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


The Big Ten Challenge, Lowell and Maine wins, and BU losses

These are the three things I learned this week.

1. Hockey East wins the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge.

And it wasn’t even close.

Hockey East took a 9-4 lead in the first week and finished it off with a 9-7 performance this past weekend to win the challenge, 18-11.

The scoring system awarded two points for a win, one for a tie, and a bonus point for a road win. This weekend, Massachusetts-Lowell made the most of that system, picking up six points with road wins at Michigan State and Michigan.

What does it mean?

It certainly will help come NCAA tournament selection time.

But until then, clench your fists, pound your chest, and let out a mighty roar.

2. Lowell and Maine enjoyed important turnarounds.

The River Hawks had opened in disappointing fashion, starting the season as the nation’s number one team before losing to Sacred Heart, a team that had won only two games last year. Following a win over Massachusetts, they then got swept in a home-and-home with Quinnipiac.

With the NCAA’s extra importance on road wins and home losses, two of the latter so early in the season were causes for concern.

Well, Lowell took two huge road steps in the right direction. The River Hawks began by beating then-winless Michigan State, 4-1. A tough test followed, however, fourth-ranked Michigan in its own barn.

They aced that one, too, toppling the Wolverines, 2-1.

So those two home losses have now been compensated by two road wins.

Maine had also opened its season in underwhelming fashion, having only a home win over Bentley to offset two losses at St. Lawrence.

Hosting a UMass team that had been playing well, the Black Bears squeaked out a 3-2 overtime victory on Friday night and then followed that on Saturday with a six-goal explosion in the second period to take a clear-cut 8-4 win.

3.On the other hand, there’s Boston University.

The Terriers season has been a mirror image of Lowell’s. BU opened with a 3-1 record before heading West, acting as the River Hawks’ travel partner. It was no embarrassment to lose on Friday to fourth-ranked Michigan, but their strong start would be frittered away if the Terriers didn’t come away with two points against winless Michigan State.

They took a 1-0 lead into the final five minutes of regulation, but surrendered two goals in the span of 52 seconds, and the Spartans added a late empty-netter.

Hey, the season is barely underway and both losses came on the road, but the jury remains out on the 3-3 Terriers.



Hockey East picks: 10/25-10/27

Plenty of games threw me off last week, though Dave was only one game better thus leaving us tied after two weeks.

Dave last week: 10-6-1
Jim last week: 9-7-1
Dave’s record-to-date: 25-9-2
Jim’s record-to-date: 25-9-2

Friday, October 25

Massachusetts at Maine (non-conf.)
Jim’s pick: Both teams are coming off wins but UMass has been a little more impressive thus far. I’m going with the Minutemen.
UMass 3, Maine 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. UMass impressed me even in their season-opening loss to BU.
UMass 3, Maine 2

Massachusetts-Lowell at Michigan State
Jim’s pick: The River Hawks have stumbled out of the gate but so, too, have the Spartans.
UML 5, MSU 3
Dave’s pick: Agreed again. It’s time for the River Hawks to get moving before they dig too big a hole.
UML 3, MSU 2

Miami at Providence
Jim’s pick: This is one of many great games this weekend. And while I feel this is a split, not sure which team will win which night.
PC 4, MU 2
Dave’s pick: I’m a believer in the Friars and this game is at home, but I like Miami just a little more.
MU 3, PC 2 (OT)

Northeastern at St. Lawrence
Jim’s pick: I’m going with the Huskies here based on their offensive success to date.
NU 4, SLU 3
Dave’s pick: I’m remaining skeptical about Northeastern for one more week.
SLU 4, NU 3

Boston University at Michigan
Jim’s pick: BU has done some good things but Michigan is pretty hot out of the gate.
UM 4, BU 2
Dave’s pick: BU’s win over Wisconsin was tempered by the loss to Rensselaer. Michigan has been too strong and is at home.
UM 3, BU 1

Boston College at Minnesota
Jim’s pick: BC may not win both games but I have to believe they’ll want some revenge for last year’s 8-1 loss at Minnesota.
BC 5, UM 3

Dave’s pick: I’m loathe to pick against BC, but Minnesota is operating on all cylinders and will be enjoying a huge home-ice advantage.
UM 4, BC 2

