Showing posts with label Merrimack Hockey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Merrimack Hockey. Show all posts

Monday, November 19, 2012

BC Hockey Comes Back Against Merrimack

#1 ranked Boston College continued to roll, beating Merrimack 4-3 Friday night. The Eagles fell behind by 3 goals in the 2nd period, but erased that deficit in less than 5 minutes, also in the 2nd period. Then in the 3rd, Steven Whitney's 6th goal of the season gave the Eagles their 8th win, and coach Jerry York's 922nd career victory (the record is 924).

After Merrimack went up 3-0, Whitney started the scoring for BC in the 2nd. So far this season the senior from Reading, Mass. has been BC's secret weapon behind Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau assisted both Whitney's scores. Patrick Wey and Danny Linell scored BC's other goals.

The Eagles shot the puck 42 times, and barely missed on a few scoring opportunities in the 1st period. BC didn't figure out Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta until the 2nd.

BC hosts Dartmouth on Saturday in a non-conference game, then it's the annual home-and-home against BU on the 30th and December 1st. Jerry York can tie and break the all-time record for college hockey coaching wins in those rivalry games, which would be quite fitting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hockey East Quarterfinals

BC grinded out two very physical games against UMass, winning their 12th and 13th straight games. BC also now has a 10 game winning streak in this tournament. The Minutemen are big and can skate, which forced BC to play out of their comfort level. UMass tried to keep the game along the boards, but they lacked the finishing touches on scoring chances. BC beat them 2-1 then 3-2. BC is in the semifinals for the 8th straight year.

BU needed 11 periods plus 8 minutes to beat UNH in a series that twice went into Double OT. It was a marathon series with 228 minutes of grueling hockey played. Kieran Millan made 68 saves in Game 3. At one point the Terriers were down 4-1, they tied it at 4-4 and the 3rd, and Alex Chiasson won it in the 2nd OT. The series was just the latest in a long series of dramatic events for the BU hockey program this season.

Maine likely eliminated Merrimack from the NCAA Tournament by beating them 2 of 3 up in Orono. The NCAAs only have 11 at-large bids and right now Merrimack is ranked 17th in the PairWise Comparison Rating. Maine solidified their standing, but could use a win against BU to really feel safe.

Providence advanced to the Hockey East semifinals for the first time since 2001 by upsetting UMass-Lowell. The Friars ended the regular season with two losses to UML, but were able to beat them Thursday and Sunday night. They'll play BC, who they lost to twice before losing to UMass-Lowell twice.

The semifinal round will be played Friday night at the TD Garden. The games will be on NESN.

5:00pm - #1 Boston College vs. #7 Providence
8:00pm - #2 Boston University vs. #4 Maine

The Championship game will be played Saturday at 8:00pm.

Also, Harvard beat Yale two out of three to advance to the ECAC semifinals in Atlantic City. They'll play Cornell on Friday.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Hockey East Tournament Preview

The other March Madness is upon us. The Hockey East tournament starts tonight. The first round is a best of three series played at the superior seed's rink. Next Friday the semifinals will be played at the Garden, and the final will be played Saturday night. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic NCAA berth. And bubble teams like Maine and Merrimack might need that to get into the big tournament. Here are the pairings for this weekend's quarterfinal series:

UMass won the season series against BC 2-1. But they last played January 13th. BC is 12-2-0 since that meeting. They've won 11 in a row and are getting hot at precisely the right time. They've outscored their opponents 48-13 in those 11 wins. They're winning hard games like the Beanpot Final against BU and they're crushing weaker teams like Providence (outscored them 10-0 in two games) and Vermont (outscored them 9-1 in two games). BC will destroy UMass.

These teams played a home-and-home series to end the regular season. They could conceivably play 5 straight games against each other. But I don't think it will go that far. One of the reasons UMass-Lowell was able to earn the #2 seed was because they swept PC in that weekend series. Umass-Lowell isn't an amazing team, but they take care of business and win the games they should win. They'll beat Providence.

BU has had an interesting season. They beat BC in the season series but lost to them in the Beanpot. Entering last weekend, they had a chance to win the Hockey East regular season title, then fell to 3rd when they lost to Northeastern. And they've lost multiple players due to sexual assault allegations. They're 6-6 in their last 12 games, and two of those victories were against lowly Vermont. Even though UNH is hardly red hot right now, I have a feeling like the Wildcats will squeak out a 3 game upset.

These teams have the most to play for in the tournament. Right now Maine appears to be in the NCAA tournament. And Merrimack is just on the outside. Maine can't afford setbacks and Merrimack needs to impress in this tournament to advance to the next one. Maine beat BC and bU twice this year, but was 0-2-1 against Merrimack. Even though the game is up in Orono, I have to give the edge to Merrimack, even though the warriors have struggled down the stretch. MC in 3.

