The second half begins tomorrow for Hockey East with some big non-conference games for some and tournaments for others. Many of these games will have big Pairwise implications down the road, so Hockey East will need some wins if they want to get 3-4 teams into the NCAA’s.
Boston College: The Eagles head out to Detroit for the Great Lakes Invitational. They open up Thursday against Michigan. The Wolverines are somehow ranked #20 despite being just 9-8-1. The Eagles will then play either Michigan Tech or Michigan State in their final game. All 4 teams in this tournament are TUC’s as of right now. So this might be one of the bigger chances for Hockey East to gain, but it wont be easy. The last time the non-Michigan Invitee won the tournament was when Colorado College did in 2005. The last time BC played in this tournament, they won it back in 2003. BC will be missing Bill Arnold, who is at the WJC’s, but Patrick Wey could be making his return from a foot injury that has kept him out since October.
Boston University: BU has gone over a week without losing a player, so they are feeling good. No Holiday Tournament for them this year, but they do have a marquee game. The Terriers head to South Bend for a nationally televised game on New Year’s Eve against Notre Dame. Its battle of 4th vs 5th in the Pairwise and all eyes will be on BU to see how they respond after a tumultuous break. In addition to the two departures, they will also be without Adam Clendening, who is at WJC’s.
Maine and UMass Amherst: Hockey East sends two teams down to Florida this year for the Florida College Hockey Classic. The tournament, which is hosted annually by Maine and Cornell, has been around since 2000. Maine has won it 4 times in 11 chances, with the last victory coming in 2009. This year they open up with an ECAC opponent, Clarkson. UMass returns to this tournament for the second time. In 2002, they lost in the final to Maine. They open with a big matchup against Cornell. UMass has already taken down a big ECAC team in Yale this season, a win over Cornell would be huge for the Minutemen and Hockey East.
Lowell: Lowell is easily in the worst Holiday Tournament of all time. Lowell opens up the tournament with Rensselaer (ranked 54 out 58 in RPI). Their second game will be against either Army (55) or UConn (52). Lowell will be hoping to avenge an early season loss to UConn which left everyone confused. If Lowell does not win this tournament, that is very very bad for them.
Merrimack: Not to be outdone, Merrimack found their own awful Holiday Tournament. The Warriors head up to New Hampshire for the Ledyard National Bank Classic. The Classic has had some memorable moments in the last 3 years. Who could forget BC taking down Mercyhurst for the title in 2010, Northeastern overcoming Lowell in 2009, or Dartmouth pulling it out over Bemijdi State in 2008. This year should be no different. Merrimack opens up with St. Lawrence. Then they will either get the host, Dartmouth, or Holy Cross. You don’t want to miss this one.
New Hampshire and Providence: These two join BU in skipping the Holiday Tournament scene this winter. They both have just one game against Brown before they get back into their Hockey East schedule. For PC, its the battle for the Mayor’s Cup. PC had won three straight before the teams tied last season.
Northeastern: The Huskies, like seemingly every Hockey East team, open up their tournament with a rather weak ECAC team. For NU, that team will be Princeton in the Mariucci Classic. Should the Huskies take care of business they will meet Minnesota in the finals (or possibly Niagara). Minnesota is ranked 2nd in the country but their two best players are away with the WJC team, so it is not a given they win the tournament, despite having home ice advantage.
Vermont: The Catamounts stay home and host some western opponents in the Catamount Cup. Vermont, who is facing a bit of an injury crisis, has games against Lake Superior State and Ferris State. Both teams are in the Top 15 of the RPI. Vermont is 50th in the RPI and an addition to the injury problems, they are missing Conor Brickley who is with the WJC team.