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Updated: Hockey East Offseason Movement

May 17, 2012

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Here is a list of early departures, graduating seniors and other rumors from around Hockey East.  We will continue to update this throughout the summer.   Updated 5/29

Notes: Class year listed is what they would have been next season.  Recruits are from the Chris Heisenberg list/recruiting lists from BC Hockey Blog, Boston Hockey Blog, Fear The Triangle, The Mack Report, and The UNH Men’s Hockey Blog

Northeastern Huskies

Leaving (5 F, 3 D): Rob Dongara (F, JR, Transferring),  Mike McLaughlin (F, Graduated), Justin Daniels (F, SR), Steve Quailer (F, SR), Alex Tuckerman (F, SR), Anthony Bitetto (D, JR, signed with Nashville), Drew Daniels (D, SR), Luke Eibler  (D, JR)

Incoming (3 F, 5 D) : Cam Darcy (F, USNDPT), Ryan Belonger (F, USHL), Mike McMurtry (F, CCHL), Dustin Darou (D, CCHL), Mike Gunn (D, USHL), Colton Saucerman (D, USHL), Jarrett Fennell (D, OJHL), Dax Lauwers (D, Army)

Notes: 2012-2013 Captains: Vinny Saponari (C), Ludwig Karlsson (A), Robbie Vrolyk (A)

Boston College Eagles

Leaving (4 F, 3 D, 1 G):  Paul Carey (F, Graduated), Barry Almeida (F, Graduated), Tommy Atkinson (F, Graduated), Chris Kreider (F, SR, Signed with NYR), Brian Dumoulin (D, SR, signed with Carolina), Tommy Cross (D, Graduated), Edwin Shea (D, Graduated), Chris Venti (G, Graduated)

Incoming (4 F, 4 D): Frank Vatrano (F, USNDPT), Brendan Silk (F, USNDPT), Peter McMullen (F, USHL), Evan Richardson (F, BCHL), Travis Jeke (D, Prep),  Mike Matheson (D, USHL), Ted Doherty (D, USHL), , Colin Sullivan (D, Prep)

Notes: 2012-2013 Captains: Pat Mullane (C), Steve Whitney (A), Patrick Wey (A). 

Boston University Terriers

Leaving (4 F, 1 D, 2 G): Alex Chiasson (F, SR, signed with Dallas), Chris Connolly (F, Graduated), Kevin Gilroy (F, Graduated), Ross Gaudet (F, Graduated), Adam Clendening (D, JR, signed with Chicago), Kieran Millan (G, Graduated), Grant Rollheiser (G, Graduated)

Incoming (5 F, 1, D, 2 G): Matt Lane (F, USNDPT), Wesley Myron (F, BCHL), Mike Moran (F, BCHL), Danny O’Regan (F, Prep),  Sam Kurker (F, Prep), Matt Grzelczyk (D, USNDPT) , Matthew O’Connor (G, USHL), Sean Maguire (G, BCHL)

Notes: Ryan Ruikka (D) will return for a 5th year.

Maine Black Bears

Leaving (4 F, 2 D, 1 G): Spencer Abbott (F, Graduated),  Theo Andersson (F, Graduated), Brian Flynn (F, Graduated), Matt Mangene (F, SR, Signed with Philadelphia) Will O’Neil (D, Graduated), Ryan Hegarty (D, Graduated), Josh Seeley (G, Graduated) 

Incoming (4 F, 3 D): Will Merchant (F, MN HS), Steven Swavely (F, EJHL), Devin Shore (F, OJHL), Ryan Lomberg (F, USHL),  Conor Riley (D, EJHL), Kyle Williams (D, EJHL),  Ben Hutton (D, CCHL)

Notes:  2012-2013 Tri-Captains:  Merk Nemec, Joey Diamond, Mike Cornell

Massachusetts Minuteman

Leaving (2 F, 1 D, 1 G):  TJ Syner (F, Graduating), Danny Hobbs (F, Graduating), Michael Marcou (D, Graduating), Kevin Moore (G, Graduating)

Incoming (3 F, 1 D): KJ Tiefenwerth (F, USHL), Shane Walsh (F, EJHL), Evan Stack (F, BCHL), Connor Doherty (D, EJHL)

