Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October

THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM BU vs. UNION

BU v Union

By: Dan Shulman

This past Saturday, the BU Men’s Ice Hockey Team lost its season opening game to Union, 5-3. It marked the first time since the start of the 2009-10 season that the Terriers dropped the season opener. Despite first career goals from Ryan Cloonan and Charlie McAvoy, the effort was not enough.

Here are three major takeaways from the game.

  • Defensive/Conditioning Letdown

The Terrier defense was one of the supposed bright spots for BU this season. However, allowing five goals against Union, albeit an offensive team, is not any way to open the season. The main problem was a shakeup of defensive pairings. Without Grzelcyk in the lineup for a while, the blue liners are going to have to find some way to pick up the slack.

Another big letdown was conditioning. The very method to BU’s success last season, the Terriers were hard to beat, especially in the third period. However, Union scored three times in the final twenty minutes on a very lackadaisical BU squad. It was difficult for BU to get the puck up ice at points in the third. Two strong points for the Terriers last year turned out to be haunting in the 2015-16 opener

  • Radically different offense without Eichel

The offense is missing its top scorers from last season. Until a new ace emerges, life without Jack Eichel will be tough. The team is much more balanced, however, with all four lines seeming dangerous as opposed to just the top two lines. The team has transformed from a speed team to a physical one. While goals will be harder to come by this year, the physical presence looks good enough to propel this team. One downside is that games will be a lot closer and the adapting period will be tough, but the fruits in the end should be promising.

  • Goaltending doubts still linger

Connor LaCouvee started the exhibition game against Acadia and was shaky at best. While Sean Maguire looked good in net against the Canadian powerhouse, he struggled immensely against Union. The first goal conceded was on the power play, but the rest were even strength goals. Whether it’s the defense or the goalie, opposing offenses must be shut down. And with no frontrunner for starting goalie emerging, the doubt over who is number one will linger for quite some time.

Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October

MEN’S ICE HOCKEY: PLAYER RATINGS VS. UNION

BU v Union

By: Dan Shulman

TOP – Doyle Somerby

GRADE: A-

STATS: +2, two assists

Somerby was seemingly the only positive for the blue liners on the night. He assisted on two goals, created numerous more scoring chances, got pucks to the net, and was solid defensively. He and fellow third line defender Shane Switzer held the Union offense in check, something the rest of the defense struggled with. Somerby also created a physical presence. Despite drawing a penalty, he was one of the only positives on an otherwise negative night.

BOTTOM – Brandon Hickey

GRADE: D

STATS: -3 on the night, no points, two shots

One of the most anticipated sophomores on the roster, Hickey was an opening night letdown. One of last year’s team leaders in shots, the Alberta-native mustered just two attempts on target for the night. He was held to zero points, a rarity for Hickey last season. And worst of all, his defensive line was on the ice for three Union goals, namely the game tying and go-ahead scores. It might be some rustiness, but the sophomore needs to shake it immediately.

SURPRISE – Bobo Carpenter

GRADE: B

STATS: +1, no penalties, first assist

Carpenter shined in his first collegiate game. Normally a goal scorer, the local product is adapting to his roll on the wing, and immediately made an impact by creating scoring chances. He assisted on the Matt Lane goal, stayed disciplined, moved the puck well, and had a plus rating. His impact on the ice was felt as Union were pressed every time Carpenter had the puck. The freshman is only going to get better, and it should be fun to watch him mature into a solid player.

Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October

TERRIERS OPEN REGULAR SEASON WITH TRIP TO UNION

BU v Union

By: Daniel Shulman

BU Men’s Ice Hockey vs. Union; Regular Season Game 1; Saturday October 10, 2015

ABOUT THE OPPONENT

Location – Schenectady, New York; Mascot – Dutchmen; Last Year’s Record – 19-18-2 (8-13-1 ECAC), 4-1-1 vs. Hockey East, 6-8-1 at home; Miscellany – Union began last season with five straight wins

PREVIEW

SCHENECTADY, New York — The Boston University Terriers Men’s Ice Hockey Team opens its regular season with a trip to the Messa Rink in Schenectady, New York to take on Union on Saturday.

This game will mark the second all-time meeting between BU and Union, with the first coming last January at Agganis Arena. The two sides played to a 3-3 draw as BU was without the services of Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel, who was playing at the World Junior Tournament.

