By: Women’s Hockey Staff
We’re at that part of the season where 2015 is all but a distant memory and 2016 holds a promising future for all including all nine teams in Hockey East. 2015 was kind to Boston University as they claimed their 5th straight Hockey East crown when they defeated the then one loss Boston College Eagles in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Hockey East also crowned a Patty Kazmir award winner in the Eagles’ Alex Carpenter who tore through the country to claim the award. But all that is just history now as we’re now two months into the 2015-2016 season.
Now, it’s only fair since it is halfway through the season to give the WTBU staff’s Hockey East Tournament predictions. But before we see what our writers think, let’s see how the conference stands as of right now:
- Boston College (20-0-0) (13-0-0 WHEA)
- Boston University (13-7-1) (10-3-1 WHEA)
- Northeastern (13-4-1)(9-2-0 WHEA)
- New Hampshire (8-14-1) (5-8-0 WHEA)
- Providence (6-11-0) (4-7-0 WHEA)
- Connecticut (7-8-3) (3-5-1 WHEA)
- Vermont (4-15-0) (3-7-0 WHEA)
- Maine (7-13-1) (3-9-0 WHEA)
- Merrimack (2-17-0) (1-10-0 WHEA)
And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the WTBU staffs mid-season Hockey East predictions.
1. Boston College:
It is difficult to foresee any team, even with BU behind them, overtaking the Eagles at the top spot by the end of the season. After their last regular season visit to Walter Brown Arena, BC will face basement-dwelling Merrimack and struggling Vermont in five straight games. They will likely continue their unbeaten streak up to at least the Beanpot tournament.
2. Boston University:
Led by their second-line all year, the Terriers are likely to stay put in Hockey East. The team has one out-of-conference game remaining against Quinnipiac, the top team in the ECAC.
After wrapping up their season series with UCONN, New Hampshire, and Maine, the Huskies find themselves facing BU or BC for five of their remaining six games. Kendall Coyne trails only Haley Skarupa and Alex Carpenter in the race for top point scorer in Hockey East.
The race for the fourth spot is tight. New Hampshire holds it at the moment while Providence and Connecticut are within three points of the spot. It is very easy to see these teams flip-flopping throughout the second half, but the Huskies are most likely to end up on top.
The Friars were embarrassed by BU before a bounce-back win against Merrimack. They will begin the second half with four non-conference matchups, two each against Robert Morris and RIT, before resuming Hockey East play. A tough home-and-home against Boston College ends their season and does not help their cause.
The main advantage for the Black Bears is that they play each of their next 12 games in back-to-back sets. Maine is unlikely to sweep any of the series and will once again travel for the first round.
7. New Hampshire:
Nothing will come easy for the Wildcats once they return to play. Five of their 11 remaining games are against Northeastern (three) and BU (two).
Four straight against BU and BC in late January are likely to derail any hope the Catamounts have in hosting a first-round game.
Despite the tournament being in Lawler Rink, expect the Warriors to miss playing in it. Their two wins this season came against New Hampshire and Colgate in the opening month of the season. In their first year as a D-I program, little was anticipated and little came in returns.
(1) Boston College vs. (8) Vermont: Never mind the home ice advantage, the Eagles have 11 players ahead of Dayna Colang, Vermont’s leading scorer. With Katie Burt in net, BC can kick off their tournament with a bang. WINNER: BC
(2) Boston University vs. (7) New Hampshire: These teams will be familiar to each other after they play in the second to last week of the season. If this is to be anything like their first meeting, BU will trail to start the game and come back in the third for the win. WINNER: BU
(3) Northeastern vs. (6) Maine: Though the Black Bears can deceive, Coyne and Denisa Křížová’s offense will be too much. Add in the Matthews Arena advantage and the Huskies should cruise to victory. WINNER: Northeastern
(4) Connecticut vs. (5) Providence: These two will play all of their games against each other in the last half of the year. On a hunch, I’ll take the visitors in an upset. WINNER: Providence
(1) Boston College vs. (5) Providence: With all the advantages in their favor, especially in the goal scoring department, the Eagles can get a major momentum game in their favor. After all, stomping the Friars here will be nothing compared to a much tougher opponent in the final. WINNER: BC
(2) Boston University vs. (3) Northeastern: Unlike their first meeting, a 7-1 trouncing by Northeastern, the dog fight (pun intended) should be in full effect. Boston’s defense must not be as thin as the goal line if they want hope at winning this game. With the emergence of the top-three lines as scoring threats, BU can squeak one by their cross-city neighbors. WINNER: BU
(1) Boston College vs. (2) Boston University: No matter what name you use to describe this rivalry, it is always a fight. Here’s how I see this game panning out: Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa will carry the BC offense while Katie Burt stonewalls BU through the first period, BU’s second line will emerge as Hanson shuts the door in the second, penalties will riddle the third as both teams fail to break the deadlock, and overtime will see an unknown from BC win the game late. WINNER: BC
1. Boston College:
The Eagles currently sit at #1 in the entire nation and for good reasons. They have the reigning Patty Kaz winner along with an outstanding host of other players on both sides of the ice. Their dominance will continue into 2016 and we may see them enter the tournament undefeated in Hockey East play like last year.
