2019-20 NCAA Preview: Hockey East
Will Northeastern be top dog again?
The top of Hockey East is going to be very interesting this season.
Of note, Boston University is hosting both the Beanpot (at Walter Brown) and the National Tournament at Agganis Arena (the home of the men’s team but just across the street from Walter Brown).
How Last Season Went
Northeastern was the top dog last season, perhaps in surprising fashion, winning both the Hockey East regular season and tournament. However, they fell in the first round of the National Tournament to Cornell in overtime.
Boston College, with their stacked line up of returning Olympians and strong seniors, was thought by many to be favorites not only in the conference but the nation. Then they came away from the entire season completely empty handed. No Beanpot - which Boston University won for the first time in 40 years. No Hockey East regular season or tournament either. They did receive an at-large bid to the National Tournament but lost in overtime to Clarkson.
Boston University rounded out the top three in conference, with Providence and Merrimack filling out the top five. Newcomers to the conference Holy Cross only won one game last season, a 5-3 stunner against Northeastern.
Top Team Predictions
I think Northeastern will again take the top spot with the potential to make a longer run in the National Championship too. Alina Müller and Chloé Aurard have a full season of NCAA play under their skates now. The pair were electric together last season with very little experience playing with one another, so expect the same from the international pair. Aerin Frankel saw about 75 percent of the work load last season, but with Brittany Bugalski graduated and two freshmen in the goaltending tandem, her work load should increase.
Dark Horse Team
Can you call the Eagles a dark horse team? The young team will come out with something to prove, especially after two big names transferred in the offseason - Daryl Watts to Wisconsin, and Catrin Lonergan to Clarkson. As Grant Salzano points out in his preview of the team at BC Interruption, with one exception, their entire defensive core is freshman and sophomore. Of course, one of those is Olympic gold medalist Cayla Barnes. Their youth and hunger could be an advantage but it could also be a downfall in a conference with “older” teams who have had time to gel together.
5 players to watch
Alexie Guay, freshman, Boston College
Guay joins an BC team desperate for some scorers, as they lost a large majority of the goal scorers to graduation or transfer including forward minded defender Megan Keller. Guay fits that bill nicely. At the last U18 Worlds she notched two goals and four assists in five games to be named best defender as Canada won gold. She’ll be a fun one to watch.
Jesse Compher, junior, Boston University
Compher enters her junior year at BU looking stronger than ever. She was third in the nation in points last season, tripling her freshman numbers. No sophomore slump for the better of the Compher siblings (her brother plays for the Avalanche). She’s got two U18 Worlds gold medals and one senior Worlds gold medal. She, along with teammate Sammy Davis, has the ability to put the Terriers on her back this season.
Maureen Murphy, junior, Providence College
The junior forward out of Buffalo lead Providence in goals scored, assists, and points last season. She’s another who had a breakout sophomore season in Hockey East and has the ability to put those numbers again.
Mikyla Grant-Mentis, senior, Merrimack
Merrimack lost their top producer from the previous two seasons in Katelyn Rae. Grant-Mentis wasn’t far behind her though with 34 points last season (to Rae’s 40). She’s had a big role on the team but look for her to step it up another notch for her final season of college hockey and light up the score sheet.
Alina Müller, sophomore, Northeastern
It’s Müller, do I need to say much more? She put up 51 points as a freshman. She’s electric to watch. The sky is the limit for her.
5 series to watch
If it was up to me, everyone would watch every game. But obviously that’s not possible. Out of conference play has been a larger part of the conversation lately so here’s four out of conference series to watch and one in conference.
Oct. 4/5, 2019 - UConn at Long Island University
Can a series to watch in the Hockey East preview be more about the NEWHA team than the Hockey East team? Well it is. LIU is a newcomer to NCAA hockey and this game against UConn will be a great test to see how they fare.
Nov. 20, 2019 - Boston College vs Wisconsin in the Country Classic in Nashville
Another out of conference match up, I know. But, this is potentially the only time Watts will face off against her former team. Plus its in Nashville which is Fun! Minnesota and Harvard are the other two teams matching up in the Country Classic.
Jan. 4/5, 2020 - Northeastern in the Battle of the Burgh in Pittsburgh
Northeastern will head to Pittsburgh early in 2020 for a four team tournament. On Jan. 4 they’ll take on Colgate before matching up against either Wisconsin or Robert Morris. The Huskies rarely, if ever, see these ECAC and WCHA teams so its a real treat.
Feb. 4 and 11, 2020 - Beanpot!
Beanpot Tuesdays are the best Tuesdays of the whole year. BU is hosting this year. Harvard and Northeastern have the first game on Feb. 4 while BU and BC have the second game. The second Tuesday is for all the Beans.
Nov. 1/2, 2019 - Northeastern and Boston University home and home weekend
I think these will be the top two teams in Hockey East season, and this is great early look at both of them. Plus both Walter Brown (Friday night) and Matthews Arena (Saturday afternoon) are great places to watch hockey. To veer slightly off course, the NWHL’s Boston Pride aren’t home and the PWHPA New England has nothing schedule this weekend either. Fill up your schedule!
How to Watch
NESN announced a multi-year partnership with Hockey East to broadcast games from both the men’s and women’s side of the conference. Of the nearly 100 games on the schedule, 18 are women’s games.
Otherwise, each school streams its owns game.