Hockey East picks: Jan. 24-26

Jim and I disagreed on three games last week and… I won them all. That puts me up eight games.

Am I dumb enough to blow an eight-game lead? Don’t underestimate me.

Jim last week: 4-5-0
Dave last week: 7-2-0
Jim to date: 93-59-20
Dave to date: 101-51-20

Friday-Saturday, January 24-25

Maine at Boston College
Boston College feels like the team to beat in Hockey East. The Eagles have won 13 of their last 14, and are now within a point of Massachusetts and first place with two games in hand. Maine might have a shot if these two games were at Alfond Arena where the Black Bears are 7-0-2. But they aren’t, and the Black Bears lose much of their growl on the road (3-9-2).

Dave: BC 5, Maine 2; BC 4, Maine 2
Jim: BC 4, Maine 2; BC 5, Maine 3

UMass Lowell vs. Boston University
Boston University has been consistently inconsistent this year, putting together back-to-back wins only once. The River Hawks haven’t exactly been models of consistency themselves, but are the clearly better defensive club with Tyler Wall the huge difference maker in the nets. Even so, it might be tempting to go with a split with the home team winning each night, but Lowell’s 7-2-1 road record inspires belief in a sweep.

Dave: UML 3, BU 2; UML 3, BU 2
Jim: UML 4, BU 3; UML 4, BU 3

New Hampshire vs. UMass
UMass has it all except for a power play, but that might be coming around, too. If the Minutemen can add a bit more depth to their scoring up front as well, they’ll be really scary. New Hampshire, for its part, has win four of its last five, including victories over Providence and Northeastern. UNH’s 8-2-0 record at home make a split a strong possibility. Only respect for UMass’s success this year forces picks of a sweep.

Dave: UMass 4, UNH 1; UMass 3, UNH 2 (OT)
Jim: UMass 4, UNH 2; UMass 3, UNH 2

Vermont at Merrimack
This matchup pits the bottom two teams in the standings against each other. Vermont can’t score a goal to save its life. Merrimack also struggles on the offensive end, but has an even more glaring weakness in the defensive end. The knee-jerk pick would be to go against the Catamounts, who are still winless in Hockey East, plus the games are in Merrimack’s barn. But it’s hard to have faith in a team with a collective .862 save percentage. Both Jim and I pick Vermont to get off the schneid, then sweep.

Dave: UVM 2, MC 1; UVM 2, MC 1
Jim: UVM 3, MC 1; UVM 2, MC 1

Saturday-Sunday, January 25-26
Connecticut Ice tournament
UConn vs Quinnipiac
UConn vs Sacred Heart/Yale
UConn is coming off wins over Providence and Northeastern, so there’s a lot to like there. Unfortunately, Quinnipiac is having a little bit better year, especially in the defensive end. UConn goaltender Tomáš Vomáčka’s save percentage of only .893 is a concern. In the second game, Sacred Heart leads Atlantic Hockey, and as noted in this week’s column, those nonconference contests have been going increasingly Atlantic Hockey’s way.

Dave: Quinnipiac 4, UConn 2; SHU  3, UConn 2 or UConn 4, Yale 3
Jim: Quinnipiac 4, UConn 2; UConn 3, SHU 2 or UConn 4, Yale 2