The Huskies entered the season flying under the radar but boy did they put themselves on the map. Thanks to a lady named Kendall Coyne the Huskies have skated from relative obscurity at the beginning of the year to the #8 team in the country. While they still have 2 games against BC remaining, I think they can leg out BU for that #2 spot.
3. Boston University
Even though it isn’t where the Terriers imagined themselves landing, the three spot is great territory for the Terriers. There is a chance of them sliding up to two but if the first semester taught us anything it is that the Terriers can be quite streaky at times which may hurt them in long stretches of Hockey East play.
While the Black Bears sit at only 3-9-0 in Hockey East play, which is tied for 7th, they have one thing going for them in the 2nd semester, no remaining games against BU and BC and only 2 against Northeastern. That means that 7 of their currently losses are to teams in the top 3 which means great thing to come for a pretty strong Maine team.
The Friars are my dark horse of the 2nd half after they finished strong towards the end of the first half. While they still have two games remaining against BU, BC and Northeastern, this Providence team is capable of pulling out an upset and would be a team nobody wants to play in the tournament.
While I have them at 6th, this team is very capable of shooting up to 4th at any given moment. Yet they’re coming off a dismal November and December where they won only two games out of twelve.
7. New Hampshire
The Wildcats finished December going 5-1-1 but will have to play two against Northeastern, then travel up to Orono to take on Maine and then take on the Huskies again right out of the gate in January.
Vermont is between a rock and a hard place. They will have to take on a stretch of 4 games against BU and BC and could possibly be threatened by Merrimack for the final spot if they don’t take care of the Warriors.
Nobody told them Division I hockey would be a walk in the park, especially in Hockey East. While they could upend the Catamounts for the 8 seed, its highly unlikely but this season was good for getting experience for their very young roster.
(1) Boston College vs (8) Vermont: I don’t think this one will take a rocket scientist to figure out. The Eagles may end the season as the top team in the country and have the first ever two-time Patty Kaz winner on their team as well. WINNER: BC
(2) Northeastern vs (7) New Hampshire: While New Hampshire may start the second semester in 4th, their second half will not be as pleasant. Enter the Huskies. With the firing power of Kendall Coyne, this team has a chip on their shoulder. WINNER: Northeastern
(3) Boston University vs (6) Connecticut: This isn’t the matchup the Terriers want in the first round as UConn has taken them to the wire in all three games this season, but BU has a different gear in the playoffs that the Huskies just don’t have. Winner: BU
(4) Maine vs (5) Providence: This series is a true toss up with both teams playing well throughout the season. The major factor will be experience and difference makers which only one team really has. Winner: Maine
(1) Boston College vs (4) Maine: All fairytales come to an end eventually right? While the Black Bears have only made it this far 3 times in program history (2003, 2004, 2006), the story will end here when BC overpowers them. Winner: BC
(2) Northeastern vs (3) Boston University: The Terriers don’t have a star player to carry the load in the postseason like they have in past years while the Huskies are hungry and know that this is their chance with it being senior Kendall Coyne’s final season. Winner: Northeastern
(1) Boston College vs (2) Northeastern: Let me make it clear I’m not a fan of picking all the favorites but that’s just how it worked out here. The Eagles have the potential to punish you with every single line and have the defense and goalie to keep you off the scoresheet. The Huskies have firepower of their own and have strengths up and down the ice to match the Eagles. In their first match up, the Huskies matched the Eagles punch for punch until the game got away from them late. But one thing is on Northeastern’s side, BC’s speciality of choking in very big time games. The Eagles only Hockey East title came in 2011 and it looks like they may have to wait again. Winner: Northeastern