ECAC East/NESCAC Game Predictions – December 10-12

Alright, I think I am feeling like a lot of teams out there that just haven’t felt the magic in the first half of the season but know it’s in there just ready to break out. If anything, this final weekend headed into the semester break is going to have a lot of teams talking about a couple of things – consistency and intensity.

You really need to bring both every time out and while the games have been both very exciting and generally close contests, you can’t help but wonder that coaches aren’t saying “If we had only…”

The good news is there is some time off before the stretch run after the New Year. The bad news is it’s just aboout 15 to 16 games that are going to decide what happens with playoff position or runs into the post-season.

For some, this weekend is about pride and bragging rights (yes, that’s you at Colby and Bowdoin) and for others it’s the travel partner game that means more than two points typically when it comes down to tiebreakers at the end of the season.

So here are my picks in trying to get above the “Cherry Line” or hockey’s equivalent of the Mendoza Line.

Last Week: 10-11-2
Season Record: 28-30-6

Winners in bold.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Colby @ Bowdoin – The first night of this home and home series always carries the two points in league play so it just adds more fuel to the fire for the rivalry that has alums from both schools back for the excitement.  Both teams are playing well and this one may come down to the goaltenders and home ice at The Sid.  Cody McKinney has been great for Colby, but the Polar Bears have too much up front. Bowdoin 4, Colby 2

Skidmore @ Castleton – This is a travel partner game between teams with very different styles of play.  The Thoroughbreds are looking for an uptempo game while the Spartans look to leverage a physical matchup on their smaller home rink.  Castleton got off to a great start, only to stumble a bit last weekend.  If they are not looking past Skidmore to Norwich on Saturday, look for them to get back on track at home in a close contest. Castleton 4, Skidmore 3

Hamilton @ WNEC – Making the trip from upstate New York for this nonconference affair will be unfulfilled without driving back from a win.  That said, the Continentals should not take the WNEC squad lightly, as they have played very well early in the season and definitely surprised some teams that underestimated their talent.  Not likely that Coach Bazin’s squad falls into that trap, but the game will be an offensive showcase. Hamilton 5, WNEC 4

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Salve Regina @ Amherst – Another matchup between the ECAC Northeast and NESCAC conferences where the NESCAC has dominated the early season games.  Amherst is one of the teams looking for some consistency and striving to finish the first half on a positive note and above .500 with their overall record.  Finals are coming, but this game may be just what the Lord Jeffs need to get a little nervous energy out of their system before the break. Amherst 5, Salve Regina 1

UNE @ USM– The other battle in Maine this weekend has the ECAC East travel partners squaring off for two points.  A win for the Huskies gets them back to .500 for the first half, while a win by the Nor’easters gets them their first points in conference play this season.  This is a budding rivalry between Coaches Holt and Beaney, but the home ice and experience for Southern Maine are still too much for UNE. USM 6, UNE 2

Bowdoin @ Colby – The second of the home-and-home series is strictly for bragging rights between the two schools.  It doesn’t matter that there are no conference points up for grabs, as over the past few years, the second game of the weekend series has provided more drama and excitement than the opener.  It’s a big dichotomy of styles on the ice and in the respective buildings for the two schools.  Colby is very much at home at Alfond Rink and it shows. Colby 3, Bowdoin 2

Castleton @ Norwich – Just another two-game weekend for the Spartans and while the Friday night game meant conference points, this nonleague matchup with the Cadets is about Vermont bragging rights and benchmarking where this team is against one of the nation’s best teams.  Norwich is coming off a big 8-1 win where Pierre Olivier-Cotnoir (4 goals, 1 assist) and Scott Schroeder (1 goal, 5 assists) dominated the Purple Knights with an offensive barrage.  Coach McShane will have the troops ready to play and show the Spartans how far they need to come to compete for the top spot in the league. Norwich 5, Castleton 2

Tufts @ Conn College – This NESCAC travel partner game is an important one for the points and keeping momentum.  Tufts has come out of the gates strong behind the offense of Tom Derosa and solid goaltending of Scott Barchard and Evin Koleini.  A win for the Jumbos would make them 5-2-1 overall and 4-1-0 in the conference, keeping them among the leaders.  Conn College would get back to .500 overall and move to 3-2-0 in the conference.  The Camels have home ice, but also have trouble scoring goals.  Sean Curran and Jordan Gray have eight of the team’s fourteen total tallies so other players are going to need to chip in against Tufts. Tufts 4, Conn College 3

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nichols @ Williams – The final game before the break for both teams showcases some serious offensive firepower.  The Bison have laid a 10-spot on two opponents already this season and already have six players in double digit points and Zach Kohn and Robbie Sorrenti with more than 10 assists apiece.  Nichols has a ridiculous 36 percent success rate on the power play but now run into one of the nation’s stingiest defenses.  Williams has been solid in all aspects of the game and like their opponent are deep and productive across all of their lines.  While Nichols may have the special teams advantage, Williams has home ice and the goaltending advantage.  It’s a track meet, but Williams keeps a clean slate for the first half. Williams 4, Nichols 2

While many of my esteemed columnists will be signing off for the Holiday break this week, I will have a few more postings, including a mid-season review of the conferences coming up next week. Get your lists of what your team needs to find under the tree to make 2011 a great season and send that list to Santa, or at least the fat guy without the beard writing about your teams’ conference – There are no runaway teams this year and as a result nobody is out of anything in the hunt for conference glory.  So be good, stay out of the penalty box and just maybe, Santa and his elves will leave that extra special penalty kill or game saving save in your stocking this year.

