Yes, folks, after a one-season hiatus, Hockey East picks are back. The wonderful battle between Dave and I once again is real. Hopefully, my wonderful colleague will help maintain the great integrity this battle yielded for many seasons.
As the year goes on, though, make sure to check out USCHO’s Pick ‘Em contest. Both Dave and I will make some national picks there as well, and you’re able to compete against us (feel free to trash talk).
Alas, let’s kick of the season.
Saturday, October 5
Maine at Providence
It’s strange for the Hockey East league schedule to kick off so early and likely is the result of a schedule quirk somewhere down the line. But when you look at Providence hosting Maine, you find two teams looking for a solid start for different reasons. Maine is trying to climb its way back into the relevant top of the league after a bunch of lower-half finishes. Jeremy Swayman in net should help that cause. Providence is trying to back up a Frozen Four bid with another solid season, but lost so much.
Dave picks: Providence 3, Maine 2
Jim Pick: Providence 3, Maine 1
Boston University at Union
Sure BU lost five top-tier players to the pro ranks. But then you look at this rookie class and see five more blue-chip recruits from the U.S. National team development program. There is very little experience in goal for BU, but the Terriers are also facing a Union program with a lot of unknowns.
Dave picks: BU 4, Union 3
Jim Pick: BU 4, Union 1
Connecticut at Sacred Heart
UConn hopes to improve on its middle-of-the-league performance yet again in Hockey East, but will face a Sacred Heart team that has been dangerous to the health of Hockey East opening nights in the past (anyone remember when the Pioneers upset then-No. 1 Lowell in October of 2014?). This might be one of Sacred Heart’s top teams entering the season, which doesn’t help the cause.
Dave picks: UConn 4, SHU 3
Jim picks: SHU 4, UConn 2
Friday/Saturday October 5-6
Alabama Huntsville at UMass Lowell
After five appearances in the Hockey East title game, UMass Lowell has failed to reach the league final four for back-to-back years. This year’s squad is certainly improved, but looking at underclassmen is still young. A non-league series against Alabama Huntsville, a team that has struggled in recent years, should look easy. But we’ve learned, there are no easy games in college hockey.
Dave picks: Lowell 4, UAH 2; Lowell 3, UAH 2 (OT)
Jim picks: Lowell 4, UAH 2; Lowell 3, UAH 1
Merrimack at Lake Superior
There are a lot of question marks surrounding Merrimack as they enter this season. 18 new faces in total, 16 of them are freshmen. Plus a lack of quality experience at the goaltender position. Going on the road to face a Lake Superior team that wasn’t picked to finish high in the WCHA but should be better than many expect is a tough opening weekend formula.
Dave picks: Lake Superior 5, Merrimack 2; Lake Superior 4, Merrimack 2
Jim Picks: Lake Superior 4, Merrimack 1; Merrimack 3, Lake Superior 2