Notes: none

UMass Lowell RiverHawks

Leaving (3 F, 1 D): Michael Budd (F, Graduating), David Vallorani (F, Graduating), Matt Ferriera (F, Graduating), Tim Corcoran (D, Graduating)

Incoming (7 F, 2 D, 1 G): AJ White (F, NAHL), Ryan McGrath (F, USHL), Adam Chapie (F, NAHL), Logan Johnston (F, BCHL), JT Stenglein (F, USHL), Michael Fallon (F, USHL), Mike Colantone (F, BCHL), Greg Amlong (D, USHL), Christian Folin (D, NAHL), Connor Hellenbuyck (G, NAHL)

Notes: Mike Conderman (F, SO) is believed to be transferring to Niagara.   Marc Boulanger (G, JR), Tyler Brickler (F, SO) and  Micki Mihailovich (D, SO) are also not expected back.

Merrimack Warriors

Leaving (5 F, 2 D, 1 G): Elliot Sheen (F, Graduating), Jeff Velleca (F, Graduating), Carter Madsen (F, Graduating), Jesse Todd (F, Graduating), Ryan Flanigan (F, Graduating), Simon Demers (D, Graduating), Karl Stollery (D, Graduating), Joe Cannata (G, Graduating)

Incoming (4 F, 3 D): Ben Bahe (F, NAHL), Vinny Scotti (F, EJHL),  John Gustafson (F, NAHL), Justin Hussar (F, USHL), Izaak Berguland  (D, BCHL), Matt Cronin (D, BCHL), Jonathan Lashyn (D, AJHL)

Notes: 2012-2013 Captains: Jordan Heywood (C), Kyle Bigos (A), Brendan Ellis (A)

New Hampshire Wildcats

Leaving (3 F, 1 D, 2 G): Stevie Moses (F, Graduating), Mike Borisenok (F, Graduating), Kevin McCarey (F, Graduating), Damon Kipp (D, Graduating), Matt DiGirolamo (G, Graduating), Tyler Scott (G, Graduating)

Incoming (5 F, 2 D, 1 G): Kyle Smith (F, EJHL), Jamie Hill (F, USHL), Maxim Gaudreault (F, USHL), Dan Correale (F, USHL), Collin MacDonald (F, EJHL), Brett Pesce (D, EJHL), Harry Quast (D, EJHL), Jamie Regan (G, EJHL)

Notes: This class is official 2012-2013 Captains: Connor Hardowa (C), Greg Burke (A), Brett Kostolansky (A).  

Providence Friars

Leaving (4 F, 4 D, 2 G): Matt Bergland (F, Graduating), Robert Maloney (F, Graduating), Andy Balysky (F, Graduating), Billy Simon (F, SR, Transferring) Daniel New (D, Graduating), David Brown (D, Graduating), Barret Kaib (D, SO, Dismissed), Craig Wyszomirski (D, SO, Transferring) Alex Beaudry (G, Graduating), Justin Gates (G, Graduating)

Incoming (7 F, 4 D, 1 G): Mark Jankowski (F, Prep Canada), Steve McParland (F, OJHL), Brooks Behling (F, NAHL), Nick Saracino (F, USHL), Paul DeJersey (F, BCHL), Brandon Tenev (F, BCHL), Brent Norris (F, CJHL), Tom Parisi (D, EJHL),  Ori Abramson (D, EJHL), Will Goss (D, Prep), John Gilmour (D, USHL), Dylan Wells (G, AJHL)

Notes: Mark Jankowski could play a year in the USHL and come in 2013.

Vermont Catamounts

Leaving (3 F, 2 D, 3 G): Sebastian Stalberg (F, SR, signed with San Jose), Matt Marshall (F, Graduating), Brett Leonard (F, Graduating), Drew MacKenzie (D, Graduating),  Lance Herrington (D, Graduating), Rob Madore (G, Graduating), John Vazzano (G, Graduating), Alex Vazzano (G, JR, Transferring) 