Enjoy the holiday season and Santa, make sure the refs get the pucks to drop!

74 COMMENTS

  1. Can we rip on UNH for being 5th in their conference and 6th in the pairwise? Wouldn’t hear the end of it if it was the Gophers in that position.

    • UNH has the most wins against TUC in Hockey East. They had nine losses and seven were against TUC.

      Of their nine losses and seven ties, eight and six respectively came in league play. After twenty-seven league games, Hockey had the top six teams separated by five points and the top five teams separated by two points.

      The third, fourth and fifth place teams all have 32 points and various tiebreakers were required. UNH and Providence are better off playing each other in terms of TUC than playing Merrimack.

      • No question, a BU sweep of Merrimack could actually hurt BU in the NCAA / Pairwise, exposing one of the flaws of the system. It wouldn’t be the first time. In 2005, when Wisconsin defeated Alaska-Anchorage in Game 3 of their WCHA playoff series, it bumped UAA off the TUC Cliff, and Wisconsin suddenly got drastically worse in the Pairwise. From an NCAA standpoint, Wisconsin would have been better off losing the third game of the
        series. With a 3-0 record against Merrimack, knocking MU off the cliff could be devastating to BU’s PWR.

      • I guess when you look at it that way, UNH seems not as bad, but it was no fun watching them the past 2 months. I am glad they drew Providence for PWR reasons and unfortunately it will hurt BU to beat MC. Hope for a 3 game series win and maybe MC will stay just inside that TUC line.

    • technically I’d refer to that as “tied for third in their conference”, as the tiebreakers are only used for seeding purposes.

      (for example, it possible going into last night that there could have been a four-way tie atop the Hockey East standings, and if that happened there would have indeed been four co-champs.)

      • Agreed, but it doesn’t change that they are struggling and have been the entire 2nd half. I am really amazed after watching them all year, that they have under 10 losses.

    • There is no element of the Pairwise that takes league record into account. RPI is comprised of all games played. Looking at the current PWR they are behind BC and Lowell which is perfectly reasonable considering their overall winning percentage is behind those teams. BU is the outlier – tied for third in the HE standings but with a considerably worse overall record due to OOC games.

      edit: And as I recall there were several WCHA fans a few years back that were mocking Yale for their position in the PWR when they finished second in the ECAC. So if anyone did mock Minnesota, you guys would deserve it if only for payback.

      • I just remember at the halfway point when the Gophers were a top 5 teams yet 6th in the WCHA (only because they had played 2 less games than most of the teams above them) fans of other teams wouldn’t give it a rest.

        • I said when Yale finished second and I was referring to 2010-2011 when they finished second to Union by one point. Any reference to Minnesota was a hypothetical as suggested by Rtn2GoldCountry

      • The people mocking Yale were probably doing it because of a perceived weak schedule and not the specific order of finish in the ECACHL. Of course, I imagine most western fans would think the whole ECACHL is terrible and that any of those teams being anywhere in the top sixteen is the result of some sort of pairwise affirmative action program that has so far been undisclosed by the selection committee.

        • Yes, there was the element of ECAC bashing but there were definitely a few people screaming about Yale being a 1 seed when they didn’t win the ECAC regular season. This was the 2010-2011 season. Yale finished in second place to Union by one point, won the league tournament, and had a better overall record hence the higher NCAA seed. Some people just didn’t understand the PWR.

  2. CC will play at Denver next weekend and be out again. Wisconsin is peaking and can do damage in the WCHA playoffs and get back in.

    • Not so fast. As a Pios fan, I want none of CC. Just a few weeks ago it was a tie and then a CC win. Rather play Duluth or especially UNO

  3. Denver win today means that CC will play at Denver next weekend and be out again. Sconnie is playing good and peaking for the tournament.

  4. Usually I think Jayson does a very good job with this, but I’m a bit confused by this bracket. The three big principles of creating the bracket are attendance, bracket integrity, and protecting the overall #1, right? So, how does putting the overall #5 seed in QU’s bracket protect them? He protected them by not switching ND with BU, but then puts BC in the regional for attendance? Why not just switch Yale with Minn St. Yale (#11) would play Denver (#8) in Prov, BC (#5) opens with SCSU (#12) in Toledo, and UNH (#6) takes on Minn St (#9) in Manchester. Takes care of attendance and bracket integrity is better. Seems like the move was made to avoid placing BC out west??

