Our picks for the first round of the Hockey East Tournament

Feels a bit weird to have a weekend without any BU hockey to cover. To fill that void, we’ll still be keeping an eye on some of the first-round matchups of the Hockey East Tournament while BU enjoys a bye weekend. We’ve listed our picks for who will win each series below. We didn’t differ too much except for one set of games:

UMass Amherst vs. Notre Dame

Andrew: Notre Dame. It’s hard to see an upset for this one. The Minutemen only have 10 wins this season and come into this series losing three of the last four. Having the league’s worst defense and the second-worst penalty kill doesn’t help either. With forward Vince Hinostroza and defenseman Robbie Russo leading the way, the Fighting Irish should sweep this series.

Conor: Notre Dame. With the seventh-ranked offense in Hockey East (2.86 goals per game), Notre Dame might not be an offensive juggernaut, but then don’t need to be against a team such as UMass. With the Minutemen possessing the worst defense in the conference by far (4.15 goals allowed per game), look for the Fighting Irish’s skilled forward corps to do some damage this weekend.

Sarah: Notre Dame. Have you seen the way Cal Petersen has been playing these past few games? He just got named Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for his .962 save percentage and 1.48 goals-against average in the month of February. He stifled BU a couple weeks back, as I’m sure you all pleasantly remember, and had 55 saves against Boston College and a shutout against Providence. Even though I think UMass has some goal-scoring ability, there’s no way they’re getting enough against Petersen.

Merrimack vs. Northeastern

Andrew: Northeastern. If not for an awful start to the year, the Huskies would be a much higher seed in this tournament. Over the last 23 games, Northeastern is 15-5-3. Forwards Kevin Roy and Mike Szmatula have powered an offense that has been on fire in the second half. Merrimack was once a top-15 team in the USCHO poll. Times have changed, and the Warriors haven’t won a game since Jan. 30.

Conor: Northeastern. This series couldn’t be more of a mismatch in terms of momentum for both of these teams. After failing to clinch in a win in its first nine games of the season, Northeastern has compiled a 16-6-3 mark — vaulting them up the rankings and making them a potential contender in the upcoming conference tournament. Meanwhile, Merrimack has fallen on hard times, failing to clinch a win since Jan. 30. With the Huskies seemingly firing on all cylinders, look for coach Jim Madigan’s crew to come away with the series win.

Sarah: Northeastern. Poor Merrimack. What looked like was going to be a legitimate run for them withered away in the second half of the season. They haven’t won since Jan. 30, as the boys pointed out, and I don’t think they’ll see another win this season. The Huskies, contrarily, are on fire, and can play with any team, as we saw in the final three games of the season against BU.

Maine vs. Vermont

Andrew: Vermont. Things just haven’t gone well for Black Bears coach Red Gendron and his squad this season. Forward Devon Shore has regressed a bit, and there haven’t been many others to pick up the slack. Vermont’s offense hasn’t been any better this season, but a stout defense in the form of Mike Paliotta and strong goaltending from Mike Santaguida will get the Catamounts a series win.

Conor: Vermont. If this series had kicked off earlier in this season, there would be no doubt in my mind that the Catamounts would annihilate Red Gendron’s Black Bears. Now, I’m not as certain. While Maine has struggled for most of this season, the Catamounts started off strong, but are just 4-8-3 in 2015. However, I can’t see a roster filled with players like Mike Paliotta and Mike Santaguida drop two out of three games against Maine.

Sarah: Vermont. Vermont dropped off a bit in the second half of this season, as Conor noted, but they’ve still got prime players — Paliotta, Santaguida and Alexx Privitera doing some workk. Mario Puskarich hasn’t played much lately, and isn’t expected to be available this weekend, which could give Maine a chance to strike. Still, I could see Maine taking a game, but not the whole thing.

UConn vs. UNH

Andrew: UConn. This is really the only series that I could see there being any potential upset in. Is UNH the better team? Yes. Seniors Grayson Downing and Matt Willows anchor a strong offensive group. But for some reason, I see the Huskies taking this series. UConn has defeated both No. 9 Boston College and No. 14 University of Massachusetts Lowell this year. The defense isn’t great, but netminder Rob Nichols could steal a short series.

Conor: UNH. While UConn has managed to pull off some impressive upsets this year, I think this is the Wildcat’s series to lose. It might have been another down year up in Durham, but UNH is entering the playoffs on a hot streak, winning six out of its last seven games. Looking for the Wildcats — who have outscored UConn 128-11 in 13 total meetings — to continue their impressive run for another week.

Sarah: UNH. I can see why UConn would be an attractive “upset” pick — they’ve done it several times this season — but they haven’t beaten any of the league’s top six teams since Jan. 10 (UMass Lowell). The Huskies closed out the season with five losses in their last seven games. The Wildcats, however, ended the season with five straight wins. Hard to pick against that.


  1. So, none of you picked UMass in 5 OT’s?

  2. Yea, Glenn that must have been some game. Also Maine could have upset Vermont as they were leading in the third and Merrimack did upset Northeastern.

  3. What a downer that must have been for UND and their fans … expending all that energy and losing the game. They can’t even “come up for air” … as these games are on consecutive nights. What an overwhelming effort it will take To their credit, the Irish evened the series tonight … 1-1. By the way, I wonder if the players took a power-nap during some of the intermissions (between OT periods)?

  4. Sarah – you should have followed that instinct. You would be famous now LOL.

  5. OMG – how proud are we of BU Women’s Hockey!!!