In this space last week, I knocked on wood saying that barring COVID setbacks, last week would produce the busiest week for Hockey East since the restart. All of those games went off without a hitch.
But that seems like a distant memory as both UConn and UMass Lowell have COVID tests in recent days and thus have had games postponed this week and into the midweek.
Their opponents – Northeastern and Merrimack – will face one another on Saturday and Sunday. The league also added some midweek games after Lowell’s single game against rival Massachusetts, was canceled.
Picks, for what is now scheduled, is below:
Jim last week: 5-3-1
Jim to date: 18-8-5
Marisa last week: 6-2-1
Marisa to date: 16-10-5
Fri./Sat., Jan. 8-9
Providence vs. Boston University (Fri. at BU; Sat. at PC)
The Terriers finally get their season underway, 49 days after UMass and Connecticut opened the Hockey East season on November 20. So trying to understand how this team will perform against a good Hockey East team in Providence is nothing better than a crap shoot. The Friars will return Patrick Moynihan and Brett Berard to the lineup after winning World Junior gold in Edmonton, but head coach Nate Leaman will remain away from the team in quarantine.
Jim’s picks: PC 3, BU 2; PC 3, BU 1
Marisa’s picks: BU 4, PC 2; PC 2, BU 1
Maine at Vermont
Vermont, under new head coach Todd Woodcroft, has looked strong at times, particularly keeping opponents off the scoreboard. The Cats still struggle to generate offense. Maine is coming off a weekend where the team scored eight goals but lost twice, allowing 14. This could be a weekend determined by which team breaks out – can Vermont start scoring and can Maine keep the puck out of their net.
Jim’s picks: UVM 3, Maine 2; UVM 2, Maine 1
Marisa’s picks: UVM 3, Maine 2; UVM 4, Maine 2
Fri. and Sun., Jan. 8 and 10
Boston College vs. New Hampshire (Fri. at BC; Sun. at UNH)
The Eagles return from a 28-layoff since their last game. Coach Jerry York said earlier in the week he expects all four players – Matt Boldy, Drew Helleson, Spencer Knight and Alex Newhook – who are coming back from World Juniors to be in the lineup. New Hampshire is looking to get its offense going, having scored just three goals total in the last four games.
Jim’s picks: BC 5, UNH 1; BC 2, UNH 1
Marisa’s picks: BC 4, UNH 1; BC 5, UNH 1
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 9-10
Northeastern vs. Merrimack (Sat. at NU; Sun. at MC)
The collateral damage from this weekend’s postponed games will now face one another a day later than each team originally planned to play. Both clubs are looking to find winning form and consistency, but the gritty Merrimack club will try to slow down this NU team that returns goaltender Devon Levi and forward Sam Colangelo from World Juniors.
Jim’s picks: NU 4, MC 2; NU 5, MC 2
Marisa’s picks: NU 4, MC 2; MC 3 NU 2
Wednesday, January 13
Massachusetts at Providence
It will be a three-in-five game series for Providence and they’ll get to face a white-hot UMass club, having won seven straight and eight of nine. These two clubs have played some legendary games in recent years. This should be no different.
Jim’s pick: PC 3, UMass 2
Marisa’s pick: UMass 4, MC 2
New Hampshire at Northeastern
If NU goaltender Devon Levi is ready to play when this weekend starts, he could go from zero collegiate games played to three in a span of five days. Expect this to be a physical game where NU tries to use its skill to pull away from UNH.
Jim’s pick: NU 4, UNH 3
Marisa’s pick: NU 3, UNH 1