Incoming (7 F, 3 D, 2 G): Zegmus Girgensons (F, USHL), Robert Polesello (F, USHL), Connor Anthione (F, EJHL), Jacon Fallon (F, Michigan), Peter Massar (F, Clarkson), Ryan Rosenthal (F, Prep), Jonathan Turk (F, NAHL), Yvan Patten (D, MJHL) , Ian Spencer (D, USHL), Caylen Walls (D, AJHL), Billy Faust (G, BCHL), Brody Hoffman (G, AJHL)

Notes: 2012-2013 Captains: H.T. Lenz (C), Connor Brickley (A), Chris McCarthy (A), Tobias Nilsson-Roos (A)

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Hitting the Links

April 24, 2012

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Some news regarding both former and future Huskies, as well as some Hockey East info.
  • Russ Bitely sat down with ’13 recruit Ross Olsson.  Olsson was Madigan’s second recruit and with everyone jumping ship, its nice to hear someone say they are excited for the new era of NU hockey.    Olsson has still not decided between heading to the USHL for a season or staying one more year at his prep school before coming to Northeastern.

  • UNH released their schedule for next season.   They are the fist team to do so.  Once again, the Huskies will get an early meeting with them.  On the whole, their schedule is very similar to last year’s with home and away flipped, as well as some minor changes.   Thats pretty common for Hockey East, so expect more of the same for Northeastern’s schedule.


  • After a brutal series for Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins may need to reevaluate their goaltending situation.  Scott Burnside suggests maybe its time to start getting Brad Thiessen ready to eventually take over.  Thiessen is a restricted free agent this summer.

  • Its a rule change summer for college hockey.  Lets hope it goes better than last time, when they almost passed a rule prohibiting icing while on the PK.   On this year’s agenda: Half-Shields and changes to overtime.   We can only hope the coaches are smart enough to vote against the idea of a shootout.    Also in that article is a brief discussion on UConn to Hockey East.   That CT news station that reported it was a “done deal” seems to be a bit off the mark.   Good on Hockey East for making sure to get the proper assurances before letting a sub-.500 Atlantic Hockey team into the conference.

  • Wade MacLeod didn’t put up huge numbers in his first full AHL season,  but Bruce Landon had good things to say about the former Husky in his season-wrap for MassLive.

  • Former Coach Greg Cronin will once again be an assistant for the US team at the World Championships.

  • Earlier this season, it looked like Michael Ryan’s career might be over due to concussion problems.   But Ryan hopes to return tonight for the Rochester Amerks after missing almost all of this season.

