ECAC East/NESCAC picks: Feb. 3

February is here, and the leap year that is 2012 isn’t going to help team that can’t get it going in the next three weeks. Last week I finished 3-1-2 for the weekend, which takes my season record overall to 41-16-8 (.692). Still not quite at that 70 percent success rate, and time is running out on me too in reaching my season goal in the prognostication department.
This week, I will add a couple of more games to the usual six-pack and see if that helps me improve the percentage. Not shying away from any of the key matchups, so as the intensity heats up on the ice, so too does the scoreboard watching for players, coaches and correspondents alike.
So here are the picks to start the final month of the regular season.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Southern Maine vs. University of New England
Losing streaks at any point in the season are not a good thing, and this game finds both teams struggling down the stretch and in strong need of some positive momentum to carry through February. This in-state rivalry is growing, and the first game of the home-and-home series is on the Nor’easters home rink, where the crowd will be a factor. The rowdy atmosphere is not quite enough of a factor, as the Huskies get two very valuable points. Southern Maine 5-2
Castleton vs. Massachusetts-Boston
There is a lot to play for both of these teams, who still have a chance to improve their overall position in the standings. The Beacons knocked off the previously-unbeaten Norwich Cadets just a few weeks ago on their home ice and are poised to spring another upset after two tough overtime games last week against Babson. This one goes to overtime too, but with a goal for the home team. Mass.-Boston 4-3
Bowdoin vs. Amherst
Since getting shellacked by the Polar Bears on January 6, Amherst has run the table in the league, going 6-0-0 leading into this weekend. The Polar Bears have a record of 5-0-1 over their last six league contests, so something has to give here. Amherst and Jonathan Larose just don’t surrender seven-spots, so the offensive outburst in Maine hurt more than a usual loss. It’s payback time for the Lord Jeffs, who look to put a stranglehold on the top spot in the conference this weekend with two more wins. Amherst 4-2
Connecticut College vs. Tufts
Both teams had very successful weekends on the road last week and would like to build on that positive momentum. Tufts is clearly fighting for a top four position, and Connecticut College played themselves back into contention for something higher than the eighth and final playoff spot. Both teams have been playing things tight. You can’t get much tighter than Tufts’ last three games, which have all gone to overtime and where the Jumbos are 2-0-1. This one may need the extra five minutes to settle things for the Jumbos again. Tufts 4-3
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Middlebury vs. Wesleyan
Following two-plus decades of futility where no Cardinals team had ever beaten the Panthers, this Wesleyan squad has a two-game win streak and would like to extend it to three on home ice. Middlebury is suffering at both ends of the ice. It has been shutout in three of the last six games, and is still trying to find a replacement in goal for the injured John Yancheck. With all of those issues, it’s still not an easy one in Middletown. Wesleyan 3-2
Norwich vs. New England College
This one has always had the rivalry stamp on it in the ECAC East, and the close confines of the rink in Henniker, N.H., add to the illusion of time and space that the Cadets like to create offensively and take away from you in their defensive end of the ice. Congratulations to coach Mike McShane on recording win 600 in last Friday’s victory over Southern Maine. Certainly an amazing milestone, and this one makes 603. Norwich 5-1
Williams vs. Trinity
The Ephs are just 2-2-1 in their last five games, and may be relying on the excellent goaltending of Ryan Purdy just a bit too much. The offense has not scored a lot of goals, and the power play has only produced eight for the entire season. The irony is that offensively, Trinity has the same challenges and also has produced just eight power-play goals this season to date. Even-strength goals decide this one. Williams 4-2
St. Michael’s vs. St. Anselm
This ECAC East matchup is also the likely NE-10 D-II championship round, and so far this season nothing has been settled between the two teams. The first game ended in a 2-2 tie, but momentum is favoring the Purple Knights, who come in with a two-game winning streak, whereas the Hawks have lost four in a row. While neither team is eligible for the conference playoffs, both want to send a message to the opponent and do everything possible to move up in the standings at the expense of their NE-10 rival.  Don’t see five losses in a row for the Hawks, especially at home. St. Anselm 4-3
Only six games remain in deciding playoff seeding and whether or not you get to sleep in your own bed for at least the first weekend of the conference tournaments. No sleeping this weekend or you’re definitely hitting the road.
Now things are really getting interesting — drop the puck!

192 COMMENTS

  1. Weak excuses Not Famous, weak. FF was played in Minn in 2011;2010 in Detroit; 2008 in Denver etc, Also font understand the 300 fan comment. Must be from someone who never went to a BU game.

