By: Brian DeAlmeida
Last Week In Review:
Lets just call it what it was, last week was a pretty cut and dry week in the world of Hockey East. In my opinion, you had the top three teams take on three teams that are in the bottom tier of the conference with really only one toss up series with Providence vs Vermont. Anybody who had even the slightest bit of a clue about how hockey worked would have been able to predict what would happen this week. But anyway, lets take a look back at the week it was:
#2 Boston College played a home and home series with New Hampshire, and well, lets just say that one went according to the script. The Eagles rattled off a 6-1 victory at home and then traveled to UNH where they grabbed a 3-0 win. In game one, BC suited up sophomore Gabriella Switaj in net instead of Katie Burt. In her 2nd start of the season, Switaj would grab 22 saves off 23 shots for her 2nd career win. Four separate Eagles would score 3 points in the Eagle’s thrashing of the Wildcats.
In the second game with Katie Burt in net, BC would shut out UNH while three different Eagles would score. It’s almost unfair that the Eagles have to play these lesser WHEA teams because they are just TOO good for their competition.
#5 Northeastern has slowly been creeping up the USCHO.com poll, jumping two spots thanks to their sweep of Merrimack. After an offensive struggle against Maine just two weekends ago, the Huskies poured 14 goals on the Warriors in just two games while allowing only three. In game one, the offensive onslaught was lead by, guess who, Kendall Coyne who netted her second straight hat trick against Merrimack while also tacking on an assist.
The Warriors were finally able to figure out Coyne in game two, holding her to just 2 assists but forgot about Denisa Krizova who would light the lamp twice. This Huskies team has slowly and surely been creeping up the polls and could be one of the most curious cases in the entire NCAA season because nobody really knows where they will go from here.
Boston University had the pleasure of hosting Maine this weekend in their two games series and stole both victories by a score of 5-3 and 3-2. In game one, Sarah Lefort made some history for the Terriers as her two goal performance gave her the most goals in school history with 87 passing the record set by Marie Phillip-Poulin. Maddie Elia also tacked one two more goals to her team leading 10 total.
In game two, BU and net minder Erin O’Neil would survive a late scare by the Black Bears who scored twice in the final period. After their disappointing loss to BC, the Terriers have kicked their season into another gear and we could be looking at the most dangerous team we’ve seen so far for BU. On the other hand, Maine is a pesky team in Hockey East and can be sticking around for some time and maybe even get in the tournament and would be a team you wouldn’t want to play in the opening round.
In the most interesting match up of the weekend, Providence and Vermont squared off in Burlington. Now let me expand, I called in interesting because there was no solid favor in the matchup like there was in the other three series. In the first game, the Friars would be lead by Madison Sansone’s two goals in their 4-1 victory over the Catamounts. But in the second game, Vermont would score three straight 3rd period goals, including a power play tally with three seconds left to stun the Friars in a 4-3 victory.
What To Watch For:
I’m going to add something very special for the next few weeks in this segment called Coyne Watch. As you can assume, Kendall Coyne is pretty close to doing something amazing and rewriting history. She currently sits at 69 goals, 58 assists and 127 points in Hockey East play which places her in striking distance for being the all time Hockey East leader in all three. She currently trails Jenn Wakefield (71 career goals), Sam Faber (73 career assists) and Kelli Stack (133 career points). Northeastern will play two Hockey East games this weekend against Boston College and Vermont so make sure to keep an eye out on that one.
So besides Coyne watch, we have nine Hockey East games for the weekend slate leading up to Thanksgiving week.
#2 Boston College (14-0-0)(8-0-0 WHEA) will host #5 Northeastern (10-1-1)(6-0-0 WHEA) on Friday night in a clash of NCAA heavy weights. Not to mention you also have two Patty Kazmaier candidates in BC’s Alex Carpenter and Northeastern’s Kendall Coyne. This game will have it ALL including the nation’s leading scorers, two incredible goaltenders, two potent offenses and two very, very good teams. I know I’ve said it before and I will probably say it again but this has game of the year implications as well as an even bigger say on how Hockey East will shape out this season.
The Terriers (8-6-0)(6-3-0 WHEA) will get a chance to play their first home and home series ever with the newly formed Merrimack Warriors (2-10-0)(1-5-0 WHEA). The Terriers have started to get really hot after their 4-3 OT heartbreaker to #2 Boston College and have started to come into the favorable part of their schedule. Sitting at 8-6-0 on the year they can finally crawl out of the .500 gutter with two big wins against Merrimack. Sarah Lefort broke the team record for most goals in a season, Maddie Elia has lit the lamp a team high 10 times and Rebecca Leslie is 11th in the country in scoring with 20 points and tied for 2nd in assets with 16. On the other hand, Merrimack is starting to find their footing as a program, to bad it is in the hardest conference in all of college hockey.
Vermont (3-9-0)(3-3-0 WHEA) will take on Connecticut (4-6-2)(1-4-0 WHEA) on Friday night and then travel to #5 Northeastern on Saturday. With the Catamounts sitting in a tie for fourth with Maine, a win against a struggling UConn team is must needed before traveling to Matthews Arena to take on the other Huskies of Hockey East. UConn currently sits at the bottom half of the conference despite having Elaine Chuli in net. They will also face off against Maine (6-8-0)(3-6-0 WHEA) on Saturday in Orono and need to take at least on of their games to stay in the conversation for a late season push.