The Union Dutchmen, 2014 National Champions, is a young and talented team. Despite a late season surge a year ago, the Dutchmen were dumped by Quinnipiac in the ECAC Quarterfinals and subsequently failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Union will open their 2015-16 regular season on October 9th when they host Sacred Heart.

The Dutchmen are led by junior forward Mike Vecchione, who recorded 50 points (19G, 31A) in his sophomore campaign. Meanwhile, on the blue line, junior Jeff Taylor returns to pace the defense and add an additional scoring touch.

In goal, Alex Sakellaropoulos, who played against BU last season, looks to be a denizen between the pipes for Union this season. Coming off his sophomore season, Sakellaropoulos played in 14 games last year, posting a 3.07 goals against average and a .894 save percentage.

The Terriers will hope to record their first win of the season against the Dutchmen. With the loss of Jack Eichel, BU will hope to find a similar spark for the new campaign.

Last weekend, BU dispatched Canadian heavyweight Acadia 4-2. Freshman Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson scored twice to in the third period to lift the Terriers over the Axemen.

In addition to Karlsson, the defense looked solid, despite allowing two goals early in the first period. Returning all six starters from last season with the addition of two freshman, the blue line looks to be the deepest asset of the team.

BU is looking to start their season on a high note before Hockey East play begins.

PREDICTION

BU wins 5-3 – The Terriers will have their struggles with the Union offense, but should provide some firepower of their own. The game could also feature a plethora of power play goals.

BU’s THREE KEYS TO THE GAME

  1. Stay out of the penalty box, make them take the penalties
    • Union 19.7% power play was among the top units in the ECAC
    • Their 80.3% penalty kill last season was one of the lowest in the conference
  2. Test Sakellaropoulos
    • The goalie was shaky last season, put pucks on net often
  3. Take an early lead
    • Union struggled to play from behind, going 3-10-1 when trailing after a period

Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October

BU MEN’S ICE HOCKEY DEPTH CHART PROJECTIONS

By: Daniel Shulman

NOTE: THESE ARE PROJECTIONS OF THE BU MEN’S ICE HOCKEY DEPTH CHART

Forwards

  1. Matt Lane               Danny O’Regan                Ahti Oksanen
  2. A. J. Greer              Robbie Baillargeon          Jordan Greenway
  3. Nikolas Olsson      Mike Moran                       Nick Roberto
  4. Chase Phelps         Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson  Bobo Carpenter
  1. Tommy Kelley      Ryan Cloonan                    Dillon Lawrence

With the loss of Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues, the two top scorers from a year ago, the first line is in desperate need of repair. Danny O’Regan will head the first unit at center, leading the team with a 56.4% success rate at the face-off dot. On the wings will be Ahti Oksanen and Matt Lane. Oksanen spent the first half of last season on the first line while Lane was a mainstay on the second line. With Lane’s speed and ability to skate to the net, he may earn himself a spot on line one along with Oksanen.

Line two will see Robbie Baillargeon at center with upstart sophomore AJ Greer and freshman Jordan Greenway on the wings. Greer came on late last year, earning the starting job over J.J. Piccinich and eventually, his promotion to the second line. Greenway joins from the U.S. Under-18 Team where he recorded nine goals and 35 assists in 53 games.

The third line will be the physical unit, with Mike Moran at center joined by Nikolas Olsson and Nick Roberto on the wings. Moran enjoyed a 49.2% success rate in the face-off circle last season, tallying four goals in the process. Olsson had an injury plagued season last year, registering just 11 points. Roberto played in every game last season, registering 12 points.

Line four will feature two freshmen and a sophomore. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson will be centering a line with Bobo Carpenter and Chase Phelps. Phelps was a mainstay on the fourth line last season, registering two goals and two assists. Phelps has had a good preseason thus far and looks poised to break out in 2015-16. On the other side, Carpenter is a promising local recruit who registered 63 points in 60 games last season with Sioux City of the USHL.

The reserves are juniors Tommy Kelley, walk-on Dillon Lawrence, and freshman Ryan Cloonan. Cloonan registered 65 points last season with the Boston Jr. Bruins, including 21 on the power play. Although he is projected to be in the reserves, it may only be a matter of time before Cloonan breaks through into the starting lineup.

