Hockey East Season Preview

Written by James Garrison

Boston College Eagles

The No. 6 Boston College Eagles (17–6–1) will kick off their season against Quinnipiac University in Worcester, Massachusetts as a part of the annual Ice Breaker Tournament on Friday, October 8 after an exhibition game on Saturday, October 2 against American International College in Chestnut Hill. Last season the Eagles finished as No. 6 nationally and first in the Hockey East standings. Their bid for a Hockey East title came up short in a thrilling double-overtime semi-finals loss to UMass Lowell. After earning a bid in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals after the University of Notre Dame had to withdraw due to COVID concerns, BC was eliminated by St. Cloud State. The Eagles are ranked 6th in the United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) Men’s College Hockey Poll as of October 8.

Last year BC said goodbye to only two graduating seniors, however, they also lost top scorer Matthew Boldy (22 GP 11-20-31) and starting goalie Spencer Knight (21 GP 16-4-1 2.18 GAA 0.932 SV PCT). Both Hobey Baker Award finalists and first-round NHL draft picks moved up to their respective professional teams. Mike Hardman and Alex Newhook were also lost to professional hockey, leaving a scoring gap in the Eagle’s forward core. To make up for those losses, BC will be welcoming six freshmen into the program, four of which are forwards.

Senior forwards Jack McBain and captain Marc McLaughlin were among the Eagle’s top scorers last season and will be looking to lead their team’s forward core again this upcoming season. Four-time national championship winning head coach Jerry York will be entering his 28th season coaching Boston College– his 50th season coaching NCAA Division 1 hockey. 

Fans will be welcomed back into the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA for their regular-season home opener against Northeastern University Friday, October 15. 

Boston University Terriers

The No. 10 Boston University Terriers (10-5-1) will kick off their season against the University of Connecticut in Hartford, Connecticut on Friday, October 8 after an exhibition game on Saturday, October 2 against the College of the Holy Cross at Walter Brown Arena in Boston, MA. Last season the Terriers finished as No. 12 nationally, and second in Hockey East. After losing in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament to UMass Lowell, they fell two weeks later to St. Cloud State in the NCAA tournament, the eventual runners-up for the national title. The Terriers are ranked 10th in the USCHO Poll.

BU is welcoming back an almost identical roster from last year’s, with the notable exception being the departure of Hobey Baker Award finalist David Farrance to the Nashville Predators organization. BU is welcoming only five freshmen and will only be bidding farewell to three seniors at the end of the year – a roster of primarily juniors and sophomores. Alternate captain Ty Amonte (Sr.) will be joined by his younger brother Tristan (Fr.) after spending two years with the Penticton Bees of the BCHL. The Amontes are a legacy at BU; their father, Tony Amonte (1989-91), played two years at BU before a very long and successful NHL career in which he won a Stanley Cup and went to the Olympics twice. 

The Terriers will have to compensate for the loss of Farrance with greater contributions from junior defenseman Alex Vlasic – a second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019. Vlasic is one of thirteen NHL draft picks on the Terriers roster. Jay O’Brien, Luke Tuch, and Logan Cockerill lead the Terriers up front with sophomore Drew Comesso backing them between the pipes. Albie O’Connell will be entering his 8th year at BU and his 4th year as head coach. BU also added former Boston Bruins assistant coach and BU alum (‘96) Jay Pandolfo as an associate head coach. 

The Terriers will be welcoming fans back into Agganis Arena this year, with their home opener on Saturday, October 9 against the University of Connecticut. 

University of Connecticut Huskies

The University of Connecticut Huskies (10-11-2) will kick off their season against the Sacred Heart Pioneers in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday, October 2. Last season the Huskies finished fourth in Hockey East during the regular season. UConn fell in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Tournament to Providence College and did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. 