Notre Dame at Minnesota-Duluth
Jim’s pick: Notre Dame is playing really well and, despite a tough road environment, I think the Irish will win.
UND 4, UMD 2

Dave’s pick: Agreed.  It’s hard to pick against the Irish right now.
UND 3, UMD 2

Saturday, October 26

Army at Merrimack
Jim’s pick: The Warriors lost to one AHA team. Don’t see it happening again.
MC 3, Army 1
Dave’s pick: Merrimack has started slow, but I’m still a believer.
MC 4, Army 2

Massachusetts at Maine (non-conf.)
Jim’s pick: Part of me wants to call a sweep here for UMass but I feel like the Black Bears can pull one out.
Maine 3, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: I was about to call this a UMass sweep until I factored in the effect of the Alfond crowd. On neutral ice, I’d like the Minutemen, but this one goes to the Maine-iacs.
Maine 3, UMass 2 (OT)

Boston University at Michigan State
Jim’s pick: BU gets back to the win column against the Spartans.
BU 5, MSU 2
Dave’s pick: Is it pick on the Spartans time? Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.
BU 4, MSU 2

Miami at Providence
Jim’s pick: RedHawks earn the road split.
MU 3, PC 1
Dave’s pick: I wish it weren’t the case, but I’m seeing a RedHawks sweep.
MU 3, PC 2

Vermont vs. Penn State (at Philadelphia)
Jim’s pick: As I’ve said a few times, I expect Vermont to be a decent team and a win against Penn State should be expected.
UVM 5, PSU 3
Dave’s pick: I’ve got low expectations for Penn State in its first year with the big boys.
UVM 4, PSU 1

New Hampshire at Rensselaer
Jim’s pick: I know I called RPI over-rated last week and was proven wrong when they beat BU, but I think UNH, even on the road, is the better team here.
UNH 4, RPI 2
Dave’s pick: After watching UNH dominate Michigan and come away with only a tie last Friday night, I believe the Wildcats are much better than their record.
UNH 3, RPI 2

Northeastern at St. Lawrence
Jim’s pick: I’m expecting the Larries to come back with a victory to earn the split.
SLU 4, NU 1
Dave’s pick: My lingering Husky skepticism points to an SLU sweep.
SLU 3, NU 1

Massachusetts-Lowell at Michigan
Jim’s pick: Lowell needs a few wins to offset early losses but Michigan on the road is the wrong opponent to get those wins.
UM 3, UML 1
Dave’s pick: I might see a different result mid-season and on neutral ice, but this one goes to the Wolverines.
UM 3, UML 2

Notre Dame at Minnesota-Duluth
Jim’s pick: Irish complete a big road sweep.
UND 3, UMD 2

Dave’s pick: With a sweep, the Irish could become the nation’s number one team, if BC cooperates and takes Minnesota down a peg.
UND 4, UMD 3

Sunday, October 27

Boston College at Minnesota
Jim’s pick: I really want to pick a sweep here for the Eagles but the No. 1 team in the nation will get two points from a hungry BC team at home.
UM 3, BC 2
Dave’s pick: It’s been a long time since I picked BC to get swept on a weekend, but the combination of a very tough foe and a very tough crowd combines for that pick.
UM 3, BC 2 (OT)


Hockey East teams more than ready to accept a “Challenge”

The inaugural Hockey East/Big Ten challenge, a 13-game series between Hockey East and Big Ten teams, kicked off this past weekend with Hockey East teams dominating. That leads the three things that I learned this week in Hockey East:

1) Hockey East was up to the “Challenge”

The Hockey East/Big Ten Challenge wasn’t very challenging this weekend as the series kicked off with the veteran Hockey East league posting a dominating 4-1-1 record against its rookie brethren. No. 7 Boston College and No. 15 Boston University both handily defeated No. 2 Wisconsin. Massachusetts, coming off a two-loss weekend to begin the season, swept Michigan State at home. The lone blemishes of the weekend came at the hands of Michigan, which earned a tie and overtime win at New Hampshire. Michigan, in fact, is now 2-0-1 against Hockey East teams after a season-opening win against BC and will host BU and Massachusetts-Lowell next weekend looking to continue the success vs. Hockey East. Both of those games will be part of the “Challenge” as will BU and Lowell’s single games versus Michigan State, BC’s Friday game at Minnesota and Penn State’s game against Vermont which is being played in Philadelphia next Saturday.