Defense

  1. Brandon Hickey           John MacLeod
  2. Doyle Somerby             Charlie McAvoy
  3. Brien Diffley                 Brandon Fortunato
  1. Matt Grzelcyk (inj.)   Shane Switzer

With no departing defensemen from last year’s squad, the blue line unit will remain pretty much the same, with the exception of two changes. On line two, freshman Charlie McAvoy comes in to replace Brandon Fortunato. Despite being the first Terrier to go unpenalized in a season since Jack Parker played, Fortunato has had trouble with puck distribution in his own defensive zone. McAvoy and Fortunato could likely switch off until one earns the job permanently. Fortunato could also factor as a seventh defensemen dressed on the fourth forward line.

Matt Grzelcyk remains sidelined with a knee injury for which he received surgery over the offseason. There is no set timetable for his return, but when he comes back, he will likely reclaim his position on the top defensive line.

New recruit Shane Switzer also joins the defensive unit. The 6’2” player known for his passing abilities, he collected 41 points in 60 AJHL games last season, and will definitely see some ice time despite a stacked blue line.

Goaltending

  1. Sean Maguire
  2. Connor LaCouvee
  3. Max Prawdzik

With three goaltenders on the roster, Sean Maguire looks to be an early frontrunner for the starting job, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ends up splitting the time toward the end of the season with LaCouvee. The senior who missed all of last season with a concussion, Maguire returns to action in 2015-16. He split the duties with Matt O’Connor in 2013-14, going 3-12-0 with a 2.90 goals against average and a 0.919 save percentage. Maguire has proven himself to be a solid goaltender, and despite the poor record two years ago, he has an entirely new defense in front of him.

Sophomore Connor LaCouvee went 3-4-1 last season, only getting six starting nods. He posted a 0.913 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average during that time. LaCouvee, with the help of the Terriers’ strong defense and the experience he gained last season, looks poised to be the Terriers’ number one goalie in the future, maybe as early as this season if Maguire falters.

At third string, freshman Max Prawdzik adds depth to a position that is certainly lacking. Prawdzik was the 2015 Massachusetts Independent School League MVP. He led the Brooks school to the New England Prep Large School Championship with a 1.25 GAA and a .944 save percentage. Prawdzik is an impressive recruit and looks poised to compete with LaCouvee for the starting job over the next few years.

Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October

Q & A: BU MEN’S ICE HOCKEY ALTERNATE CAPTAINS MATT LANE, DANNY O’REGAN

By: Daniel Shulman

BOSTON – September 21, 2015 marked the beginning of the college hockey season with Hockey East Media Day. All 12 teams were represented by coaches and players at the event. WTBU had the chance to sit down with Boston University seniors Danny O’Regan and Matt Lane from the Men’s Ice Hockey team. The two provided insight into how preseason practices are going and ways BU will be improved in 2015-16.

Q: So first off, you guys are coming off a really tough loss last season in the Frozen Four. How do guys feel this offseason and how is your conditioning going? You guys ready?

A: Danny O’Regan – Yeah definitely. It was a tough loss last year but we tried to just put it behind us and had a good offseason. Everyone’s been working hard so we’re excited to start the year.

Matt Lane – Yeah I would say the same thing. You know despite the loss, we had a lot of success and have things that we can take out of it but other than that, we’re going to put that behind us and just focus on this year.

Q: Now you lost Jack Eichel, Cason Hohman, and Evan Rodrigues from last season. How do you plan to replace the leadership that those three personified?

A: O’Regan – I think we’ve been able to replace them pretty well. They’re all great players and great guys who are tough to replace but I think we got a lot of guys on our team this year who are going to step up and take on leadership roles and scoring roles

Lane – Basically, we had a lot of freshmen last year and now everybody’s in their second year. So everybody is more accountable to elevate their game one more notch although we lost a few good players we still got a lot of good guys coming in and a lot of returning players too.

Q: A lot of the talk this offseason has been about losing Eichel. But you do have a lot of talented guys coming in. Have you had a chance to look at their game and talk to them at all?

A: O’Regan – Yeah we’ve been able to skate with them for the past couple weeks and you’re right, it’s a really talented group and I think all seven freshmen have a lot of skill and will be able to be effective players for us this season.