UConn only lost three seniors last year and have only brought in four freshmen– similar to that of BU. Senior forward Johnny Evans was a standout last year, scoring 29 points (14G, 15A) in 23 games, good for 16th in the country and third in Hockey East. Currently on the Huskies roster are fifteen upperclassmen, giving them a short window to improve this year and next to have a successful last run with this core of Huskies. 

The only real standout loss of the offseason is the loss of senior captain Adam Karashik. While also serving as captain, Karashik produced 9 points (1G, 8A) in 23 games. All eyes will be on goaltender Darion Hanson, a transfer from Union College, filling the net after the departure of Tomas Vomacka, who played all twenty-three games for the Huskies last season. Mike Cavanaugh will be entering his 10th season as head coach of the Huskies. Prior to coaching the Huskies, Cavanaugh was an associate head coach for Boston College, serving under Jerry York. 

The Huskies will be playing their first game in a new facility, replacing the Mark Edwards Freitas Ice Forum, on Saturday, October 2 against Sacred Heart. 

University of Maine Black Bears

The University of Maine Black Bears (3-11-2) will kick off their season against the University of Nebraska- Omaha Mavericks in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, October 8 after a closed exhibition against Quinnipiac University on Saturday, October 2. Last season the Black Bears 8th in Hockey East during the regular season. The Black Bears fell 7-2 against the University of New Hampshire in the opening play-in round of the Hockey East Tournament and did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. 

With only three incoming freshmen, the Black Bears are one of the more experienced teams in Hockey East. One player to watch this season is Adam Dawe. The undersized senior led UMaine in scoring last year with fourteen points (5G, 9A) in 16 games. Since losing Jeremy Swayman to the Boston Bruins, the Black Bears have lacked solid goaltending. Sophomore goalie Victor Ostman and junior goalie Matthew Thiessen struggled last year with relatively even playing time. In 11 games played, Ostman ended the year with a .902 save percentage and a 3.77 Goals-Against-Average. Thiessen, in 8 games, finished with a .878 save percentage and a 4.23 Goals-Against-Average. 

Captain Jack Quinlivan announced that he would return for a fifth and final year, joining nine other seniors or graduate students. A notable loss for the Black Bears this season is J.D. Greenway– brother of former Terrier Jordan Greenway of the Minnesota Wild. J.D. Greenway is now playing in the Boston Bruins organization. Ben Barr will be entering his first year as an NCAA D-1 head coach after 14 years as an associate or assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Western Michigan University, Providence College, Union College, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

The Black Bears will be welcoming fans back to Alfond Arena on Friday, October 22 when they face the Sacred Heart Pioneers. 

University of Massachusetts Amherst Minutemen

The No. 7 University of Massachusetts Minutemen (20-5-4) kicked off their season against the Minnesota State Mavericks in Amherst, Massachusetts on Saturday, October 2 with a banner-raising ceremony for the national champions, followed by back-to-back losses to the Mavericks. They won both the Hockey East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, their first of each. The Minutemen defeated the UMass Lowell Riverhawks in the Hockey East Tournament 1-0 and the St. Cloud State Huskies 5-0 in the NCAA National Tournament after falling to Minnesota-Duluth in the 2019 NCAA Championship.

The Minutemen lost five seniors last year, most notably top scorers Oliver Chau (29 GP 11-23-34), Carson Gicewicz (28 GP 17-7-24), and captain Jake Gaudet (28 GP 5-8-13). In addition to those senior losses, the Minutemen lost defenseman Zac Jones (29 GP 9-15-24) and assistant captain Marc Del Gaizo to professional hockey. The most notable loss, however, is goaltender Philip Lindberg (15 GP 1.24 GAA 0.949 SV PCT). Despite the loss of one of the most dominant goaltenders in all of the NCAA last year, the Minutemen are still in good hands with Matt Murray (14 GP 1.97 GAA 0.917 SV PCT), who is entering his 5th year with the Minutemen. The Minutemen will be bringing in seven freshmen to account for those losses. 