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Off Season News and Notes

April 19, 2012

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Northeastern
  • Northeastern’s captains were announced at the year end banquet last week.  Vinny Saponari will be the Captain, with Robbie Vrolyk and Ludwig Karlsson as his alternates.  You can read about the event and all of the awards that were given out here.  Saponari, a transfer from BU, could be considered a bit of controversial pick, but personally I like it.  Its been clear since Saponari arrived at NU that he is extremely grateful for getting a 2nd chance.  He won a national championship with BU, and he also served as a leader on his Dubuque team that won the USHL title.  He looks like a changed man and I think he is the perfect guy to lead the team.  Vrolyk is an obvious choice.  No one outworks him.  Karlsson is interesting.  Definitely a popular guy among teammates and fans alike.  I guess he is going to lead by example.
  • Never say never, but I don’t think Northeastern will suffer any more losses this summer.  So that means the team is losing 5 forwards and just 2 defenseman.  They have 3 forwards and 4 defenseman coming in.  I’m speculating here, but even though the numbers matchup, I don’t think the scholarship money does.  I believe Bitetto, Quailer and the Daniels were all on pretty large scholarships.  Out of the guys coming in Darcy will almost certainly be getting a full ride or close to it.  I would guess Gunn and Belonger are getting a decent amount as well.  The three Canadians kids are all in their 20’s already, so I’m betting they aren’t getting much.  So while we can’t say for certain, I think that NU might have some money to go get another forward if thats what they want to do.   Don’t be surprised to see Madigan bring someone in this summer.
  • Who might that player be? Hard to say.  It could be another older kid from Canada, or it could be someone committed to another college for 2013 that wants to play in the NCAA next season.  St John Prep star Sam Kurker could fit the bill.  The Reading, MA native is committed to BU for 2013, but rumors have been swirling regarding him wanting to play college hockey next season.  BU doesn’t have a scholarship for him next year, so he may be on the open market.  Northeastern was among his final 3 before he decided on BU, but that was when Greg Cronin was still the coach.  Kurker had this to say about choosing BU: “It’s Division 1, a Hockey East and Beanpot school … everything you dream of”.  So you have to think NU could be a possibility.  
  • Another guy who is still out is Mike Vecchione of Saugus, MA.  Vecchione played at Malden Catholic before leaving for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm.  He decommited from UNH this winter when they asked him to come in 2013, and he has not committed anywhere yet.   
  • The schedule for next year is starting to take shape.  Fans on the USCHO forum have for the first time in history contributed something positive to society besides massive amounts of laughs.   They have created a master schedule for next year based on teams that have released info.  Northeastern has not released any info, but from spreadsheet we learn that NU will be hosting St. Lawrence of the ECAC the Friday after Thanksgiving.  We also know the Notre Dame and Michigan owe them return games.  Notre Dame will probably be at Matthews for 1 game this season.  Michigan will probably buy their way out of it, if they didn’t already do that in the initial agreement.  On the flip side, NU owes RPI a return game from 2010, but RPI’s schedule for next year does not include NU.  So maybe it was pushed back, maybe it was cancelled.  The two Beanpot games are given which means NU only gets 5 OOC games.  So that means there is still 2 (3 if Michigan bails) games to fill. A home game against Alabama Hunstville has been rumored on DHD.  We should have more on this as the summer goes on.
 Hockey East
  • We will continue updating our Hockey East Off-Season Movement article with any additional departures around Hockey East.  Our most recent update added the announced Captains for Maine and UNH.
  • UConn to Hockey East remains the big story.  Nothing official yet, but it is clear UConn is the favorite.  I just don’t see UConn being a successful team in Hockey East, especially playing games off-campus.  Hockey East would have been better off just sticking with the 10-team, bus league that we all know and love.
Alumni
  • Joe Vitale and the Penguins are down 3-1 in their first round series against Philadelphia.  Vitale has played in 3 of 4 games and he picked up a game misconduct last night.  The playoff games are the first of Vitale’s NHL career.  He has yet to register a point.
  • In the AHL, the playoffs begin tonight.  Tyler McNeely and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are the 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.  They host the Connecticut Whale.  Brad Thiessen and the WBS Penguins are the 4 seed.  They host the Hershey Bears.  Anthony Bitetto has joined the Milwaukee Admirals, but he won’t play in their playoff series.  
  • All of NU’s ECHL players have seen their seasons end either by missing the playoffs or being knocked in the first round.    
  • Best wishes to Kyle Kraemer.  He was injured in Game 3 of his team’s playoff series when he was “head-checked” by an opponent.
  • Jamie Oleksiak and his Niagara are in the Eastern Conference Finals of the OHL.  They face Ottawa in a best of 7 that starts Friday.
Recruits
  • Cam Askew is headed to Cushing Academy in the fall.  He is accelerating his studies and is planning on playing for Northeastern in 2015.
  • Daniel Willett was selected by Plymouth in the OHL Draft.   Should he choose to sign with them, he would lose his NCAA eligibility.
  • While most of the recruits’ seasons have ended, the USHL playoffs are just getting underway.  Mike Gunn (’12), Ryan Belonger (’12)  and the Youngstown Phantoms head to Green Bay as the 4 seed in the East this weekend.
  • Zach Aston-Reese (’13) and Lincoln are the 1 seed in the West.  They host Fargo this weekend.  Colton Saucerman (’12) also plays for Lincoln, but he season was ended by a torn ACL.
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Hockey East Recap: 1/30

January 30, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Those looking for clarity in the Hockey East playoff picture found everything but this weekend.  There were 4 series this weekend and all 4 ended in sweeps.

  • Northeastern took care of business and got all 4 points on the road against Vermont in a must win series.
  • Maine put themselves firmly into the title race by taking both games from BU at Agganis.  Not only did the Terriers lose both games, but they also suffered some big injuries that will test their depth in the coming weeks.
  • Elsewhere, BC got back to winning ways as they swept UNH in a home and home.
  • And finally, Lowell kept the pressure on the top of the league by sweeping UMass Amherst, giving them  a season sweep of their rivals.
  • Then on Sunday, Merrimack took care of PC at home to keep themselves in the race.