Lane – I agree. We’ve been skating these past couple weeks and the freshmen have been getting out there. They’re all coming from great programs and our coaches do such a great job with recruiting so there’s no doubt in our minds that we got a good class coming in and they’ll be big contributors on this year’s team.

Q: It’s not just BU that has a good recruiting class, it’s the whole Hockey East. How do you think that the league’s going to be as compared to last year? Tougher or a similar challenge?

A: O’Regan – I think our league proved that it was really strong. We haven’t really focused on too many other recruiting classes or anything like that but I mean every year it’s always a battle between all of the teams so I think we’re looking forward to the same thing.

Lane – We talked about it earlier with some of the other guys and we’re not really worried about what other teams are doing or who other teams have necessarily, more about how we’re going to win and how are guys are going to develop. And like we said, we feel like we brought in a good class so that should definitely be a huge advantage for this year.

The new season certainly has some bright prospects. With the team feeling confident, this season could be better than the last. The first exhibition game will be on Saturday October 3rd at 4:00 p.m. in Agganis Arena against Acadia University.

Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October 2015

WTBU HOCKEY EAST PRESEASON PROJECTIONS

By: Dan Shulman

Preseason MVP – Kevin Roy, Northeastern University

Preseason Rookie of the Year – Jeremy Bracco, Boston College

Preseason Goalie of the Year – Cal Petersen, Notre Dame

Conference Tournament Winner Prediction – Boston College def. Notre Dame in the HE Final

Projected Standings:

  1. BOSTON UNIVERSITY
    • Head Coach: David Quinn (2 seasons – 38-29-9)
    • Home Arena: Agganis Arena – Boston, MA
    • Last Year: 28-8-5 (14-5-3) 1st in Hockey East, HE Tournament Champions, National Runner Up
    • Strengths: defense, experience, ability to compete late in games, power play
    • Concerns: loss of Eichel/Rodrigues, goaltending
    • Players to Watch: Matt Grzelcyk, Danny O’Regan
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: at Notre Dame, February 26-27
      • Non-Conference: at Yale, December 11; at Quinnipiac, December 12
    • Outlook: After winning the Hockey East Regular Season and Tournament trophies, the Boston University Terriers fell tragically at the hands of Providence in the National Championship game. With the loss of Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues, two top scorers and emerging leaders, getting back to that plateau will be difficult, but still very possible, especially with the experience the Terriers garnered over last season’s magical run. Captain Matt Grzelcyk returns for his senior season, anchoring a BU defense that sees everyone returning from last season, with the addition of freshman Charlie McAvoy. The Terriers strongest asset is their ability to shut teams down and compete late in games. When leading after two periods last season, BU was 19-1-0, only losing in the National Championship game. The Terrier power play unit was also immense last season, converting an astounding 26.1% of the time. One big question mark coming into the season is goaltending. With the departure of Matt O’Connor, Sean Maguire returns to the crease after missing 2014-15 with concussion issues. Whether Maguire will be able to return to full strength will be a big doubt. Backup and sophomore Connor LaCouvee had a decent first year, but is still not ready to assume full duties. If the Terrier offense can find its touch and Maguire can return strong, BU could match last season’s output and return to glory.
  2. Boston College
    • Head Coach: Jerry York (43 seasons – 984-591-105)
    • Home Arena: Conte Forum – Chestnut Hill, MA
    • Last Year: 21-14-3 (12-7-3) 3rd in Hockey East, NCAA Tournament berth
    • Strengths: leadership, goaltending, recruiting class
    • Concerns: depth
    • Players to Watch: Ryan Fitzgerald, Alex Tuch
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: vs. Providence, January 8-9; vs. BU, January 15-16
      • Non-Conference: at Colorado College, October 23-24
    • Outlook: Failing to make it past the quarterfinals of Hockey East for the second straight season, the Boston College Eagles are set for an impressive 2015-16. With Jerry York, perhaps the best coach in college hockey, behind the bench, the Eagles have a strong leadership core with the knowledge to bring the team to the championship level. In net, Thatcher Demko returns after allowing 2.19 goals per game and recording a 0.925 save percentage a year ago. In terms of recruiting, the Eagles have possibly the best freshman class in the nation. Forwards Jeremy Bracco, Colin White, Chris Brown, Joey Dudek, and Miles Wood all enter their first seasons at BC, all poised to be rookie of the year candidates. Defensively, Casey Fitzgerald and Josh Couturier will fill the voids left by Mike Matheson and Noah Hanifin. One big concern for BC is depth. During the World Junior Tournament, there are always a myriad of BC players selected which, albeit an honor, leave the Eagles severely shorthanded. With injuries during this time, the Eagles will be thinned and have trouble dressing 20 players a night. If the highly touted freshman class can produce, the Eagles, coming off the holiday break and World Junior Tournament, could make an unstoppable run for the National Title as they have done in years prior.
  3.  Providence
    • Head Coach: Nate Leaman (12 seasons – 217-185-54)
    • Home Arena: Schneider Arena – Providence, RI
    • Last Year: 26-13-2 (13-8-1) 2nd in Hockey East, National Champions
    • Strengths: defending champions, offense, experience
    • Concerns: goaltending
    • Players to Watch: Trevor Mingoia, Nick Saracino
    • Important Games:
      • Conference – vs. BU, November 13-14
      • Non Conference – at. Miami (OH), October 9-10
    • Outlook: Returning to the ice as the reigning National Champions for the first time in school history, the Friars look poised to add to their impressive resume. With all but five starters returning, Providence could very well form a dynasty. On offense, Mark Jankowski, Trevor Mingoia, and Nick Saracino return, combining for 37 goals and 59 assists last year. The experience that the Friars gained last season will contribute to improvements in their playing style this year. One big issue is goaltending. With John Gillies leaving for the greener pastures of the NHL, Nick Ellis is the likely choice to start. In his career, Ellis has played in 12 games, posting a 2.31 goals against average and a 0.907 save percentage. Ellis will be the denizen between the pipes for the Friars with some pretty big skates to fill following Gillies’ league leading 2.01 GAA a year ago. With strong goaltending, the Friars have the experience and skill to make another run at the National Championship crown.
  4.  UMass-Lowell
    • Head Coach: Norm Bazin (7 seasons – 137-78-18)
    • Home Arena: Tsongas Center – Lowell, MA
    • Last season: 21-12-6 (11-7-4) 4th in Hockey East, HE Tournament Runner Up
    • Strengths: losing just three starters from last year, offense, goaltending, discipline
    • Concerns: size, young defense
    • Players to Watch: Adam Chapie, CJ Smith
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: vs. BC, February 26-27
      • Non-Conference: at Minnesota-Duluth, October 30-31
    • Outlook: Falling in the Hockey East championship game last season, the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks hope to avenge their NCAA Tournament snubbing with an impressive 2015-16. With all but three starters back on the roster, the Riverhawks will certainly be a tough opponent this season. Offensively, top scorers CJ Smith and Adam Chapie return after combining for 66 points last year. In goal, senior Kevin Boyle will likely start, after his 2.42 goals against and 0.915 save percentage campaign in 2014-15. Discipline-wise, UML is one of the sharpest in the country, only taking 327 penalty minutes in 39 games last season. One reason for such discipline is stature. The Riverhawks are one of the smallest teams in Hockey East, and can be easily out played in a physical battle. Also, without a senior on defense, there is some doubt to who will take the helm and lead an inexperienced defensive unit. With Boyle in net, a strong offensive attack, and a disciplined approach, the Riverhawks could be a serious threat down the stretch if the defense can prove themselves.
