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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

 

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.

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