  2. People can’t complain where the games are played. They are set in advance and it is what it is. Fans don’t generally don’t show up for games out east. Nice crowd last night as there is in almost all frozen four settings, but during regular season fans out there don’t support their teams inn he same manner that the strong “western” teams fans support them. You have very few locations for the regions that will have fan support for the games. Those locations are colorado, minnesota and North Dakota. FF are different. And yes I have been to games and have a nephew there. Student and fan support is poor

    • “.. but during regular season fans out there don’t support their teams inn he same manner that the strong “western” teams fans support them.”
      ‘Splain that one to me a bit more. You seem to suggest something less than rabid fans here int he East. Will say we don’t have cheerleaders at games. And fans don’t travel the same as Western teams, but what else were you suggesting?

    • “Those locations are colorado, minnesota, and North Dakota” (sic).
      Let me fix that for you: those locations are Grand Forks, ND, Denver and Colorado Springs, CO and Minnesota. Now. Draw a 100-mile radius circle around Denver and Grand Forks. Within those two circles, how many D-1 programs exist within (hint – there are 3)? Now – how many D-1 programs exist within Minnesota? OK. Now, draw that same 100-mile circle around Boston. How many D-1 programs within *that* circle? Note that there are more D-1 programs with Metro Boston alone than there are within the entire states of Colorado and North Dakota. Combined.
      You fail.

  3. Does UND ever lose a game out right? I heard the same whining last year after they lost to Minnesota. BU was the better team last night — I love hearing about BU’s puck luck, but yet no mentioned of NoDak’s second goal. Quite honestly, BU made the game closer than it should have been. People who say Eichel is average or just ok or whatever are morons, the dude is clearly a stride faster and more skilled than anyone the ice, plus he showed up in the big game unlike a certain goalie who was also Hobey candidate.
    On the other hand, can we stop whining about who made the tournament and how Hockey East should have had more teams in the tourney. Yes, they domindated the NCHC (and yes, the Big Ten sucks — I get that), but the computers are the decider, there is no opinion involved. The formula is the formula, there is no western bias. Yes, the East has dominated the tournament past 8 years, but check out the 10 before that. These things are cyclical.
    Oh, and the games are played where they are scheduled to be played — teams play on their home ice (or near it), if they earn it like UND and BU did for the round of 16 and round of 8.
    I’m a Gopher fan, and I can admit that both UND and BU would have beaten the Gophers this year 7 – 8 times out of 10.

    • Great post, man… The way it is! And “BU made the game closer than it should have been” is right on. Sitting back on D in the 3rd doesn’t work for them… Not BU’s style.
      The East-West thing is dead. The traditional powerhouses can’t stockpile all the talent anymore… Top-end talent comes from everywhere and there is more of it. Recruits now go everywhere and will anywhere there is a scholarship available.

    • Still think Eichel showed up in the big game? Invisible in the championship game, lucky to get on the point sheet.

      • I guess if you only look at the stat sheet, that’s all you’d get.
        I wish the Gophers had many more players who “lucky” like Eichel.

  4. My take… This was not a great game, which was disappointing. I’ve seen both teams play better. Each team got bounces. Each team hit posts (mostly side posts), and one terrific shot for a goal. Each had 10-minute stretches where they played better, or played worse. BU found ways to win, simple as that. BUT, anyone thinking Eichel wasn’t the most skilled player on the ice, doesn’t know hockey.
    Providence looked like the best team yesterday.

    • Agree on all points. Friars have played great the last two games. They are big, cycle down low better than anyone now and block a lotta shots. Plus Gillies is best goalie thus far in the playoffs. Ha had 8 minute lapse against Miami in 3rd period, but otherwise … Saturday’s game will be low scoring with lots of back checking by both team. And thinking Eichel wasn’t the best player on the ice last night was watching some other game.

      • Just for record, I said “skilled” not necessarily the “best” hockey player… yet. I think he needs another year at BU. He has to develop some grit to compete nightly at the NHL level, be more physical… It’s there, he just hasn’t pressed it.

        • I agree with your assessment of Eich and hope he takes another year. He does need it cause the NHL will be equally as fast and skilled and will check him whit more success than the teams he has faced this year. You take him off this team and they would have been borderline to make the dance. They would not have gotten out of any regional. Providence would beat BU tonight without Eich. BU Is VERY young including Eich. I hope he stays.

          • Take a look at the early departure list in the bar above on the Standings page… 95% juniors, a handful of sophs. And those are the best players or the more NHL-ready leaving. BUT, he’s had so much hype from the media… The Coyotes? may not want to wait.

          • Agreed. He gets double teamed, but still manages to find the open guy or create space to make a play. His play for the Greer goal was his best play of the night. He never panics, the game is in slow motion for him. The 1st goal was a blind, back to the net no look flip with little effort or hesitation. Makes it look easy, bu in the NHL it won’t be as easy. I hope he stays one more year. If so this team will be a beast with only 2 seniors going and best recruiting class in years coming in.

          • Include UML, BC, and PC in the mix!
            Not many impact seniors on any roster… Nearly all HEA will be a year older and improved.