2) The top not-so-nice for Lowell

Massachusetts-Lowell began the season a preseason No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll, the first time in program history the school earned the nation’s top ranking. The River Hawks quickly learned that it’s lonely at the top beginning the season 1-3-0. Lowell’s lone win came against Massachusetts, but a season-opening loss to Sacred Heart and a sweep this past weekend in a home-and-home with Quinnipiac gave the River Hawks four consecutive losses to Connecticut teams (Lowell fell to Yale in last year’s Frozen Four). No need to push the panic button for the River Hawks just yet. Lowell began last season 2-5-1 before rallying for the school’s first-ever Frozen Four appearance.

3) An offensive explosion on Huntington Ave.

Don’t look now fans, but the team tied for the most goals thus far in the nation is none other than Northeastern. The Huskies have potted 20 goals in their first four games. Not bad for a team that last season scored just 81 goals total. You can say anything you would like about NU’s first two opponents – Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross – but goals are goals and a team’s offensive ability generally dictates whether or not they can score. I’ll have more on Northeastern in Tuesday’s notes column, but one thing if for sure, this NU team can score.

Hockey East picks: Oct. 18-20

Q: When is a record of 15-3-1 a disappointment?

A: When your competition goes 16-2-1.

Dave last week: 15-3-1
Jim last week: 16-2-1
Dave’s record-to-date: 15-3-1
Jim’s record-to-date: 16-2-1

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Oct. 18

Wisconsin at Boston College
Dave’s pick: This ranks as the Game of the Week, the number two team in the country against number seven. I’m going with number seven, BC at home.
BC 3, Wisconsin 2
Jim’s pick: I agree with Dave that the margin of this selection is narrow but home ice wins out for BC.
BC 2, Wisconsin 1

Northeastern at Holy Cross
Dave’s pick: Holy Cross played BU tough last weekend and Northeastern has struggled against Atlantic Hockey teams in the past.
HC 4, NU 2
Jim’s pick: I think Dave is underestimating the ability of Northeastern. The offense clicked last weekend and I see more of the same this weekend.
NU 5, HC 3

Mercyhurst at Merrimack
Dave’s pick: Don’t let the records deceive you. These two teams may be 0-5 between them, but I expect both to be at least middle-of-the-pack in their conferences. This should be a good game with home ice helping the Merrimack cause.
MC 4, ‘Hurst 2
Jim’s pick: I like Mercyhurst’s team but think that Merrimack will be very fired up to play at home.
MC 4, ‘Hurst 1

Michigan State at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: After two tough road games last weekend, UMass breaks into the win column at home.
UMass 4, MSU 2
Jim’s pick: Good test for UMass at home but I think that the Spartans are a probably a better team.
MSU 3, UMass 2

Quinnipiac at Massachusetts-Lowell
Dave’s pick: The Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda national championship game from last April. I don’t feel terribly confident in this pick since the River Hawks have typically started slowly under coach Norm Bazin, but I’m going with them at home anyway.
UML 3, QU 2
Jim’s pick: After last Friday’s loss for Lowell, I feel like I should be picking QU. But I like Lowell at home in this one.
UML 4, QU 2

Rensselaer at Boston University
Dave’s pick: This clash of Top 20 teams is another one where home ice is helping me decide.
BU 3, RPI 2
Jim’s pick: I think RPI is a little bit over-rated. We’ll find out on Friday night.
BU 4, RPI 2

Michigan at New Hampshire
Dave’s pick: Ditto what I said about RPI and BU. With almost every nonconference game in Hockey East barns, I’m turning into Homer Hendrickson.
UNH 4, UM 3 (OT)
Jim’s pick: Tough one to call. I believe Michigan will earn a win. Questions is which game.
UM 5, UNH 3

Michigan Tech at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: The Irish aren’t number four in the country for nothing. They easily put away their long-time Western foe.
UND 4, MTU 1
Jim’s pick: Agreed. Irish will roll.
UND 5, MTU 2

Saturday, Oct. 19

Wisconsin at Boston University
Dave’s pick: If BU wins this one over the second-ranked Badgers, it’ll make a lot of people sit up and take notice. But I don’t see it happening. The Terriers have played at a level belying what will be a 3-0 record.
UW 4, BU 2
Jim’s pick: Can’t agree more. This is a great test for BU, but I see the Badgers coming away with the win.
UW 3, BU 2

