Hockey East picks – Dec. 28-Jan. 5

There were very few games in the final week before Christmas, but with both Dave and I struggling, I somehow picked up a single game. Thus we enter the second half totally deadlocked!

Jim last week: 2-3-0
Dave last week: 1-4-0
Jim to date: 77-54-20
Dave to date: 77-54-20

(With the holiday tournament season upon us, we will pick those first, providing results for Hockey East teams against the other three teams in the field)

Florida College Classic, Estero, Fla. (Dec. 28-29)
Jim’s pick: Merrimack limped to the finish line of the first half, which gives me a lot of pause in picking the Warriors no matter who they face. But facing Colorado College in the opening round, another struggling team I feel like they can make the finals to face either Cornell or Northern Michigan.
Semis: MC 4, CC 3; Consol/Final: CU 4, MC 2; NMU 3, MC 2
Dave’s pick: I’ll give Merrimack a pass for getting swept by Lowell going into the break, and will thus go with the Warriors against either of the last-place teams, Colorado College or Northern Michigan, but not against 7-3-1 Cornell.
Semis: MC 3, CC2; Consol/Final: CU 4, MC2; MC 3 NMU 2

Three Rivers Classic, Pittsburgh, Penn. (Dec. 29-30)
Jim’s pick: Boston College faces a tough Quinnipiac team to start this tournament with both teams missing player to World Juniors. If BC can get by the Bobcats, I think they can take down either Robert Morris or Ferris State to take home this title.
Semis: BC 3, QU 2; Consol/Final: BC 5, RMU 2; BC 4, FSU 2
Dave’s pick: I’ll agree that the opening round matchup is the tough one for BC, but at 10-7-2 Quinnipiac isn’t as imposing as usual.
Semis: BC 3, QU 2; Consol/Final: BC 4, RMU 1; BC 4, FSU 2

Mariucci Classic, Minneapolis, Minn. (Dec. 30-31)
Jim’s pick: Massachusetts had some signs of hope and success in the first half and should matchup well with Alabama-Hunstville in the semis. So I’ll look past losses to Arizona State before the break and pick them to reach the final. There, though, a potential date with Minnesota (or Mercyhurst, though not as likely) could be difficult.
Semis: UMass 3, UAH 2; Consol/Final: UM 5, UMass 2; UMass 3, MC 2
Dave’s pick: Since UMass got swept at home by Arizona State, and by identical 4-1 scores, I’ll be picking the Minutemen to lose to all but the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Semis: UAH 3, UMass 2; Consol/Final: UM 4, UMass 1; MC 3 UMass 2

Ledyard Bank Classic, Hanover, N.H. (Dec. 30-31)
Jim’s pick: UMass Lowell is strong enough to beat Colgate in the semis, which would mean a title game matchup against either host Dartmouth or Army. Either of those teams will be difficult second-night opponents, but as the only nationally-ranked team in this field, it should be Lowell’s tournament to lose.
Semis: UML 4, CU 1; Consol/Final: UML 3, DC 2; UML 4, Army 2
Dave’s pick: The River Hawks are the clear class of this tournament even though host Dartmouth is only a game under .500 and Army (9-6-1) could give them a tough time. Only rust should trip them up, however, in the opener against Colgate (4-9-4).
Semis: UML 4, CU 1; Consol/Final: UML 3, DC 2; UML 4, Army 2

Desert Hockey Classic, Prescott Valley, Ariz. (Dec. 30-31)
Jim’s pick: Connecticut has a tough opening-round matchup against nationally-ranked St. Cloud State and will meet the Huskies without sniper Tage Thompson and goalie Adam Huska, both playing at World Juniors. St. Cloud will be without Jack Ahcan and coach Bob Motzko, both members of Team USA at World Juniors. All of which makes this opening round a toss up. Whichever team wins the opener should beat either host Arizona State or Brown on New Year’s Eve.
Semis: SCSU 4, UConn 2; Consol/Final: UConn 4, ASU 1; UConn 3, Brown 2
Dave’s pick: I, too, think that St. Cloud wins the Battle of the Huskies–pity writers having to write that game recap without using the nickname–and would expect both Huskies to win the next day.
Semis: SCSU 3, UConn 2; Consol/Final: UConn 3, ASU 2; UConn 4, Brown 2

Other Non-Conference Games

Friday, December 30

Clarkson at Northeastern
Jim’s pick: I like Clarkson a lot but also think Northeastern is beginning to get its act together (it is the second, half, right?). So I’ll go with the Huskies at home.
NU 4, CU 3
Dave’s pick: The Huskies’ 1-6-2 league mark looks ugly and just because it’s the second half doesn’t mean they suddenly flick a switch and become world beaters. (And the team itself surely better not think that.) Even so, I was almost ready to give them the game anyway based on home ice until I saw Clarkson is 5-1-1 on the road. So I’m going to wait until Northeastern proves it’s once again a second-half monster.
CU 3, NU 2