I really can't see BC losing in this tournament. They're red hot, they have experience in big games, and goalie Parker Milner has been playing excellent in his last 12 starts (12-0-0, 14 goals allowed, .955 SV%).

Televised games:
Friday 7:30pm - NBC Sports - BC vs. UMass
Saturday 4:00pm - NESN - BU vs. UNH

The semifinals will be on NESN next Friday, as well on the finals next Saturday.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


When will college football forsake their coveted bowls and realize that college playoffs are some of the most exciting, riveting drama in sports? Anyway, 16 teams will vie for the 2011 NCAA Hockey Championship. Divided into four regions, all these games will take place this weekend, with the Frozen Four played two weeks later in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here's the tournament field:

#1 Yale Bulldogs vs. #4 Air Force Falcons
Yale only lost 6 times all season. But one of those came against Air Force back in November. But it was also in Colorado. This will be in Yale's backyard, and the Bulldogs only lost once at home all season. Yale are the #1 overall seeds in the tournament, and even though I think they won't win it all, they'll be able to cruise past Air Force 5-1.

#2 Union Dutchmen vs. #3 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
It's been an historic year for Union hockey, and now they make their first ever tournament appearance. They'll face UMD, one of 5 teams representing the mighty WCHA. Union were solid all year, and won the ECAC regular season title. They even beat Yale. They might have some jitters, though. Both these teams were knocked out by inferior opponents in their conference tournaments. But looking at UMD, they took care of business in the WCHA when facing teams that weren't ridiculously good. I think they beat Union 4-3.

That would set up a Yale vs. UMD meeting. I'd pick Yale in that one, because UMD frequently lost to the super talented WCHA teams they faced.

#1 Miami (OH) RedHawks vs. #4 New Hampshire Wildcats
One thing I don't like about this tournament is that "hosts" like Yale and UNH were going to wind up in Bridgeport and Manchester, respectively, no matter what. It's an effort to ensure a packed house. But it unfairly punishes a good team like Miami. It also sends a team like BC to Missouri.

However, Miami is good enough to overcome the disadvantage. The RedHawks have won more NCAA tournament games (5) in the past two seasons than either BU or BC, the winners of those tourneys. They're experienced, hungry, and very good. UNH and Miami actually split a 2 game series in October. However, it's now March, and UNH sucks in March. They're 4-5-2 in their last 11. Miami will make that 4-6-2. RedHawks win 4-1.

#2 Merrimack Warriors vs. #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Merrimack get to play this game only an hour's drive from Andover. So count on lots of yellow and blue in the stands. The Warriors were nearly unbeatable at home. And their valiant effort in the Hockey East finals against BC was quite impressive. Notre Dame held their own in the difficult CCHA, but never won the big games. Merrimack has done well against good teams, so long as they're close to home. Merrimack wins 3-2.

That would pit Miami against Merrimack. I think Miami is simply too good to not emerge from this region. RedHawks advance.

#1 Boston College Eagles vs. #4 Colorado College Tigers
East vs. West in St. Louis. How appropriate. Since Thanksgiving, BC has lost a total of 2 games. Colorado College lost that many games in the WCHA tournament. BC hasn't lost an NCAA game since the 2007 Finals. And even though that game was played in the same building as this, that winning streak will continue. BC 3, CC 1.

#2 Michigan Wolverines vs. #3 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks
Michigan just announced that they'll be joining the new Big Ten hockey conference in the 2013-14 season. These teams split a series in Ann Arbor back in October. Both struggled against the elite teams in their conferences, but both occasionally beat them. I'm going to go with Michigan because they have a tradition of excelling in the NCAA tournament (9 titles). Wolverines win 4-2.

BC against Michigan would be a fun game to watch. And I think the Eagles would win 6-4.

#1 North Dakota Fighting Sioux vs. #4 RPI Red Hawks
North Dakota might be the best team in the country, and after grinding out a double OT 3-2 win over Denver to win the WCHA title, it'd be hard to disagree. RPI limped down the stretch. They have some solid wins on their resume, but 20 wins with a soft ECAC schedule doesn't impress me much. North Dakota will destroy RPI 5-0.

#2 Denver Pioneers vs. #3 Western Michigan Broncos
WMU's 19 wins is the lowest total in the NCAA field. Denver beat NCAA tournament teams 6 times this year. They also lost their fair share of games against such teams, but being able to beat the likes of North Dakota in Grand Forks is pretty impressive. They've got a good goalie that keeps them in every game, and they should dispense of WMU with ease. Denver wins 3-0.

I think Denver will upset North Dakota 4-3 in OT, and move on to the Frozen Four.