  5.  Northeastern
    • Head Coach: Jim Madigan (4 seasons – 57-67-17)
    • Home Arena: Matthews Arena – Boston, MA
    • Last Season: 16-16-4 (11-9-2) 6th in Hockey East
    • Strengths: top scoring all returns, defense, power play
    • Concerns: goaltending, penalty kill
    • Players to Watch: Dalen Hedges, Kevin Roy
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: vs. BC, December 5-6
      • Non-Conference: at Minnesota, October 23-24
    • Outlook: Following a 0-8-1 start to the season last year, the Northeastern Huskies will hope to get off to a much better start in 2015-16. Much of the defensive starting lineup from last year returns, hoping to improve on last year’s 107 goals allowed. On the other side of the puck, the highly touted Anaheim Ducks recruit Kevin Roy returns for his senior year to lead a prolific offense. All of last year’s power play unit returns as well, after averaging a 20.7% success rate. On the flip side, the Huskies’ penalty kill needs improving from last season, working at 73.8%, the worst in Hockey East. Goaltending is also a big doubt this season following the departure of Clay Witt. Derick Roy will guard the cage this year for Northeastern. After going 5-6-2 with a .908 save percentage last season, Roy will carry much of the load in net this year. Things are looking up for the Huskies this season, as the veteran team looks to make one final push towards a Hockey East crown.
  6. Notre Dame
    • Head Coach: Jeff Jackson (16 seasons – 408-196-65)
    • Home Arena: Compton Family Ice Arena – South Bend, IN
    • Last season: 18-19-5 (10-7-5) 5th in Hockey East
    • Strengths: goaltending, home-ice advantage, offense
    • Concerns: long travels, defense
    • Players to Watch: Thomas DiPauli, Mario Lucia
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: at Providence, February 19-20
      • Non-Conference: at Denver, January 1-2
    • Outlook: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, after falling to UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East Playoffs, return energized and ready to contend for a Hockey East title. Goaltender Cal Petersen looks to have won the starting job again, posting a 2.51 goals against average and a 0.919 save percentage last year. Offensively, despite the loss of top point-getters Vince Hinostroza and Robbie Russo, the Fighting Irish present a potent scoring attack, with Thomas DiPauli and Mario Lucia leading the forwards. Another big strength for Notre Dame is their home advantage. The only team in Hockey East which air travel is required to visit, the long travel to Notre Dame can prove troublesome for opponents, and the hostile environment is one of the reasons why the Fighting Irish are so tough to beat. On the other hand, Notre Dame must also endure long road trips every other weekend, which makes stringing wins together difficult. Defensively, there are also doubts. Allowing 116 goals last season, third worst in Hockey East, Notre Dame struggled to keep opposing offenses in check. This season will be much like the last for Notre Dame, who will need to sharpen up defensively in order to compete for the Hockey East title.
  7. New Hampshire
    • Head Coach: Dick Umile (25 seasons – 560-313-97)
    • Home Arena: Whittemore Center – Durham, NH
    • Last Season: 19-19-2 (10-11-1) 8th in Hockey East, HE Tournament Semifinalist
    • Strengths: depth, chemistry, defense
    • Concerns: loss of top scorers, goaltending
    • Players to Watch: Andre Poturalski, Matias Cleland
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: at Providence, January 29-30
      • Non-Conference: at Michigan State, November 6-7
    • Outlook: The New Hampshire Wildcats enter 2015-16 hoping to match the successes from last season, including upsetting eventual National Champions Providence in the Hockey East playoffs before being eliminated by National Runner-Up Boston University in the semifinals. The Wildcats return this season, like always, with a deep roster. All regular defensive starters from last season return, after allowing 2.73 goals per game in 2014-15. The overall team chemistry of UNH is perhaps the biggest strength. Much of the Wildcats team has returned from last season and are used to playing with one another. Some trepidations going into the new season include the loss of three top goal scorers. Casey Thrush, Matt Willows, and Grayson Downing have all graduated. Together, the trio accounted for 46 of UNH’s 119 goals last year along with close to 25% of the assists. This is a huge loss for the Wildcats who now must fill the void left behind by the senior class. Goaltending is also a concern. Sophomores Danny Tirone and Adam Clark split the duty last year due to Tirone’s ineligibility in the fall, which lead to New Hampshire’s 0.909 save percentage and a 2.54 goals against average. The Wildcats’ chemistry and depth have paved the way for a strong defense. But with a gaping hole in the offense along with doubts of who to start at goaltender, UNH must find their scoring touch and a denizen between the pipes in order to contend again this season.
  8.  Vermont
    • Head Coach: Kevin Sneddon (17 seasons – 239-303-78)
    • Home Arena: Gutterson Fieldhouse – Burlington, VT
    • Last Season: 22-15-4 (10-9-3) 7th in Hockey East, HE Tournament Semifinalist
    • Strengths: depth, veteran defense
    • Concerns: goaltending doubts, inexperience
    • Players to Watch: Brady Shaw, Alexx Privitera
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: vs. Providence, January 15-16
      • Non-Conference: vs. North Dakota, October 23-24; vs. Nebraska-Omaha, October 16-17