So now its the final stretch of the Hockey East race, but not much has been decided yet.  Here is a very in-depth mathematical breakdown of the Hockey East race.  That thread is constantly updated and probably one you want to keep an eye on.  But here is a simpler breakdown of the standings.

Title Contenders/Home Ice

Boston University: 25 Points; 8 games: @MC, UMA, @UML, UML, @UVM, @UVM, NU, @NU    (TB over BC)

Boston College: 25 Points; 7 games: @UVM, MC, @MC, @PC, PC, UVM, UVM     (TB over UML)

Maine: 24 Points; 7 games: @PC, @UML, UMA, UMA, @NU, @NU, UNH  (TB over BC, BU)

Merrimack: 23 points; 10 games: BU, @UMA, @UML, UNH, @BC, BC, UML, @UML, @UMA, UMA  (TB over ME)

Lowell: 22 points; 10 games: UVM, UVM, MC, ME, BU, @BU, @MC, MC, @PC, PC  (TB over UML)

A week ago everyone wanted to crown BU, but then Maine came in and reopened the argument.   These 5 are the only ones with a shot at the title and barring a miracle, the only 5 with a shot at home ice.   BC probably has the easiest schedule, but Merrimack and Lowell both have the benefit of having multiple games in hand on everyone else.   The BU/Lowell series in a couple weeks will be a big one.  As will the BC/Merrimack one.  Both of those series are 3 weeks from now.  We probably won’t know a ton until after that weekend.  Unless one of these teams really fall off, the battle for home ice is going to come right down to the wire.  This is Hockey East we are talking about so in all likelihood, the battle for the title and for home ice aren’t going to be decided until the final weekend.

The Final Three Spots

Providence: 17 points; 10 games: @UNH, UNH, ME, @UMA, @NU, @NU, BC, @BC, UML, @UML

Amherst: 14 points; 10 games: @NU, MC, @BU, PC, @ME, @ME, UNH, UNH, MC, @MC

Northeastern: 14 points; 8 games: UMA, @UNH, PC, PC, ME, ME, @BU, BU

New Hampshire: 13 points; 9 games: PC, @PC, NU, @MC, UVM, UVM, @UMA, @UMA, ME

4 teams for 3 spots.   PC and UMass have the advantage with the most games left to be played.   New Hampshire gets to face everyone they are chasing which means they basically control their own destiny.  And NU gets the benefit of having plenty of home games, though their schedule is a bit challenging.  The biggest thing to note is that none of the tiebreakers have been decided between these teams, so when they face it each other head to head, both valuable points and as well as the potentially crucial tiebreaker will be on the line.     Another interesting note is that they all play each other in the next couple weeks but finish with teams from the top half.   So there will most likely be a lot of scoreboard watching during that final weekend.  This weekend is huge as NU and Amherst faceoff in a game that could give Amherst the tiebreaker.  UNH/PC play a home and home and if PC can get 3 points, they will be very close to assuring themselves a playoff spot.

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So Hockey East is a mess, just like always.  And every time it looks like the picture is clearing up, you can be sure someone is going to do something unexpected and make it even cloudier.   Its should be a great final month though.

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Hockey East Holiday Plans

December 28, 2011

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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.

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Hockey East at the Break

December 16, 2011

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With the first half of the season in the books, we can see how the Hockey East picture is developing.  As usual, the top of the conference is well represented on the national scale.  And they are already breaking away from the bottom half.  Some teams look ready for a big second half, while a few others could be in for a long year.  Here is a recap of the first half and an outlook on the second half for the entire conference.  We will have more on Northeastern specifically next week.

Boston College: 9-4-0, 18 Points, 14 games left

BC sits in 1st after a typical BC first half. Losses to Lowell and UMass Amherst raised some eyebrows, but the biggest surprise of the season so far for them was dropping 2 out of 3 to BU.  Defenseman Patrick Wey’s return form injury should help the Eagles, as will freshman Brian Billet’s play in net.  They have some big games left: 3 with Merrimack, Frozen Fenway and the Beanpot, but for the most part there schedule is pretty easy: 3 with Vermont, 2 with PC, UNH, and Maine.