          • For what it’s worth, I’m not sure that staying at BU is any sort of realistic option, given the money that’s going to be on the table. If he’s not ready for the NHL by fall, he’d be sent to the AHL for seasoning (which, according to some, might almost be as good as playing in the NCHC…). The risk of injury while playing for BU and losing that first contract seems to be just too great. He may be weighing more personal factors, but I can’t know what those are.

          • Hey good call, they beat BU even with Eichel! :)
            You’re right about one thing, we probably won’t be hearing from BU now for a while.

  5. To everyone saying BU got “lucky” and UND “dominated” the game:
    UND carried the play at times, sure, but so did BU. Shots on goal were even in the 1st, +4 for UND in the 2nd, +7 for UND in the 3rd when BU was more concerned with protecting the lead than scoring goals.
    BU had one goal that probably shouldn’t have gone in (Somersby’s), but UND got lucky on Stecher’s too.
    Point being it was a pretty well played game by BOTH teams, and while UND *might* have had better play overall, they certainly didn’t dominate and BU didn’t win because of luck.

  6. I’m enjoying the “puck luck” comments the most.
    1) BU’s goalie handed UND a short handed goal.
    2) Too many men on the ice called late in the third in a one goal game. How many times did UND have seven players on the ice in last year’s Frozen Four against Minnesota? How many times was it called?
    3) A UND shot stuned a BU player that created a converted 5 on 3 power play.
    4) Their first goal was very lucky.
    5) UND fans claim they’re so superior, but have no clue.

  7. At least UND is consistent. Last year’s game winner that ended their season was also the player’s first goal on the season. LOL!!!

  8. I’ve been saying it all season. The NCCH isn’t the best conference. Since Wisconsin and the Gophers left the WCHA, Hockey East is now the country’s best conference.
    It really was the No Challenge Hockey Conference for Hockey East. LOL!!!

  9. I thought Macs is a Hobey candidate. How can that be true? It’s hard to win when he gives up four soft goals. The fifth goal was acceptable.

  10. I’m not taking you back, Chockes.
    You should stay away from Grand Forks. Something smells up here and it’s not me or Grand Fork’s sewage disposal ponds.

  11. **(set to the sound of a scary ghost voice)**
    I’m going to continue to haunt you until the NCAA returns the team’s rightful name. ooooooo ooooo oooooo…….

  12. Did anyone tell Hakstol that BU was #2 in PP! What is wrong with the NCHC/West? A second year coach with underclassmen! Time for a change. What’s the worst that could happen? No Frozen Four and out?

  13. “Holds off” is way too generous. The fresh-soph team with a second year coach dominated the #1 ranked team!

  14. For all the trolls unable to think with even a hint of reason, explain this to me. BU lost to the 22nd, 23rd, 28th, and 32nd ranked teams and Providence lost to the 19th, 23rd, 28th, 30th, 32nd, 37th, 45th, and 47th ranked teams. Using your logic for the UND/BU game then all of those teams must be better than BU and Providence right?? On Thursday night, BU was the winning team but they did get outplayed for a majority of the game. This is in no way indicative of “which conference is better”. I only watched the game once as it happened and haven’t re watched to see if my initial thoughts are the same(some people do work you know) but here’s my take on the game. McIntyre gave up three soft ones. UND didn’t give up. As a matter of fact, they really took it to BU for some significant stretches. Reffing was iffy at best. Both ways but UND did come out on the short end. In the first, Caggiula was steaming through center ice and a BU player tripped him. No call. A few minutes later, UND player taps the toes of Eichel’s right skate. Eichel takes a stride with his left then goes down on his next stride on the right. Is it a penalty? Yes of course it is but it was less of one than the BU player committed.Before anyone says a penalty is a penalty let’s talk about interference. BU over and over again had players moving in front of and slowing down UND players going after the puck on a dump in. That is a penalty and was not called all night long. If BU isn’t allowed to do this, they’re burned by UND’s speed and spend the whole game chasing. Did the better team win? No.

  15. Princeton is not “hosting” Penn State. The teams are facing off in one neutral-site game in Philly, at the NHL arena of the Philadelphia Flyers.

  16. Princeton is not “hosting” Penn State. The teams are facing off in one neutral-site game in Philly, at the NHL arena of the Philadelphia Flyers.

  17. It is really something that UC with the fewest penalty-minutes per game in the league, should have the most short-handed goals in the league by a wide margin.

  18. It is really something that UC with the fewest penalty-minutes per game in the league, should have the most short-handed goals in the league by a wide margin.

  19. Kind of misleading to talk about standings now when some teams have played as many as 11 league games at this point (QU) while others have played as few as 6 (Harvard and Dartmouth)

  20. Kind of misleading to talk about standings now when some teams have played as many as 11 league games at this point (QU) while others have played as few as 6 (Harvard and Dartmouth)

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