    For what it’s worth (admittedly, not much), my brackets would have been:

    QU-ND
    Denver-Yale

    Minn-BU
    UND-WMU

    Miami-Niagara
    BC-SCSU

    Lowell-RPI
    UNH-Minn St

  5. Why does Quinnipiac (#1) get BC (#5) in the second round? Each of the other three #1 seeds is getting a second round opponent weaker than bracket integrity suggests they should. Why not send Yale and North Dakota to Providence and send BC and St. Cloud to Toledo? Is it just because of attendance?

    • The first assumption is that Lowell is the fourth overall seed and should be seeded as close to home as possible. It is a 40 minute drive from Tsongas to Verizon Wireless in Manchester.

      The second assumption is that UNH plays in Manchester. No more Hockey East teams will be placed there unless HE has five or more teams in the tournament.

      The third assumption is that BC will be a tremendous draw in Providence. BC is the seventh overall seed, which protects the overall number one seed, Quinnipiac.

      The fourth assumption is that BU does not go to Manchester because of Lowell/UNH and does not go to Providence to protect Quinnipiac. Providence already has good attendance with BC and Qunnipiac.

    • Nobody wants to hear the Sioux FANS CRY because they have to travel East (remember UNH in Manchester what a choke the Sioux put on with 1 second . ). Quinnipiac will be one and done so BC will take on Notre Dame for a spot in the Frozen Four.

    • BC fan and want them to stay east, but I have to agree with you. I’ve been harping on this for years- If you are a top 2 team in your side of the country, you should not have to move. If not top 2, all bets are off. This leads back to host schools. MAKE CONFERENCES THE HOSTS. BC got hosed going west couple years ago. This year, no complaints if they go west, unless they get to top 2 east. I don’t care about attendance. Bracket integrity should be ONLY consideration. 1-16, 2-15, etc. I’m sure the NCAA doesn’t agree. I hope most of you on this thread DO agree…….

  6. Sorry if this has been asked before or if it’s a stupid question (yes, I think there is such a thing) but I can’t work out how the common opponent factor in PWR is figured. Specifically the comparison between Alaska and WI. cOp record is 5-5-1 for Alaska and 5-4-1 for WI. By winning percentage that is a slim advantage for WI, .550 to .500. But the comparison shows 2.625 for Alaska and 1.750 for WI. Where do these numbers come from???

    • Never mind. Just found the PWR explanation FAQ and see how that number is computed… Why is this considered better than just winning percentage?

        • Yes, the TUC component is stupid. How could a loss to the number 1 team hurt more than a loss to a sub-500 team that is not a TUC? I can’t believe the coaches ever agreed to allow that…

  7. This is the time of year we get to hear the Gopher fans whine about avoiding North Dakota in the regionals and why the Hockey East has it easy and that is why they have won 4 of the last 5 NCAA Titles.

    • And this is the time of year we get to hear the sanctimonious easterners tell Gopher fans all their team has to do is win just like everybody else.

      Except that everybody else isn’t earning a #1 seed only to see their #2 seed arch rival in the same regional more often than not.

  8. Jim, I’ll go against the Eagles once, to lose or tie. In 2012 they won 18-19 straight on to win the NCAAs… Can’t see BC (or anyone else) winning 25 straight to finish out 2014. Vermont is also red-hot and badly needs at least one win, plus they’re at home.

  9. Jim, I’ll go against the Eagles once, to lose or tie. In 2012 they won 18-19 straight on to win the NCAAs… Can’t see BC (or anyone else) winning 25 straight to finish out 2014. Vermont is also red-hot and badly needs at least one win, plus they’re at home.

  10. As far as tournament ranking..BC is ranked higher than Lowell and should stay at home, but they could have put Lowell in the eastern
    regional in Conn…Now one of them is going to get knocked off… Many a year U went to a Frozen Four with all Western Teams. I guess we can’t do it the other way around.

  11. I don’t know about the winner of this bracket, being a prohibited favorite, Union looks awful tough as do the Gophers

  12. The brackets worked out well. I hope to be watching a BC v Lowell final in Worcester now that Lowell is fairly healthy. I think the rest may actually help BC, they seemed to be getting tired (1-3-1 in the last month).

  13. “You have to believe whatever team comes out of the Northeast Region will be the favorite to win the national title.”

    Spoken like the true HE bigot that you are. Lets see how many HE teams are still standing after Friday. Want to wager ?

  14. “All of the remaining teams with at-large hopes made the field: Boston College, Lowell, Notre Dame, Vermont and Providence.” Uhhhhmmm… Lowell was not an at-large bid.

      • Ah, good ol’ internet hostility. Not sure what the poll has to do with anything, but, yes, that’s what I’m saying. If I’m an idiot, then please enlighten us: who do YOU think got the Hockey East automatic bid?

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