Prediction: The Eagles do what they always do and go on a tear in the second half that takes them deep into the NCAA’s.

Boston University Terriers: 8-4-1, 17 points, 14 games left

The Terriers had to feel good about themselves going into the break.  They had overcome some early season inconsistency to turn things around and be in really good position.  1 day into that break things began to unravel and the drama hasn’t stopped all week.  Corey Trivino, Hockey East’s leading scorer is gone.  Charlie Coyle is gone.  And now their are reports some of the players are unhappy with Parker’s handling of things.  Their USCHO thread is both hilarious and just downright sad.  It is a rough time to be a Fanboy.  The players could rally around this and put together a good second half, but an outright collapse is much more likely.

Prediction: We haven’t seen the last midseason exit on Comm Ave this season.

Merrimack College Warriors: 7-2-1, 15 points, 17 games remaining

Merrimack took advantage of an easy schedule in the 1st half and earned the #1 ranking in the country for the first time in school history.  They have struggled a bit heading into the break, but with 3 games in hand on the teams ahead of them, they have to like their chances at a league title.  The Warriors have allowed the fewest goals in the conference, but they have also scored the second fewest.  Joe Canatta is the only reason they are where they are and he has been amazing this season.  Merrimack has yet to play BC, UNH, Lowell, and UMass Amherst so far.  And they still have 2 games against BU and Maine.

Prediction: The Warriors cool down a bit in the second half and get upset in the 1st round of the Hockey East playoffs.

UMass Lowell River Hawks: 7-4-0, 14 points, 16 games remaining

First year coach Norm Bazin has really turned this team around.  After missing the playoff last year, the River Hawks have already surpassed last season’s point toal thanks to some talented freshman and great play in net from sophomore Doug Carr.  Lowell seems like a good bet for home ice, which no one would have said preseason.  They have wins against BC and BU already, but they still have all 3 games to play against Merrimack.  This team culd very easily be making its first appearance at the Garden since 08/09.

Prediction:  Lowell continues to play well, but ends up on the wrong side of the bubble come tournament time.

Providence Friars: 6-4-0, 12 points, 17 games remaining

Another first year coach who has found success.  The Friars got off to a great start, but looked to be slowing down a bit.   They then proceeded to sweep Merrimack and put themselves firmly in the race for home ice.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 07/08.  They haven’t had a winning record since 05/06.  So whether they get home ice or not, this will probably be a good season for them.

Prediction: PC makes the playoffs for the first time since 07/08, and then gets sewpt just like they did in 07/08.

Maine Black Bears: 5-6-1, 11 points, 15 games remaining

The days of Maine being a national power are long gone.  But this season has them headed for a new low.  They don’t have much on defense or in net and they don’t score enough to make up for that. Its no longer impossible to win away at Alfond.  There has been a demonstration and a petition in an effort to get Tim Whitehead to step down from the head coaching position.  If it werent for a sweep of Vermont, things might look even worse up in Orono.  Either way its going to be a very long second half for them.

Prediction: Maine misses the playoffs, the state of Maine goes beserk and Whitehead is fired.

Northeastern Huskies: 4-7-2, 10 points, 14 games remaining

Jim Madigan’s return to coaching couldn’t have got off to  a worst start.  But since starting 1-7-2, the Huskies have ripped off 6 straight wins.  Unfortunately 3 of those were nonconference, so the Huskies have some work to do in conference.   3 games against BU, and 2 against Maine, Vermont and PC should help with that though.  They have been playing really well lately, but their poor start has given them almost no margin for error going forward.

Prediction: Northeastern wins the Beanpot.  The Huskies manage to grab home ice…barely.

New Hampshire Wildcats: 4-7-1, 9 points, 15 games remaining

The Wildcats have been awful this season.  And they just lost one of their big recruits for next season.  The last time UNH didn’t get home ice was 1996.  That streak is a good as gone.  Their main concern is just making the playoffs at this point.  With 2 games against Maine, Vermont, UMass Amherst, plus 3 with PC, they will get every chance to save themselves.

Prediction: UNH turns it on late and surprise everybody be making it to the Garden.