Senior Bobby Trivingo has been named captain for the 2021-22 campaign, with senior defensemen Colin Felix and junior Matthew Kessel serving as assistants. Head coach Greg Carvel will be entering the first year of a new five-year contract extension, his sixth year overall as the head coach of the Minutemen, and his eleventh year coaching NCAA D-1 hockey. Before coaching in the NCAA, Carvel was an assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for seven years. 

University of Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks

The UMass Lowell Riverhawks (10-9-1) kicked off their season against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, October 2. Last year the Riverhawks finished seventh in Hockey East during the regular season and made it all the way to the Hockey East Finals, before falling to UMass in the finals to close the regular season. 

The Riverhawks would like to build off of a surprising run in the Hockey East Tournament with a roster very different from the 2020-21 squad. Despite only having two graduating seniors, the Riverhawks have lost several top players to professional hockey and transfers. Matt Brown, Chase Blackmun, and Seth Barton are among the most notable losses for the Riverhawks this season. With fourteen skaters that are either freshmen or sophomores, the Riverhawks will rely on the leadership of senior captain Lucas Condotta and alternate captains Reid Stefanson and Jon McDonald.

Senior Owen Savory and sophomore Henry Welsch will be between the pipes this season for the Riverhawks. Savory (3.35 GAA 0.846 SV PCT) started eight games last season, while Welsch (2.54 GAA 0.899 SV PCT) started twelve. Goaltending was an issue for the Riverhawks last year and will have to be better for the Riverhawks to continue to improve after last season’s impressive postseason run. Head coach Norm Bazin will be entering his eleventh season coaching the Riverhawks after assistant coaching stints at Hamilton College (2008-2011), Colorado College (2000-2008), and UMass Lowell (1997-2000).

The Riverhawks will open their doors at the Tsongas Center to fans on Friday, October 15 against Long Island University. 

Merrimack College Warriors

The Merrimack College Warriors (5-11-2) will kick off their season against Providence College (11-9-5) in Providence, Rhode Island on Thursday, October 7. Last year the Warriors finished ninth in Hockey East during the regular season, not making it through to the Hockey East Tournament because of positive COVID cases among team personnel. 

With a high percentage of their roster being juniors, Merrimack’s core is ready to come into their own with a return to normalcy for this group where many have not played a traditional season of college hockey. As a team that struggled to produce offensively last year, the Warriors will rely on a maturing core led by forwards Filip Forsmark, Alex Jeffries, and Liam Walsh. Last year, goaltender Zachary Borgiel saw action in fifteen games with a 3.10 goals-against-average and a 0.883 save percentage. With his first year under his belt, Borgiel will use the valuable experience from last season and try to take the next step with the Warriors.

With their captaincy currently vacant, it will be a leadership-by-committee approach for the Warriors this upcoming season. Head coach Scott Borek will be entering his fourth season at Merrimack and his thirty-sixth season coaching D-1 college hockey. Borek joined Merrimack in 2018 after a mix of head and assistant coaching stints with Providence College, the University of New Hampshire, Lake Superior State University, Brown University, and Dartmouth College. 

The Warriors will take on Sacred Heart on October 16 at J. Thom Lawler Arena. 

University of New Hampshire Wildcats

The University of New Hampshire Wildcats (6-14-3) will kick off their season against Union College, who did not play in the 2020-21 season, in Durham, New Hampshire on Friday, October 8. The Wildcats fell in the quarterfinals to Boston College 3-2 after defeating the University of Maine 7-2 in the opening play-in round.

The Wildcats suffered only a few notable losses from last year’s team. Top forward Angus Croonshank has departed for professional hockey in the Ottawa Senators system and senior assistant captain Patrick Grasso graduated and will be playing for the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. Senior goalie Mike Robinson will be between the pipes once again this season after playing in 21 games last year, posting a 5-12-3 record with a 0.881 save percentage and a 3.37 goals-against-average. 

