Hockey East Season Preview
Last year, the Hockey East Association played a significant role in the landscape of college hockey with two teams in the Frozen Four. In this year’s preseason poll, four teams are ranked in the top 20. Reigning champions of Hockey East and the Beanpot, Northeastern, will look to continue its hot streak into the new season. Meanwhile, the Hockey East team with the most points in the preseason poll, Massachusetts, is primed for another great season. After a down year, consistent powerhouse Boston College will look to make a splash this year too. There are also some underdogs and dark horses who think it could be their year. Let’s get into the preview of Hockey East.
This is a team that finished third in Hockey East last season with a conference record of 15-8-1, but it was the postseason where the Huskies shined. They won Hockey East tournament championship despite not playing a higher-seeded team throughout the entirety of the tournament. Northeastern reached the NCAA tournament but lost in the first round to Cornell 5-1 in a fluky performance. Overall, this team has a lot to be proud of looking back on last season, as it established itself as one of the top hockey programs in Boston. Northeastern hockey is here to compete, and with a great coaching staff, the Huskies are a force at the top of Hockey East.
Last year’s Massachusetts team set a precedence for success, finishing atop the Hockey East standings. Led by NHL products in Cale Makar, the 2019 Hobey Baker Award winner, and returning prospect Mitchell Chaffee, the Minutemen found success in the NCAA tournament. Despite being upset by Boston College in the Hockey East tournament semifinals, they defied the odds and made a run all the way to the NCAA tournament championship game, losing to Minnesota-Duluth. Massachusetts’s coach Greg Carvel was named National Coach of the Year. The team did lose many seniors, but the Minutemen return a strong core. Sophomore forward John Leonard, sophomore defenseman Mario Ferraro and goalie Matt Murray figure to be key pieces. Watch out for the Minutemen.
Typically, a team that makes a run to the Frozen Four the year prior is not considered a dark horse in its own conference. However, with the teams above, Providence will be challenged in its attempt to come out on top in Hockey East. The Frozen Four appearance was the second time in five seasons for the Friars, which won their first NCAA championship in 2015. Finishing second in the Hockey East standings last year with a 14-7-3 record, this Providence team looks to make a deep run into the postseason once again. But can the Friars improve their divisional play to to be a factor in the Hockey East?
The River Hawks, despite not having the same successful outcome as their counterpart in Amherst, quietly put together an amazing season last year. Last year’s fourth best team in the conference record-wise should be able to compete with the best in the country this year. This is a team with an NHL talent in goalie Tyler Wall, who can shut down any team’s offense. UMass Lowell just missed out on the NCAA Tournament last year with many believing that the River Hawks should have made it. This will give extra motivation to the River Hawks, which have the potential to show the rest of Hockey East that it is their year to shine.
The final team to make this list may come as a surprise to some, considering that teams like Boston University and Maine finishing with better records last season, but Boston College starts the preseason polls sitting at No. 11 in the country. Despite finishing below .500 last season, the Eagles have a solid roster thanks to consistent recruiting. This year will feature players already owned by NHL teams like forwards Matthew Boldy and Alex Newhook. If the Eagles play as good as they look on paper, it will be hard to stop them. They may not have lived up to expectations last season, but with college hockey’s all-time winningest coach Jerry York at the helm, BC is in a position to make a run at the Hockey East title and the Beanpot.
Matt Noah is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.