Denver at Providence
Jim’s pick: This is a tough opponent for the Friars to face to start the second half and I don’t envision any good outcomes.
DU 4, PC 2
Dave’s pick: I thought Providence was one of the most disappointing first-half teams (1-4-2 in Hockey East), so it’s hard to expect better against the number-two team in the country.
DU 4, PC 1

Maine at New Hampshire
Jim’s pick: Though these are two Hockey East teams, this game is non-conference (and is being played on neutral ice, Manchester, N.H.). I liked the way New Hampshire was playing before the break a little more than I did the Black Bears.
UNH 4, UM 2
Dave’s pick: The Wildcats swept the home-and-home series the first weekend in December and looked particularly good to me in their game at the Whitt. So I see more of the same.
UNH 3, UM 1

Bentley at Vermont
Jim’s pick: Atlantic Hockey teams have been the nemesis at times this season for Hockey East, but I’m confident in this Vermont team at home.
UVM 4, BU 2
Dave’s pick: I may never forgive the Vermont emailers who nagged me into picking the Catamounts to beat Union before the break, but I’ll still go with them against a 4-8-4 Bentley team.
UVM 4, BU 1

Saturday, December 31

Alaska at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: The biggest question for the Irish in the first half was what team would show up night tonight. It’s still a question now, but I think they are better than Alaska.
ND 5, Alaska 2
Dave’s pick: Agreed. Curiously, Alaska is 3-2-2 on the road despite being 6-12-2 overall, but that doesn’t confuse the issue over who is the better team.
ND 4, Alaska 1

Denver at Providence
Jim’s pick: The Pioneers will face a tougher game but should be able to sweep Providence.
DU 3, PC 2
Dave’s pick: I’m not sure about the tougher-game part, but I agree on a sweep by a Denver team that will become 14-3-3.
DU 4, PC 2

Bentley at Vermont
Jim’s pick: After three losses to close the first half for Vermont, a two-game sweep is a much-needed turnaround for the Cats.
UVM 5, BU 3
Dave’s pick: Yup. Just what the doctor ordered. If only the “BU” the sweep was over were Hockey East’s BU.
UVM 4, BU 1

Sunday, January 1

Alaska at Notre Dame
Jim’s pick: This two-game holiday matinee series should result in two wins for the Irish.
ND 5, Alaska 3
Dave’s pick: Agreed. The Irish get their fourth straight win.
ND 2, Alaska 2

Tuesday, January 3

UMass Lowell at Rensselaer
Jim’s pick: RPI will have an extra day’s rest only playing a single game against Harvard. But that shouldn’t be a major factor.
UML 4, RPI 2
Dave’s pick: Given that RPI is only 3-16-1, rest shouldn’t come close to being a deciding factor.
UML 4, RPI 1

American International at Massachusetts
Jim’s pick: The neighboring schools should provide a pretty interesting matchup of two first-year head coaches at their respective institutions. And for some reason, I’m going with the upset here.
AIC 3, UMass 2
Dave’s pick: I swore I’d never pick UMass again after it got swept by Arizona State, but with it going against 3-9-6 AIC, I went looking for a loophole. And found it. AIC is coming off a loss to, you guessed it, Arizona State. So this allows me to go with UMass and some home cookin’.
UMass 3, AIC 2 (OT)

St. Lawrence at Vermont
Jim’s pick: Home cooking will be nice for the Catamounts. And even though its three games in five days, Vermont is facing a St. Lawrence team that hasn’t played in 24 days. Advantage Vermont.
UVM 3, SLU 2
Dave’s pick: Jim may be right about SLU having just too much rust, but I’m still reeling from Vermont’s sweep at the hands of Union.
SLU 3, UVM 2 (OT)

Northeastern at Yale
Jim’s pick: Yale wasn’t anything special in the first half and home ice wasn’t much of an advantage. I think I’ll use that trend to impact my pick.
NU 3, Yale 1
Dave’s pick: I waffled big-time on this pick, but I’m going with the Huskies even though I’m not sure a second-half explosion is a sure thing.
NU 3, Yale 2

Thursday, January 5

Union at Boston University
Jim’s pick: Looking at the World Junior schedule, there is a strong possibility that Team USA and Team Canada will still be playing come January 5 (either team would have to lose in the quarterfinals for BU to get players back). Thus a decimated BU lineup will struggle, even at home, against Union and Mick Vecchione.
Union 3, BU 1
Dave’s pick: This would have been an auto-pick for BU if not for the World Juniors, but with six players on Team USA and another on Team Canada, it’s hard to stick with the Terriers.
Union 3, BU 2