    • Outlook: After making a run to the Hockey East tournament semifinals last year, the Vermont Catamounts have kept the belief that they can get even further in 2015-16. With the return of veteran forward Brady Shaw and two-way defensemen Alexx Privitera, the Catamounts’ offense, albeit young, is hoping to be sparked by two of last season’s leading point-getters. Defensively, Vermont is looking strong, with seven veterans returning and five solid recruits coming in. Such depth at defense can be important for making late season tournament runs. However, with so many new recruits comes a lack of experience. The Catamounts have 17 new freshmen on the roster for this season, and while there are certainly no worries about having enough players to field a team, there is some doubt with the young roster and the difficulty they will have adapting to the very tough Hockey East. There are also issues with goaltending. Following the departure of Brody Hoffman, Mike Santaguida, who was benched in the middle of last season, looks poised to start for Vermont, despite obvious doubts in his abilities. If the goaltending troubles from last year haunt Vermont again, it could make for a long season, especially with such a young team.
  9.  Merrimack
    • Head Coach: Mark Dennehy (11 seasons – 131-215-46)
    • Home Arena: J. Thom Lawler Arena – North Andover, MA
    • Last Season: 16-18-4 (5-14-3) 11th in Hockey East
    • Strengths: offense, penalty kill, defense
    • Concerns: goaltending, discipline
    • Players to Watch: Hampus Gustafsson, Brett Seney
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: at Maine, February 19-20
      • Non-Conference: at Cornell, January 8-9
    • Outlook: The dark horse of Hockey East, Merrimack returns following a late collapse and playoff ousting last season at the hands of Boston University. Merrimack returns its four top scorers from last season. Offensively, the Warriors will be led by the highly touted Hampus Gustafsson. Gustafsson is joined by Brett Seney and Jace Henig on what may be one of the most potent forward lines in Hockey East. Defensively, all but one starter returns from last season, when the defense averaged 2.45 goals against per game. The penalty kill is maybe the Warriors strongest facet of play, killing 88.2% of power plays in 2014-15. However, discipline remains an issue for Merrimack, who registered a league-leading 558 penalty minutes last year. Another concern for the Warriors is goaltending. With the departure of Rasmus Tirronen, Collin Delia steps in between the pipes for the Warriors. In nine games last year, he posted a 1.86 goals against average and a .937 save percentage. With Delia carrying the full weight of playing time, there is doubt whether he will continue with these impressive numbers. If Delia can do so, Merrimack, with its strong offense, could be a serious contender, but there are still some doubts.
  10.  Maine
    • Head Coach: Red Gendron (2 seasons – 30-37-7)
    • Home Arena: Alfond Arena – Orono, ME
    • Last Season: 14-22-3 (8-12-2) 10th in Hockey East
    • Strengths: goaltending, speed
    • Concerns: lack of depth, inexperience, power play
    • Players to Watch: Steven Swavely, Blaine Byron
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: vs. Providence, February 5-6; at Notre Dame, February 12-13
      • Non-Conference: at Union, October 16-17
    • Outlook: The Maine Black Bears, coming off a disappointing 2014-15 that ended with a playoff defeat to Vermont, are poised to improve from last season. A young and inexperienced team, the definite strength of this team though is their speed. One of the fastest teams in Hockey East, opponents struggle to keep up with Maine skaters. A huge weakness of Maine is their power play unit, converting 13.7% of the time. There is also a lack of depth on offense, with only 10 veteran forwards and five incoming freshmen. Only three offensive reserves can spell trouble, especially if injuries start to compile. Maine will not only need to stay healthy, but must hope for solid performances by their goaltenders in order to win games. Alternating last year between Matt Morris and Sean Romeo, the two will be tasked with keeping the Black Bears in games. Together, the tandem average 3.00 goals against in their career, and although they are two solid choices for netminders, they will have to improve those numbers if Maine wants a shot at being a force in the Hockey East.
  11.  Connecticut
    • Head Coach: Mike Cavanaugh (2 seasons – 28-33-11)
    • Home Arena: XL Center – Storrs, CT
    • Last Season: 10-19-7 (7-11-4) 9th in Hockey East
    • Strengths: chemistry, goaltending
    • Concerns: ability to score, power play, defense
    • Players to Watch: Kasperi Ojantakanen, Spencer Naas
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: vs. BU, October 24/27
      • Non-Conference: at Alabama-Huntsville, October 9-10
    • Outlook: UConn’s inaugural season in Hockey East ended with a loss to UNH in the conference playoffs. This season, with minimal players lost, the Huskies return with good team chemistry in hopes to establish themselves as a permanent contender in Hockey East. Junior netminder Rob Nichols returns to the goal, following his 1000 save season in 2014-15. Defensively, the Huskies were -45 in scoring, allowing an average of 3.08 goals per game. Scoring was a problem as well, only registering 66 goals last year, the worst in Hockey East. Another thing that needs improvement is the power play, which last year had a 10.5% success rates, one of the worst in the nation. The season ahead for UConn will be difficult if the offense can’t find its spark.
  12.  UMass-Amherst
    • Head Coach: John Micheletto (3 seasons – 31-64-9)
    • Home Arena: Mullins Center – Amherst, MA
    • Last Season: 11-23-2 (5-16-1) 12th in Hockey East
    • Strengths: return of top scorers, goaltending
    • Concerns: defense, discipline, penalty kill
    • Players to Watch: Dennis Kravchenko, Steven Iacobellis
    • Important Games:
      • Conference: at Notre Dame, December 4-5
      • Non-Conference: vs. Quinnipiac, November 27-28
    • Outlook: Following a dismal 2014-15 campaign, the Minutemen seem to ultimately be heading toward a similar fate this season. Last year ended with a record-setting playoff series loss at Notre Dame, in which UMass won game one in five overtime before being trounced in the next two games. Last season’s top scorer Dennis Kravchenko returns along with Steven Iacobellis, hoping to ignite the offense. Sophomore goaltender Henry Dill, who got the lion’s share of the time last year, also returns this season. Defensively, the Minutemen return most of their starters from last year, but there is cause for concern after allowing 4.22 goals per game in 2014-15. UMass also took 489 PIM last year, and didn’t help themselves with a 76% penalty kill. It will be a tough year for the Minutemen if they don’t improve defensively.