Mercyhurst at Merrimack
Dave’s pick: The Warriors go from being winless without a goal scored following Week One action to .500.
MC 3, ’Hurst 2
Jim’s pick: Another tough one to call but I think at home Merrimack has what it takes.
MC 3, ‘Hurst 2

Holy Cross at Northeastern
Dave’s pick: The Huskies salvage a split to go to 3-1 on the season.
NU 3, HC 2
Jim’s pick: I see this series as a Northeastern sweep, though a high-scoring series.
NU 5, HC 4

American International at Providence
Dave’s pick: The Friars should have an easy time with this one.
PC 4, AIC 1
Jim’s pick: If Providence can avoid a let down, they will win going away
PC 6, AIC 2

Massachusetts-Lowell at Quinnipiac
Dave’s pick: The River Hawks can’t finish off the tough end of a sweep.
QU 3, UML 2
Jim’s pick: This series is close enough that home ice will matter.
QU 4, UML 2

Michigan State at Massachusetts
Dave’s pick: This two-game set has “split” written all over it, but I’m sticking with home ice as a deciding factor. That plus a big weekend for Branden Gracel.
UMass  3, MSU 2
Jim’s pick: I’m going with the split that Dave predicted but wouldn’t call.
UMass 4, MSU 1

Michigan at New Hampshire
Dave’s pick: These two teams are so closely matched, I’ve got to go with a split even though I could go oh-fer picking it the wrong way.
UM 3, UNH 2
Jim’s pick: If Dave goes “oh-fer,” I go 2-for-2
UNH 4, UM 2

Bentley at Maine
Dave’s pick: If the Black Bears don’t get into the win column with this one, the sticks might start getting gripped a little tighter.
UM 4, Bentley 2
Jim’s pick: Maine will get into the win column on Saturday.
UM 5, Bentley 2

Sunday, Oct. 20

Michigan Tech at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: The Irish sweep to move to 4-0 on the season and in the process, inch closer to a number one ranking.
ND 4, MTU 2
Jim’s pick: If they haven’t grabbed your attention yet, start considering Notre Dame a legit contender.
ND 3, MTU 0

No sure thing, Sweepsville, and BU rookies

Here’s the inaugural Monday morning wrapup of the season with the extended column to come on Wednesday.

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

1. There’s no such thing as a sure thing.

The one mortal lock going into last weekend was Massachusetts-Lowell hosting Sacred Heart.  The River Hawks, after all, were coming off a season in which they’d won the Hockey East regular season title, the league tournament, and had advanced to the Frozen Four. After suffering limited attrition in the offseason, they were selected as the nation’s number one team.

Sacred Heart, on the other hand, had to rally last year to finish with a 2-30-4 record.

The matchup appeared so lopsided, I even quipped in the picks blog that if Lowell lost, it should fire coach Norm Bazin.

Well, that piece of comic absurdity blew up in my face when Sacred Heart toppled the River Hawks, 2-1.

2. Don’t expect splits.

Of the six two-game sets between teams last week, not one ended up as a split.  None involved league games so no teams has shot up in the standings or plummeted to an early cellar.

Nonetheless, Providence, Notre Dame and Northeastern got the early upper hand by sweeping their two games with Minnesota State, Western Michigan and Alabama-Huntsville, respectively.  At the other end of the spectrum, Maine and Merrimack got swept by Saint Lawrence and Denver, respectively.

Only Vermont avoided a sweep while also being unable to salvage a split. The Catamounts rebounded after an opening night loss to North Dakota, gaining a tie in the rematch.

What does it all mean?

The season’s only a week old, but Providence and Notre Dame took the biggest first steps to an NCAA berth.

3. Boston University’s freshman forwards look pretty good.

If you play five freshmen forwards (not to mention two freshmen defensemen), there are going to be early-season inconsistencies. On a shift-by-shift level, those were visible in BU’s season opener on Friday.

However, this is a talented group that should round nicely into form. Robbie Baillargeon is playing on the first line with Danny O’Regan and Evan Rodrigues. You don’t begin your career on the first line with only borderline talent.

Friday’s all-rookie third line of Tommy Kelly, Nick Roberto and Brendan Collier exchanged Collier for another freshman, Kevin Duane, on Saturday. On each evening, a member of the line scored.