Yale vs. Miami - Yale hasn't played teams like this in the ECAC. Miami extends their 7 game NCAA win streak against teams that aren't from Boston.

BC vs. Denver - Great offense vs. great goaltending. But BC's offense is too great to be fully stopped. Eagles win and advance to the finals.

Miami vs. BC - I think Miami will exorcise a lot of demons and win this one.

Monday, March 21, 2011


For the 10th time, the BC Eagles won the Hockey East tournament, grinding out a 5-3 win over Merrimack. Both BC and Merrimack were selected for the NCAA tournament, along with UNH. We'll have a preview of the NCAAs in the next few days.

What Jerry York and Boston College have done in the last decade has been nothing short of extraordinary. They've won 4 of the last 5 Hockey East tournaments. Since 2001, they've won 6 of these tournaments, 5 regular season titles, 5 Beanpots, made 9 NCAA appearances, 6 Frozen Fours, and won 3 national titles.

However, some of BC's weaknesses were thoroughly exposed by Northeastern and Merrimack this past weekend. Goalie John Muse has a stellar record, but he tends to over-commit just a tad. He's got a few small gaps that skilled shooters and lucky bounces can find. BC also struggle against physical teams like Northeastern that are able to keep the puck on the boards, and staple BC's skill players against the glass. BC's forwards aren't soft, but their strengths are in the middle of the ice. They hardly ever grind out physical goals.

Fortunately for BC, most of college hockey has tried to emulate them. It's about speed and skills. Very few teams can play 60 tough physical minutes. Even if they can, they then lack the requisite skill to score 3 or 4 goals to beat BC.

BC starts the NCAA tournament in St. Louis on Friday. They'll play Colorado College at 9.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The other March Madness continues in Boston as four teams remain in the Hockey East tourney. Two have NCAA at-large bids locked up, a third probably does, and the fourth needs to play their way in by winning twice this weekend. The semifinals start today at 5, and the finals are tomorrow at 7 (and I believe will be broadcast on NESN tape delayed).


A rematch of the Beanpot final. NU has played BC well this year. BC needed overtime in that 7-6 Beanpot game. Then they met a few days later and tied 7-7. Then Northeastern beat them 2-1. But it's hard to pick against BC in what I call "Trophy Games" (Beanpot, Hockey East tournament and NCAA tournament games). The Eagles have won 14 straight of those, dating back to March of 2009.

BC wins 6-4 in a close fought, high paced game.

Merrimack beat UNH twice, and are the upstart surprise of Hockey East. They've struggled on the road, but it will be interesting to see how they perform on neutral ice. UNH had a brilliant regular season, but they're sort of like the snow on the ground. Overwhelming in January and February. Melting away in March.

I think Merrimack wins 3-2.

And BC wins the final.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


The OTHER March Madness kicks off tonight and continues all weekend. Hockey East could send anywhere from 2 to perhaps 4 or 5 teams to the NCAA tournament. Regular season champs BC and runners up UNH are all but assured a spot in the 16 team NCAA field, while upstart Merrimack will likely join them. BU has an outside chance, and Maine are the long shots. Those bubble teams can make a difference in this tournament, and of course winning the tournament earns an automatic bid.

Here are the first round pairings. They'll play a best of 3 series at the superior seed's home rink. The winners will be re-seeded for the semifinals next weekend at The Garden in Boston.


BC wins trophies. Since 2007, they've won 2 National Championships, 3 Hockey East Tournament Championships, and 3 Beanpots. But this was the first time since 2005 that they've won the Hockey East regular season title. BC beat UMass three times this year, and are on a completely different level. They score 3.9 goals per game, and kill 87.6% of their penalties. BC should sweep this in 2.

UNH lost the regular season title to BC in the final weekend, and have a reputation for choking in March. Fortunately for them, Vermont is not a very good team. The Catamounts won 8 games all season. UNH beat them twice and tied them once. UNH sohuld handle them in 2 games.

BU needs to go deep in this tournament to make the NCAA field. To do that, they have to get past old rival Northeastern. These teams split a home-and-home last weekend, and all three of their games were determined by 1 goal margins. NU started the season poorly (1-7-3), but gradually turned things around. Northeastern struggled down the stretch, though they held their own against BC and UNH. Northeastern wins in 3 very close games.

At the moment, Merrimack would be in the NCAA tournament. But they can cement a spot by winning this series. They beat BC twice early in the season, they beat UNH twice in February. They also lost two blowout games to Maine. They're excellent at home (12-2-1), and mediocre on the road (10-6-3). Thankfully for them, this series will be in Andover. Merrimack will sweep this in 2.

That would set-up a semi-final of #1 BC vs. #6 Northeastern, and #2 UNH vs. #4 Merrimack. I'd take BC and Merrimack to win and meet in the finals, with BC taking the title.