Senior defenseman Will MacKinnon will be donning the ‘C’ for the Wildcats after the graduation of Charlie Kelleher. The assistant captains behind MacKinnon will be seniors Ryan Verrier, Eric MacAdams, and Jackson Pierson. Head coach Mike Souza (UNH ‘00) will be entering his fourth season as head coach of the Wildcats, his seventh year coaching the program and his eleventh year coaching college hockey. 

The Wildcats will be welcoming fans back into the Whittemore Center on Friday, October 8 against Union.

Northeastern University

The Northeastern University Huskies (9-9-3) will kick off their season against Bentley University in Boston on Saturday, October 2. Last year the Huskies finished sixth in Hockey East before losing 4-1 in the quarter-finals to UMass Amherst. 

The Huskies suffered few departures from last year’s squad, but the most notable of those losses would be those of senior forward, top scorer, and captain Zach Solow, and senior forward Grant Jozefek. Solow will be entering his first year of professional hockey with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League and Jozefek with the Worcester Railers of the East Coast Hockey League. 

The Huskies have notable first-year players from the U.S. National Development Program including forwards Jack Hughes and Ryan St. Louis, son of NHL legend Martin St. Louis. Also getting their first minutes with the Huskies this year will be goaltender Devon Levi, a standout for team Canada during last year’s World-Junior Championship. Levi recorded a 0.75 goals-against-average, a 0.964 save percentage, and three shutouts in seven games. Head coach Jerry Keefe will be entering his first year as head coach of Northeastern, previously spending ten years as an assistant and then later, associate coach for the Huskies. 

The Huskies will take on Bentley at Matthews Arena Saturday night.

Providence College

The Providence College Friars (10-8-5) will kick off their season against Army West Point in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday, October 2. Last year the Friars finished fifth in Hockey East during the regular season, qualifying them for the Hockey East tournament. After taking down UConn 6-1, the Friars lost to eventual champions UMass Amherst.

The Friars lost assistant captain and junior forward Tyce Thompson and senior forward Greg Printz over the offseason: both will be continuing their hockey careers in the AAHL with the Utica Comets and San Diego Gulls, respectively. The Friars will be welcoming six incoming freshmen to the team – four of them NHL draft picks. 

After the graduation of two of Providence’s goalies, Gabe Mollot-Hill and Anton Martinsson, transfer graduate student Austin Cain will be joining senior Jimmy Scannell and junior Jaxson Stauber. During Stauber’s impressive 2020-21 campaign, he posted a 0.916 Save Percentage and a 2.24 goals-against-average, along with four shutouts in twenty-three games. Head Coach Nate Leaman will be entering his tenth season coaching the Friars, his twenty-third season coaching college hockey in some capacity.

The Friars will be welcoming fans back to Schneider Arena on October 2. 

University of Vermont

The University of Vermont Catamounts (1-9-2) will kick off their season against Colgate University in Burlington, Vermont on Friday after an unfortunate year in Hockey East with just one victory for last place in the league. 

The Catamounts have experienced a major roster turnaround since last season; with thirteen player departures from last year’s team, the already-struggling Catamounts will have to come together quickly this upcoming season. UVM will rely on the leadership of captain junior Andrew Lucas and assistants Carter Long, Jacques Bouqout, and William Lemay to get the Catamounts started off on the right foot. 

As a team that struggles to score goals, much pressure will be placed on UVM’s goaltending core this season, led by graduate student Tyler Harmon, who played ten games last season. It will be a total team effort for the Catamounts between their leadership and goaltending cores as they look to improve from a one-win season last year. Head Coach Todd Woodcroft will be entering his second season as the head coach of UVM after spending four years as an assistant coach of the Winnipeg Jets. 

The Catamounts will open the season at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Friday, October 8 against Colgate. 

Be sure to follow @BOSHockeyBlog on Twitter for updates on the state of the Terriers, Hockey East, and College Hockey.

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