Tommy Kelley scored on the power play on Friday.  (Note that borderline rookies don’t get power-play time in their first game.) Roberto scored on Saturday, assisted by Duane.

Another freshman, Dillon Lawrence, centered the fourth line each night.

Without contributions from the freshmen, BU will be doomed this year. Based on one weekend, however, this should be a very interesting year for Terrier fans.

First game offers a glimpse of Quinn’s style behind Boston University bench

BOSTON — For the first time since 1973, Boston University began its season with a new head coach behind the bench. It will take a good while to see how similar or different the program will be under David Quinn after the 40-year reign of Jack Parker.

card bostonuniversity First game offers a glimpse of Quinns style behind Boston University benchOn top of the coaching change, BU fans really needed their game programs Friday night, as seven of the 18 skaters in a 3-1 win over Massachusetts were freshmen. Of course, the game marked the first time that Quinn had seen any of the current Terriers play in a game that counts.

So what he did learn from game one of his tenure? He saw some inconsistency but also some resilience, as his team looked a bit tentative in the first period before breaking out with three goals early in the second period.

“I know that we’re going to be able to compete, and we’re going to overcome adversity,” Quinn said. “They were taking it to us pretty good for a stretch, and we kind of fended them. We survived, and sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do in this game.”

We also saw some early glimmers of Quinn’s style. After sophomore Sam Kurker took two offensive-end penalties in the first 22 minutes of the game, Quinn benched him.

“I think he holds us accountable,” right wing Evan Rodrigues said. “We’re a defensive-minded team. He lets us play some offense, but he wants us to play the right way.”

Co-captain Garrett Noonan reiterated the point. “I don’t think he wants to take any creativity away from our skilled forwards and skilled defensemen, but he demands that you play the right way,” he said. “If you don’t, you’re not going to play.”

Quinn said he was pleased with the freshmen.

“I thought their effort was there on every shift,” he said. “We’re going to make mistakes; I understand that. But they can’t be because you’re lazy or casual.”

Altogether, the Terriers are young but hoping to learn without taking too many lumps in the loss column. “As we’re finding our ways and creating our own identity, it’s nice to win hockey games, and that’s what we did tonight,” Quinn said.

“I can’t wait to play tomorrow night and get back to practice Monday because we’re going to be a completely different team in two months.”

Hockey East picks: Oct. 11-12

Welcome back to another season of great hockey.

Other than Boston College, which snuck in a Thursday night game , everyone is 0-0-0.  Even Jimmy. For at least this week, he’s dead even with me. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Dave’s record-to-date: 0-0-0
Jim’s record-to-date: 0-0-0

Here are this week’s picks:

Friday, Oct. 11

Massachusetts at Boston University
Dave’s pick: For at least one game, David Quinn tops Jack Parker’s career winning percentage.
BU 4, UMass 2
Jim’s pick: I always feel like UMass is one of those teams that can surprise early on. But I can’t pick against BU at home in this one.
BU 3, UMass 2

Clarkson vs. New Hampshire (Icebreaker)
Dave’s pick: UNH gets off on the right foot to set up a likely title game with host Minnesota.
UNH 4, Clarkson 2
Jim’s pick: Clarkson is a team that Hockey East fans will become familiar with as the Golden Knights will play seven non-league games against Hockey East teams.
UNH 5, Clarkson 2

Alabama Huntsville at Northeastern
Dave’s pick: I expect a tough season for the Huskies, but not so tough that at home they can’t easily handle a team that went 3-21-1 last year.
NU 5, UAH 1
Jim’s pick: I agree NU will win, but I don’t think it will be such a blow away.
NU 3, UAH 1

Minnesota State at Providence
Dave’s pick: Can the Friars take the next step up this season? This will be a tough, early test, fortunately one taken at home.
PC 3, MSU 2
Jim’s pick: Minnesota State was a major part of the undoing for the Friars bid for the NCAA tournament a season ago.
PC 4, MSU 2

Maine at St. Lawrence
Dave’s pick: I’d feel better about Maine’s chances in this one if it were at the Alfond.
SLU 3, Maine 2
Jim’s pick: I can flip a coin here as not sure what to expect from either of these teams.
SLU 4, Maine 2