UMass Amherst Minuteman: 2-6-3, 7 points, 16 games remaining

The Minuteman picked up right where they left off last year: sucking.  But as they head into break, there is a bit more hope for them.  There have been some positive signs as of late and their schedule gives them the chance to pick up some spots in the standings: 2 with Maine, UNH, PC, Vermont.  Goalie and defense have been issues at times, but they do have some talent.  They made it into the playoffs last year and they will be hoping to again this year.

Prediction: Just like last year, UMass Amherst sneaks into the playoffs and then gets booted real quick.

Vermont Catamounts: 1-9-2, 3 points, 15 games remaining

The Catamounts are running away with last place.  They can’t do much of anything and there isn’t any chance of a turnaround up there.

Prediction: UVM finishes in the single digit in terms of points and Kevin Sneddon is fired.

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Hockey East Weekend Preview: 12/9

December 9, 2011

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Hockey East

 

Overall

GP

W

L

T

Pts

 

       W

L

T

1 Boston College

12

9

3

0

18

 

       12

5

0

2 Merrimack

10

7

2

1

15

 

       10

2

1

Boston University

12

7

4

1

15

 

        9

5

1

4 UMass Lowell

9

6

3

0

12

 

        9

4

0

Providence

10

6

4

0

12

 

        8

7

1

6 Maine

11

5

5

1

11

 

        6

6

2

7 New Hampshire

12

4

7

1

9

 

        6

9

2

8 Northeastern

12

3

7

2

8

 

        6

7

2

9 Massachusetts

11

2

6

3

7

 

        5

7

4

10 Vermont

11

1

9

1

3

 

        3

11

1

 


Its a light schedule for Hockey East as we see the final 3 conference games of the fall semester.  But first lets take a look back at the midweek games from this week.
  • On Tuesday, BC beat PC 4-1.  Jerry York was true to his word and started the “hot” goalie, Brian Billett.  The freshman is now 3-0 for the Eagles and you have to imagine he will see the majority of the playing time going forward.  Despite the loss, PC find themselves in very good position.  After picking up just 15 points last season, they have 12 this year in a third of the games.
  • Merrimack got back to their winning ways on Wednesday, whipping Vermont 5-2.   Vermont seems to have 10th place locked up pretty tight.  They have reached a level of sucking that cannot and will not be matched in Hockey East this season.    How the hell did they beat Minnesota?
  • Also on Wednesday, UMass continued their quest to be the most confusing team in the league by beating Yale 3-1 to end their up and down  first half.  A quick look at the numbers show that there is nothing confusing about their wildlyfluctuating play.  The Minuteman are 5-0-3 at home and 0-7-1 on the road.
  • Speaking of teams that are awful on the road, UNH finished up their disappointing first half by losing to BU at home last night. The Wildcats enter the break on a 3 game losing streak.  An 0-6-2 record on the road shows just how rough of a half they have had.  If you can’t remember the Wildcats sucking this bad, its probably because they never do.The last time UNH didn’t finish in the top 4 of Hockey East was 1996.  Thats the longest streak in Hockey East by far (BU has finished top 4 since 2005), but it looks to be ending this year.

Now for this weekend’s games:

  • Merrimack has a big non conference game on the road at Colgate.  This matchup has big Pairwise implications for not only Merrimack, but all Hockey East teams hoping to make the NCAA tournament.   Its good to see Merrimack going on the road and testing themselves.   Their previous OOC games have been at home vs Army, UConn and Alabama Huntsville.
  • Lowell is coming off a sweep of UNH and starting to work themselves into  a potential at-large spot.  They will have their hands full this weekend.  They host BC on Friday before coming to Matthews to play the Huskies on Saturday.  Lowell currently finds themselves tied for 4th despite playing the fewest amount of Hockey East games.  They will be looking to finish their excellent first half strong.
  • And lastly on Saturday, BU travels up to Orono to take on the struggling Black Bears.  Yawn.  This game is on TV!? somehow.  BU has just one loss at Alfond since 2006.  With these teams going in complete opposite directions, its pretty easy to guess what will happen.  I mean there is absolutely no way that the Terriers could possibly lose this game.  None. Its just not possible.

This is basically the last weekend of the first half.  Merrimack and Vermont each a have a home game against ECAC teams next Saturday, and then its off to the Holiday tournaments for most teams or a couple weeks off for the rest.

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