Weekend Preview

#9 New Hampshire Wildcats 4-0-1 (2-0-1) T-3rd Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-0 (0-3-0) T-9th Hockey East

Coming into the Mullins Center on Friday night will be a one of the hottest teams in college hockey so far this season in the form of the UNH Wildcats.  They’ve yet to lose a game.  They’ve beaten BU, swept St Cloud out west, and beaten Northeastern in addition to tying the Huskies in Boston last week.  The Cats are tops among Hockey East teams in terms of offense and defense early on in this season.

UNH is scoring almost three and a half goals a game.  That production is coming from both their forward and defensive positions.  At forward seniors John Henrion and Austin Block have gotten the job done with three goals apiece in UNH’s five games this season.  They’ve gotten help from the likes of juniors Nick Sorkin, Dalton Speelman, and Kevin Goumas who have all contributed to the Wildcat offense.  However they’ve also gotten good production from the blueline as well as defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk has three goals thus far while Connor Hardowa has a team high six assists.

Obviously their production has helped Van Riemsdyk and Hardowa put up impressive numbers overall on the Wildcat defense, but really sophomore Casey DeSmith has had the most impact for UNH.  DeSmith so far has a save percentage of .931 to go with a stingy goals against average of 1.77.

I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be a huge challenge for the Minutemen to find a way to beat this UNH team.  That seems a little strange coming off of games against Boston College and Boston University but but UNH seem to be playing great hockey in all phases during this early phase of the season and is a little more seasoned than the Eagles and the Terriers.

Therefore, it’s that much more important that UMass leverage the advantages it’s afforded in these games.  To me, those appear to be experience and home ice.  Experience is something that the Wildcats have, as everyone I’ve mentioned above except DeSmith and Van Riemsdyk are upperclassmen.  Yet, UMass can equal or surpass that experience with a fellow sophomore goaltender and the immense junior class which is supplemented by the leadership from this year’s seniors.  The other advantage as mentioned should be the crowd.  Through the first three games of the season the Mullins has been filled with three crowds greater than 7,000 fans.  That’s never happened in the history of UMass hockey.  So far that support and energy has only been able to help UMass to a win over lowly UConn, but assuming they have a similar crowd on Friday it’d be nice to see UMass let the crowd carry them through to the end of the game with a W.

 

Massachusetts Minutemen 1-3-0 (0-3-0) T-9th Hockey East

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#1 Boston College Eagles 4-1-0 (4-1-0) 1st Hockey East

Really, there’s not much to say in previewing UMass’ rematch with the Eagles.  Two weeks ago the Minutemen dominated the defending national champions for two full periods.  Going into the third period of the game two Fridays ago UMass had these guys beat.  Then, due to fatigue, lack of concentration, or disparity of talent, they failed to finish the job.  By the end of the third it was tied and in overtime BC’s Johnny Gaudreau grabbed a goal to give BC the game.  On one side I want the UMass team to look back upon that game to fill them with confidence that they can not only skate with a good team but outskate them.  But at the same time I want them to be out for revenge for the earlier loss the suffered at the hands of the Eagles.

BC has been led so far by the captain Pat Mullane, who had two goals to go with an assist against the Minutemen.  In total on the season he has three goals to go with five assists.  Johnny Gaudreau, the hero of the game against UMass, has continued his production with three goals and four assists.  Talented forwards Steven Whitney and Kevin Hayes join Mullane and Gaudreau with three goals apiece.

Helped by senior goaltender Parker Milner, the young but talented defense of BC has held up well.  BC has only allowed two goals a game on the season which is second best next to UNH.  Considering half of the defensive corps are made up of freshmen, that’s a pretty impressive stat.  In the game against UMass I thought Michael Matheson looked the best out of their freshman blueliners.  Matheson is a +4 on the season, tied with Patrick Wey for tops on the BC team for defensemen.  Milner has looked excellent thus far with a goals against of 1.98 and save percentage of .931%.

Hopefully UMass will use their last second loss to the Eagles a couple weeks back as motivation on Sunday.  It won’t be easy though.  UMass has not won at Chestnut Hill since fall of 2007.  We’ll see if that streak can end on Sunday.

Beer The Triangle
After a couple weeks away I’ll be happy to see what the Hangar has on the draft list tomorrow.  A rare Sunday afternoon game at Boston College likely means a trip to the Publick House.  Unfortunately their website is down so I have no idea what to expect when I get there.

UMass is not dwelling on the past according to the Republican’s preview of tomorrow.

The Gazette has a profile on Darren Rowe and the second chance he’s gotten in this his senior year.

Here’s a look at the weekend in Hockey East according to College Hockey News.

Hockey East is supposedly trying to address diving in the conference.  Good luck with that when it’s some of its highest profile teams that are the worst offenders when it comes to embellishment.  I’m going to guess that nothing happens.

Future regional sites were announced by the NCAA.

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