Hockey East picks – Jan. 17-18

 (Tim Brule)

Once again, I beg our readers forgiveness for the tardiness of last week’s picks. It certainly didn’t help me in any way waiting until the last minute as I was equally as mediocre as Dave.

I realize that I did not include results from the week before, where Dave picked up two games on me and now threatens to make this a runaway by Valentine’s Day. That said, the season-to-date records below include the missing week in the total, which after last week gives the old man a nearly-insurmountable five-game lead.

Jim last week: 3-5-1
Jim to date: 89-54-20
Dave last week: 3-5-1
Dave to date: 94-49-20

Friday, January 17

Boston University at Merrimack
To date, this has hardly been the season that many at Boston University hoped for. They are currently in a tie for sixth place with Connecticut (but with games in hand). And if there is hope that the Terriers will climb into a home ice spot, they need to begin winning games against the teams below them in the standings. Case in point, Merrimack. The Warriors may enter confident after beating Merrimack, 6-2, but also have just three wins in their last 13 games.

Jim’s pick: BU 5, MC 2
Dave’s pick: BU 4, MC 2

Boston College at UMass Lowell
This game will match arguably two of the best goaltenders in Hockey East – Tyler Wall at Lowell and Spencer Knight at Boston College. The pace of the game will dictate a lot. If it is up tempo and more of a track meet, favor Boston College. If it is a game where one team will grind it out and scoring chances will be limited, you might tip your cap to the River Hawks. Regardless, this will be the marquis game of the weekend in Hockey East.

Jim’s pick: UML 3, BC 2
Dave’s pick: BC 3, UML 2

Friday and Saturday, January 17-18

Providence vs. New Hampshire (at PC Fri.; at UNH Sat.)
This series should be interesting as both teams enter playing well. If there is a point of irony here, it is that Providence is a better road team than home and for UNH, vice versa. The Wildcats will seek just their third road win of the season at Providence, where the Friars have lost four times this season. Providence is 5-1-2 away from Schneider Arena but face UNH in Durham on Saturday, where UNH has restored its dominance of old posting an 8-1-0 mark to date.

Jim’s picks: PC 4, UNH 3; UNH 4, PC 3 (OT)
Dave’s picks: PC 4, UNH 2; PC 3, UNH 2 (OT)

Massachusetts at Vermont
This is one of those matchups on paper that features two teams that couldn’t be further apart. UMass is looking at the weekend as the opportunity to possibly jump into first place in Hockey East, while Vermont is hoping to slay the giant to pick up its first league victory. We all know, though, that if there is one factor that could sway this outcome, it’s Catamount goaltender Stefanos Lekkas. The man who can steal games has done it twice already since Christmas. Though neither time was he facing an offense as potent as the Minutemen.

Jim’s picks: UMass 3, UVM 1; UMass 2, UVM 1
Dave’s picks: UMass 5, UVM 2; UMass 4, UVM 2

Saturday, January 18

Connecticut at Northeastern
Northeastern should be a little hungry having lost last Saturday at New Hampshire in overtime. But they will face a UConn team that is coming off a come-from-behind midweek victory over Maine. That win snapped a four-game losing skid for the Huskies, which in that span included a 5-2 loss to Northeastern on Jan. 3. That alone makes Northeastern a strong favorite at home, where the Huskies are a solid 7-1-1 this season.

Jim’s pick: NU 4, UConn 1
Dave’s pick: NU 4, UConn 3

Merrimack at UMass Lowell
The battle of the Merrimack River once was the ultimate rivalry between these two schools. Though the intense competition of this matchup may have disappeared in recent years, the desire for both clubs to win hasn’t. These two clubs met 14 days prior with the River Hawks prevailing, 3-1. But it was a close game much of the way in North Andover.

Jim’s pick: UML 3, MC 2
Dave’s pick: UML 4, MC 2

Boston University at Boston College
Another rivalry game – possibly the greatest rivalry in college hockey – closes out this week’s games on the Hockey East docket as BC and BU renew the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue. Former BU coach Jack Parker once said, and I paraphrase, that these teams could play on a Wednesday at Lars Anderson’s Rink in Brookline without a fan in the stands and the intensity would be the same. For either team, a win is big but if you’re BU, might this be the jumpstart your team needs?

Jim’s pick: BU 4, BC 3
Dave’s pick: BC 4, BU 3