Providence (2-8-0)(2-4-0 WHEA) has the two very different match-ups when they play two games on the road against the Catamounts of New Hampshire (2-12-0)(2-7-0), who they are currently tied for 6th with before they take on the #2 Boston College Eagles. The Friars are coming off a big win last weekend against Vermont while UNH got beat black and blue by the Eagles. Both teams are in desperate need of a win and this series is an absolute toss up.
Brian’s Red Hot Pick of the Week [Week 6 (8-0) Overall (24-6)]:
Last week really stroked my ego as I has my first perfect weekend of picks EVER in only five tries. So that means one thing, I can only go down from here. And thus, lets begin our decent on the downward slope in Week 7:
The Series: Boston University and Merrimack
After a two win weekend against Maine, the Terriers are starting to find their stride and look like the Terriers of old as they host Merrimack. They are finally getting away from the .500 mark and this weekend can move them even further away from there. Merrimack has been quite impressive in their first season, keeping games close and even managing to win two but their time hasn’t exactly come yet as the whole team is still learning the ropes of Division I hockey.
As much as I love the underdog story of Merrimack, the Terriers are starting to roll heading into the Thanksgiving holiday and need these two before taking on Ohio State and Cornell. These games can be a great way to bolster their individual stats and walk away with two more wins on their record.
The Series: Providence @ New Hampshire
The Friars had the opportunity to get two wins in Vermont last weekend before losing on a last second power play goal in game two. The Wildcats just had their head knocked-in by Boston College. This is a very interesting series all around as both teams have struggled but are still in striking distance of 4th place in the conference
I like what the Friars did last weekend and they had a real chance to win both games. For UNH, their last win came against UConn two and a half weeks ago. Believe me, this one is hard to pick because its a toss up but I’m going to have to go with the Providence sweep due to how well they have been playing the the struggles of UNH.
The Game: #5 Northeastern @ #2 Boston College
What more do I really have to say about this one? This is the marquee match up of the weekend and quite possible the year, not only in Hockey East but in the NCAA as well. You have arguably the two best players in the whole country in this one with their whole supporting cast behind them so buckle up because its going to be one hell of a night.
You gotta give the Eagles the edge, they’re undefeated and have dismantled every team in their path thus far besides the Terriers. The only two hiccups in Northeastern’s season came over a month ago while the season while still young. I have to go against the grain on this one and go with Northeastern. Why you ask? Its just a gut feeling because you can justify either team to win this one and well you wouldn’t be wrong either way.
The Game: Vermont @ Connecticut
These games are always the toughest ones to pick because I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and watch either team and they’re records barely reflect how they have played. Both have great goalies and that might be what it comes down to because both offenses have been anemic so far this season.
I think UConn is much better than 4-6-2 and with a goalie like Elaine Chuli how could they not be? Two out of Vermont’s three Hockey East wins came to a team that was either winless or had only one win at the time. So yes the other Huskies of Hockey East will pull through and win this one.
The Game: Vermont @ #5 Northeastern
Unfortunately for Vermont, they are going to run into a very pumped up Huskies team that just knocked off the #2 team in the country or they are going to face a very mad Northeastern team that underperformed against the Eagles. So either way this one isn’t going to be fun for the Catamounts.
Northeastern is just too good for Vermont and they will outlast them if this game goes deep into the final period. But I don’t predict it being that close as Northeastern should easily add another one in the win column.
The Game: Connecticut @ Maine
The Huskies will get two games against teams that are tied for 4th in Hockey East in Vermont and Maine. The Black Bears are coming off a disappointing sweep against the Terriers and are looking for blood and a win to keep them in the number 4 position.
Despite dropping both games, the Black Bears keep the games close and competitive. I believe they have a much better all around offensive team that will make sure to pester the UConn keeper all night long. Maine needs this one and I believe they will get it to.
The Game: Providence @ #2 Boston College
Well this one is pretty self explanatory. Unless the Eagles went into complete self destruct mode, even a blind man could see how good BC has been this season. Providence has played well, but not well enough to even compete with the ladies for Chestnut Hill.
Fly Eagles Fly! Is that a Philly thing? Yeah probably but I liked it and its makes a ton of sense to use it in this context.
This Week’s Hockey East Schedule:
Friday November 20
#5 Northeastern @ #2 Boston College 7:00pm
BOSTON UNIVERSITY @ Merrimack 7:00pm
Vermont @ Connecticut 7:00pm
Saturday November 21
Providence @ New Hampshire 2:00pm
Vermont @ #5 Northeastern 2:30pm
Merrimack @ BOSTON UNIVERSITY 3:00pm
Sunday November 22
Connecticut @ Maine 2:00pm
Providence @ New Hampshire 2:00pm
Tuesday November 24
#5 Northeastern @ #9 Harvard 7:00pm
Wednesday November 25
Providence @ #2 Boston College 4:00pm