Sacred Heart at Massachusetts-Lowell
Dave’s pick: This one should be like taking candy from babies. A Frozen Four team last year vs. one that went 2-30-4. If the River Hawks lose this one, Lowell should fire Norm Bazin.  (Folks, that’s a joke. Okay, okay. My humor isn’t yet in mid-season form.)
UML 6, SH 1
Jim’s pick: Sacred Heart did struggle a year ago but were a strong team the last month of the season. Even if that carries over, I think Lowell should win this one.
UML 4, SH 2

Western Michigan at Notre Dame
Dave’s pick: The two old CCHA rivals meet again with home ice proving decisive.
ND 3, WMU 2
Jim’s pick: Should be a good contest between these two teams that have been strong in the CCHA in recent years.
ND 2, WMU 1

Vermont at North Dakota
Dave’s pick: Much as I like to pick against the Sioux and rile up the easily-riled-up lunatic fringe component of their fan base (most of whom are great fans), I prefer to win the picks race.
UND 4, UVM 1
Jim’s pick: Vermont has a lot of prove this year but I don’t know that Grand Forks is the best place to prove it.
UND 4, UVM 2

Merrimack at Denver
Dave’s pick: I’m optimistic about the Warriors’ chances and they should get off to a strong start with all their returning players. But taking on Denver in Denver is a daunting task.
DU 3, MC 2
Jim’s pick: I feel like Merrimack can win one of these games. The questions is which one. I’ll go against Dave here and pick the Warriors in the series opener.
MC 4, DU 3

Saturday, Oct. 12

Mercyhurst/Minnesota vs New Hampshire (Icebreaker)
Dave’s pick: I like the Wildcats over Mercyhurst, but not over last year’s WCHA regular season champion on its own ice.
UNH 3, MU 2; UM 4, UNH 2
Jim’s pick: Agree with Dave. If Minnesota makes the final, they win.
UNH 5, MU 2; UM 3, UNH 1

Holy Cross at Boston University
Dave’s pick: The biggest tests for David Quinn and the Terriers lie further ahead.
BU 4, HC 2
Jim’s pick: Holy Cross always plays well in non-league games and will be a decent test for BU. I still think the Terriers prevail.
BU 3, HC 2

Alabama Huntsville at Northeastern
Dave’s pick: The Huskies polish off an easy sweep.
NU 5, UAH  2
Jim’s pick: Again, don’t think it will be easy but do believe this weekend will be a sweep.
NU 4, UAH 3

Minnesota State at Providence
Dave’s pick: The Friars might use home ice to pull off the sweep, but historically Minnesota State plays well on the road.  I’m going with a split, and praying I don’t pick it the wrong way.
MSU 2, PC 1
Jim’s pick: Unlike Dave, I think Providence will be focused and earn the sweep.
PC 4, MSU 2

Maine at St. Lawrence
Dave’s pick: Here’s a two-game series that would be a split on neutral ice, but I’m going with the Saints sweeping at home. A rocky start for new Maine coach Red Gendron.
SLU 3, Maine 2
Jim’s pick: I want to pick a split here but worry that the Saints are too good at home.
SLU 3, Maine 2

Massachusetts at Massachusetts-Lowell
Dave’s pick: A tough opening weekend for the Minutemen.
UML 4, UMass 2
Jim’s pick: Lowell takes the first game of the Alumni Cup series this year.
UML 5, UMass 2

Notre Dame at Western Michigan
Dave’s pick: The Broncos salvage a split back at home.
WMU 3, ND 2
Jim’s pick: I think this is actually a series Notre Dame will sweep.
ND 4, WMU 2

Vermont at North Dakota
Dave’s pick: The Catamounts will return home licking their wounds.
ND 4, UVM 1
Jim’s pick: This will be another close game but I like NoDak to sweep.
ND 3, UVM 2

Merrimack at Denver
Dave’s pick: I’d like to predict that the Warriors will eek out at least a point, but Denver’s too tough at home .
DU 4, MC 3
Jim’s pick: Denver bounces back to earn a split.
DU 3, MC 2

Sunday, Oct. 13

Rensselaer at Boston College
Dave’s pick: The Eagles may have lost to Michigan on Thursday, but they’re not going to open 0-2.
BC 4, RPI 2
Jim’s pick: RPI is a good team but this is an important game that the Eagles won’t take lightly.
BC 5, RPI 2

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