Monday, September 5, 2011

Hockey East Pre-Season Power Rankings and Predictions

This season, Hockey East has the potential to have a large gap between the top teams and the basement dwellers. Three teams, Northeastern, Lowell, and Providence will have brand new Head Coaches and other teams lost a great deal of talent, either to the NHL or graduation, not to mention that NU lost basically it's entire recruiting class following the explosion of the former coaching staff.

10. UMass Lowell 
Last season, Lowell finished dead last in Hockey East and I can't see this season being any different for the RiverHawks. They will welcome in a new head coach and the transition to a new bench boss will be quite tough for a program that does not have any top notch recruits in line for next year, or years to come. Lowell, sorry its going to be a long, rough road for the foreseeable future. 

9. Northeastern University 
Ever since the Huskies beat BU two out of three in last year's Hockey East Quarterfinals, everything that could go wrong for NU did go wrong. Their Head Coach Greg Cronin sparked the powder keg by fleeing the school to take the assistant coaching job with the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs. Following that, many of NU's other coaches left for other jobs. Then, a wave of de-commits from top recruits took place, leaving the school, which once had one of the top incoming freshman classes in the league, with little to no new talented hockey players coming to school this winter. The one bright side for NU is that they will welcome former Terrier Vinny Saponari to the team. 

8. Providence College
Despite also having to welcome in a new head coach, Providence does have the best goalie in the league in Alex Beaudry (photo). The is what puts PC over the hump to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 when they finished 5th.

7. University of Massachusetts 
UMass is the first team on this list that does not have to bring in a new head coach, but that does not mean they don't have holes to fill. The main hole is in net, with four year starter Paul Dainton now graduated and in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons. Jeff Teglia will be the man to fill Dainton's void between the pipes. Teglia played in 9 games last season, two of which were against BU (a tie and a loss). Teglia has no career wins as a starting goaltender with the Minutemen.

6. University of Vermont 
Last season the Catamounts eked out seventh place and lost in two games in to UNH in the Quarterfinals of the HE playoffs. Vermont graduated no real big name seniors and had no other early departures, along with one of the better goalies in the league in Rob Madore. I think UVM can't do much worse than 6th.

5. Maine
Unlike Vermont, Maine did lose a lot of talent in the off season. Key losses include Gustave Nyquist to the Red Wings and two year Captain Tanner House. Maine has a much better recruiting class coming to Orono this fall than Vermont does and the Black Bears have some very high-skilled players left over from last year. So, that's why I put Maine over Vermont.

4. Merrimack College
The Mack lost a lot of talent over the Summer including leading scorer Stephan DaCosta, along with top producing Seniors,  Fraser Allen, Joe Cucci, and Adam Ross. MC will be returning a brick wall in net with Joe Cannata (photo). The season could start off slow for the Warriors but come February/March, MC should be right in the thick of things and have a very good chance at picking up home ice in the league playoffs.

3. University of New Hampshire 
Despite losing arguably the best line in the league last year, Seniors Paul Thompson, Mike Sislo and Phil DeSimone all graduating, UNH still brings a lot of talent to the table this year. Rising Senior, Stevie Moses potted 14 goals and 12 assists last season and goaltender Matt DiGrolamo looks like he can hold the fort in between the pipes for the Wildcats. Lets be honest. UNH will always be in the picture when discussing who's going to win the league.

2. Boston College 
Like every other team mentioned in the rankings, BC lost their fair share of talent over the Summer. Notables include two time National Champion   and four year starting goalie, John Muse, two time 30+ goal scorer Cam Atkinson, and Jimmy Hayes, who was a second round draft pick by the Maple Leafs back in 2008. Ok. So BC lost a lot of high profile players. That's not to say they don't still have a ton of talent on the team. The Eagles will return two sophomore defenseman (Patrick Wey, and Brian Dumoulin),who both played on the USA World Junior Championship team last Winter. The big issue for BC this season will be in goal. Untested Parker Milner looks to be the guy right now. Milner started against BU in 2010. Thankfully, now former Terrier Colby Cohen gave Milner the loss with a game winning overtime strike. Competition for net time at BC will likely be between Milner and incoming freshman, Brad Barone, a Medfield MA native who attended Nobles for high school.

1. Boston University
Unlike BC and UNH, BU loses only two notables. David Warsofsky, skipped his senior year to join the Providence Bruins (AHL). Last years Captain and only skating Senior, Joe Pereira graduated and is now also in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. BU's only other loss was third string goalie Adam Krause. Besides that, the Terriers return their entire roster. Also, BU will welcome high-profile recruits, Alexx Privitera, Casson Hohmann, and Evan Rodrigues. BU has the most depth at goalie by far with Millan and Rollheiser in net. Like last year, it's probably Millan's job to lose, but Rollie is a very capable backup. Look for a big year from both Charlie Coyle and Alex Chiasson (photo). Both have the capability to put 30 in the back of the net.

Just to clear things up. This is the first time I've picked BU to win the league. So don't think I'm being overly biased here.

(Season Preview coming soon)

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