Mass. College Hockey: Five Games To Watch This Weekend (Jan. 11-12)

Johnny Gaudreau and the No. 2 Boston College Eagles will face-off against No. 4 New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday! (Photo Credit: Hockey East)
Johnny Gaudreau and the No. 2 Boston College Eagles will face-off against No. 4 New Hampshire on Friday and Saturday! (Photo Credit: Hockey East)

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. 

34th Women’s Boston Beanpot Final: Northeastern 4, BU 3 (OT)

By Matt Noonan 

BOSTON, MA – One week ago, Northeastern clinched a spot in the 34th Boston Beanpot championship match when junior Brittnay Esposito notched a game-winning goal in a first round shoot out against Boston College.    

Then, a week after their dramatic win against the Eagles, Northeastern provided their fans with a fairy tale tournament ending when junior Casey Pickett netted a game-winning goal in overtime, which lifted the Huskies past Boston University, 4-3 at the Walter Brown Arena on Tuesday evening.

“As soon I got [the puck], I knew what I wanted to do with it, and I was confident that it was going in, so I guess that helped having confidence,” said an elated Pickett. “It’s a great feeling to know that you made your whole team happy, and I’m glad that I could do that for everyone.”

“It’s great,” said an exuberant Northeastern senior goaltender Florence Schelling, who ended the game with 43 saves between the pipes. “I’m so excited, I can’t even think about it.”

Pickett’s game winning goal was assisted by freshman line-mate Kendall Coyne, (one goal, one assist), who provided the Huskies with their first lead in the second period when she notched her 24th strike of the season past BU sophomore goaltender Kerrin Sperry, (25 saves).

The Huskies doubled their lead practically two minutes later when freshman Lucie Povova lit the lamp for the seventh time this year to give Northeastern a two-goal advantage.

BU answered literally eight minutes later when freshmen Shannon Stoneburgh and Kayla Tutino tied the game at 2-2.

Once the third period began, both teams ramped up the intensity, and combined for six penalties, which didn’t provide either squad with momentum until BU’s Tutino tallied the go-ahead goal with roughly five minutes left in regulation.

However, BU’s celebration was short lived, as Northeastern responded 33-seconds later when sophomore Sonia St. Martin scored the equalizer, which forced overtime, and another epic tournament finish.

“Once we got that goal right back, I had almost a sense of calm that we were going to win the game,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint. “The mood was great in the locker room after regulation going into overtime everyone was positive.”

“I thought that after the third, we had a lot of positive energy in the locker room,” said Pickett. “We bounced back after a late goal by BU, and kind of showed what we’re made of and I think that we all knew we had confidence in each other going into overtime, and we knew that we had it.”

Pickett exhibited some confidence following the face-off, as she recorded the game winner at 5:27 in the extra session after receiving a pass from Coyne, who stole the puck away from a few BU players at center ice.

“Obviously it was one of those goals that was real pretty, and real nice in the OT,” said BU head coach Brian Durocher. “It wasn’t just a fluke or something that fell out of the sky in the back of the net [because] it was a real good hockey play by two super hockey players.”

Northeastern hadn’t won a championship since they defeated Harvard University in 1998, and now has collected 15 Beanpot trophies, which is two more than the Crimson, and 14 more than the Terriers.

“I liked how our team battled,” said Flint. “I think earlier in the year, we might not have come back from [trailing, 3-2], but we’ve matured a lot as a team, and we have a group of girls that really believe in their selves.”