Hockey Beat Articles – Month of October 2015

BU MEN’S ICE HOCKEY OPENS PRESEASON AGAINST ACADIA SATUDAY

By: Dan Shulman

About the Opponent:

Location – Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Competes in Canada Interuniversity Sport (CIS) in the Atlantic University Sport subdivision

Mascot – Axemen

Last Year’s Record – 20-5-3; finished 3rd in the CIS Final Poll

Preview:

BOSTON — The Boston University Terriers Men’s Ice Hockey team opens its season with an exhibition game and first ever matchup against Acadia University of Canada. The Terriers won their opening exhibition game last year over St. Thomas, by a record final margin of 12-1.

Acadia, in the midst of their preseason, will play BU and Vermont before starting their regular season next weekend against St. Francis Xavier.

The Axemen finished third overall in Canada last season, including second place honors in the very difficult Atlantic Division to Canada’s second-ranked team New Brunswick. Acadia then fell to University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres in the Canadian Championship Tournament.

Acadia played two games against NCAA opponents last year as part of their preseason. The Axemen traveled to Hamden, Connecticut to face ECAC powerhouse Quinnipiac, easily dispatching the Bobcats 4-1, despite falling behind early.

The next night, the Axemen visited Northeastern University and again, fought off an early lead by the Huskies to win, 3-2.

Some key players to watch for Acadia include Brett Thompson and Mike Cazzola, who led Acadia in points last season combining for 70 points in 28 games. Last season’s plus/minus leader Boston Leier also returns following his successful freshman campaign where he registered 18 points and finished +12 on the season. Goaltender Brandon Glover also returns for his junior season, coming off .906 save percentage and 2.49 goals against average a year ago.

The Terriers will debut some of their brand new freshmen recruits, including forwards Jordan Greenway and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, along with defender Charlie McAvoy.

Prediction:

Boston University wins 4-3 – it will be a close game throughout, but with BU’s experience and pace, they should outlast their elite Canadian opponents.

Terriers’ Keys to the Game:

  1. Stay out of the penalty box – 20.9% power play last season for Acadia
  2. Solid performances all around – Especially with players fighting for a starting job
  3. Get shots on goal – Poor save percentages and a 2.69 team GAA last season cost the Axemen