As we make our way through a very slow off-season, you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The 2014-15 Division I hockey season is slowly approaching, and there are roughly 50 days until the season begins.
Checking the composite Hockey East Schedule, I have selected five must-see non-conference Hockey East series that I think will stimulate your interest. In my opinion, these are exciting non-conference match ups that will not only garner a lot of national attention, but also have national implications in the Pairwise Rankings.
This is the fifth segment of Five Must-See Series Non-Conference Series. NCHC Hockey: Five Must-See Non-Conference Series, ECAC Hockey: Five Must-See Non-Conference Series, WCHA Hockey: Five Must-See Non-Conference Series, Big Ten Hockey: Five Must-See Non-Conference Series.
Series One: Quinnipiac University vs. Mass.-Lowell Date: October 17-18, 2014 Location Game One: High Point Solutions Arena, Hamden, Connecticut. Location Game Two: Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Massachusetts.
This has the making of an exciting two-game non-conference, home-and-home series that should have national implications in the Pairwise Rankings. Over the last two seasons, Quinnipiac (54-18-11, .716) and Mass-Lowell (54-11-6, .695) have been two of the better teams in college hockey.
This will also be the re-match of last year’s non-conference series between the Bobcats and Riverhawks. The Bobcats swept the Riverhawks in an exciting, two-game home-and-home series. The Bobcats won 3-1 on Friday night in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Bobcats followed up Friday’s win with an identical 3-1 score on Saturday Night in Hamden, Connecticut.
Series two: Providence College vs. the University of North Dakota Date: October 24-25, 2014. Location: Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The Providence College Friars invade the Ralph Engelstad Arena in October to play the University of North Dakota in an important two-game non-conference series. The Friars went 22-11-6 last season, and made it to the 2014 NCAA East Regional Final, before losing to the eventual national champion Union College 3-1. The Friars return a veteran lineup and “should” be one of the better teams in Hockey East.
The Friars are led by junior goalie Jon Gillies (19-9-5, 2.16 GAA and a .931 SV%). Gillies was also the starting goaltender for the U.S. National Junior Team that competed at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
All-time, UND has a 8-5-0 record against Providence and hasn’t played them since the 1988-89 season, when UND beat the Friars 3-2 in Providence, Rhode Island.
The Boston College Eagles travel west to take on the University of Denver in a non-conference match-up. This will the re-match of NCAA Northeast Regional Semifinal. Boston College beat Denver 5-2 to advance to the regional final against UMass-Lowell. This is an important non-conference match-up that will have major implications in the Pairwise Rankings.
Series four: The University of Minnesota vs. Boston College and Northeastern University.
Date: November 28-29, 2014.
Location game one: Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Location game two: Mathews Arena, Boston, Massachusetts.
Boston College and Northeastern fans probably have these dates already marked on their calenders. From a national perspective, these are very attractive non-conference matchups, as the University of Minnesota will travel east to take on Hockey East teams Boston College and Northeastern in Boston, Massachusetts.
These two non-conference match-ups should have national implications in the Pairwise Rankings and will also attract a lot of national attention.
Last season, Minnesota played Boston College in a two-game non-conference series at Mariucci Arena. The Eagles tied and lost to the homesteading Gophers (3-3 T, 1-6 L).
It is well documented that the Boston College Eagles have been one of the top teams in college hockey during the last 15 years and have won an impressive four NCAA titles during that time frame (2001, 2008, 2010, 2012).
Minnesota has also been a powerhouse team during the same time frame, winning two NCAA titles (2002, 2003).
All-time, Boston College has a (12-15-3, .450) record against the University of Minnesota. Boston College also has a 9-5-2 record against the Gophers in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
All-time, Northeastern has a (5-8-0, .384). Northeastern last played the Gophers during the 2011-12 season and beat the Gophers 3-2 at Mariucci Arena. The Huskies have taken two of the last three games that they have played against Minnesota. The Gophers have never won at Northeastern are 0-3-0 on Huskies home ice.
According to Mike McMahon of College Hockey News, the University of Minnesota has hosted 13 games against Hockey East opponents and traveled east for two games against Vermont. Now, Hockey East Fans will get to see how the University of Minnesota does against the Boston College Eagles and Northeastern University Huskies on their home rinks.
Series five: New Hampshire vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Date December 30-31, 2014.
Location: CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
During their history, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats and the University of Nebraska Omaha have played a grand total of four games against each other. Neither team has been able to win in the other team’s arena.
This series should have national implications in the Pairwise Rankings.
This series is the re-match of last season two-game non-conference series that saw the Wildcats sweep the Mavericks in impressive fashion (6-3 W & 5-2) at the Whittemore Center, Durham, New Hampshire.
This should prove to be an interesting series between two teams that are coming of disappointing seasons. Both teams’ seasons ended in their conference tournament, and neither team made the NCAA tourney.
All-Time, New Hampshire has a (2-2-0, .500) record against Nebraska-Omaha.
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.