By Matt Noonan
It’s the second Friday of 2013, and below are some intriguing hockey matchups to watch this this weekend in the college hockey world. I will be at Maine-Northeastern this evening, which should be an intriguing match, but here are five games I’ll be watching:
Men’s Ice Hockey
Boston College vs. New Hampshire (Friday/Saturday) – This is probably the marquee matchup of the weekend, as the top two men’s Hockey East squad’s face-off in Chestnut Hill on Friday and Durham on Saturday. New Hampshire’s Austin Block has scored 10 goals this season, but hasn’t found the back of the net in 2013. Johnny Gaudreau is back from his short stint with Team U.S.A., which won the world junior championship in Russia recently, and will look to provide the Eagles with spark against the fourth ranked Wildcats. PREDICTION: My guess is that both teams split this weekend series. Obviously, Gaudreau’s return will ignite Boston College and their fans, but something tells me that New Hampshire will lose on Friday, but win at home on Saturday.
Boston University at Merrimack College (Friday) – The Warriors have been playing some decent hockey as of recently, while the Terriers are coming off a depressing 6-5 overtime loss to Harvard this past week. Can Jack Parker’s boys turn things around? We’ll see! Prediction: The Terriers loss to the Crimson was obviously a shocker, so it will be interesting to see if Boston University can rebound in a critical conference game. Merrimack is 2-1-1 in their last four games and coming off a 4-1 win against Vermont.
UMass Boston at Norwich University (Friday) – The Beacons have certainly been a pleasant surprise this season and haven’t appeared in the loss column since losing by one goal to Castleton State in November. Six different Beacons found the back of the net in their last contest against Johnson & Wales, while their penalty-kill helped them earn their ninth win of the season. UMass Boston is riding a seven-game winning streak, while Norwich is 1-1 in their last two games. Prediction: I have always been a fan of the underdog and would love to see UMass Boston somehow provide the top team in Division III with its second loss. If the Beacons play smart, fundamental hockey, they should be able to keep things close with the Cadets. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle Thomas or Pier-Olivier Cotnoir powers Norwich to their 13th win of the season.
Women’s Ice Hockey
Cornell University at Northeastern University (Saturday) – You couldn’t ask for a better afternoon matinee between two solid clubs. The Huskies are coming off an upsetting loss to Boston College and have seesawed in the win and loss column over the past few weeks. However, a win against the Big Red would be huge for Dave Flint’s squad. Cornell hasn’t skated since December, which could bode well for the Huskies. Prediction: This is a critical game for Northeastern. Cornell is 10-3 and 1-1 against the Hockey East. If the Huskies can somehow score early and maintain their momentum, then expect Northeastern to earn their sixth win of the season.
Amherst College at Middlebury College (Friday and Saturday) – For the second straight week, the Panthers remain the third best team in women’s Division III hockey. Middlebury currently remains the top squad in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) too, but right behind them is Amherst College, a squad that’s won four straight. Both teams have won five conference games this season, but the Lord Jeffs four losses in 2012 seem to be a thing of the past. Amherst’s Geneva Lloyd was named this week’s NESCAC Women’s Hockey Player of the Week following her two goal, four assist night against Colby College last weekend, which made her the seventh player in program history to tally 100 career points. Prediction: The Jeffs have won four of their last five contests and know two losses could hurt their chances of a conference crown. I think both teams split the series. Middlebury has only one loss this season, which came against Plattsburgh State in November.