is among the most inconsistent. Which team shows up?
UNH 3, RPI 1

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