1. Boston College Eagles: *30-8-1 (**20-6-1)
There are a lot of questions for the Eagles as they enter the 2011 season, although no one can question the immense amount of talent on the roster. First round draft picks Chris Kreider (11-13-24) and Kevin Hayes (4-10-14) need to become key point producers in an attempt to make up for the absence of last year’s first line, Joe Whitney, Brian Gibbons and Cam Atkinson, who combined for 54 goals. Junior Brian Dumoulin (3-30-33), one of the best defensemen in the country, will return to anchor an Eagles defense which will need to be stout to take pressure off of the inexperienced BC net minders. For the first time since the 2006-2007 season, the Eagles will rely on a goaltender other than two time National Champion John Muse. Junior Parker Milner (.899, 2.68) will be in competition for the starting goaltender job with incoming freshman Brian Billett (.933, 1.93), who posted outstanding numbers for the NH Junior Monarchs in the EJHL.
Key Losses: F Cam Atkinson (31-21-52), F Brian Gibbons (18-33-51), F Joe Whitney (5-26-31), F Jimmy Hayes (21-12-33), G John Muse (.920, 2.30)
Notable Newcomers: G Brian Billett, F John Gaudreau, F Destry Straight, F Cam Spiro
2. Boston University Terriers: 19-12-8 (15-6-6)
The bad news for the Terriers is they are coming off a disappointing season in which they did not reach the Hockey East semi-finals for the first time since 2001, losing at home in the quarterfinals to Northeastern. The good news is that they return their seven top point scorers from a year ago. Add in another ultra-talented recruiting class and it would appear the Terriers are primed to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since they won it in 2009. Charlie Coyle (7-19-26), last season’s Hockey East Rookie of the Year, returns to lead an explosive offense which includes senior captain Chris Connolly (10-18-28) and Dallas Stars draft pick Alex Chiasson (14-20-34). Four year starter Kieran Millan (.919, 2.68) will once again be between the pipes for the Terriers. The small but gifted recruiting class of F Evan Rodrigues, D Alex Privitera and F Cason Hohmann should be able to come in and contribute right away.
Key Losses: D David Warsofsky (7-15-22), F Joe Pereira (15-6-21)
Notable Newcomers:F Evan Rodrigues, D Alex Privitera, F Cason Hohmann
3. New Hampshire Wildcats: 22-11-6 (17-6-4)
Like Boston College, the Wildcats go into the 2011-2012 season without many of their top point producers from a season ago. Forwards Paul Thompson, Mike Sislo and Phil DeSimone, who combined for 53 goals, all graduated in the spring. Former All-American defensemen Blake Kessel (5-22-27) also left, signing a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Wildcats do return one of the best goalies in league, senior Matt Di Girolamo (.923, 2.44), as well as senior forwards Stevie Moses (14-12-26) and Mike Borisenok (6-14-20). Junior Brett Kostolansky (5-14-19) and senior Damon Kipp (3-10-13) will anchor the UNH blue line. All eyes will be on freshman defensemen Trevor Van Riemsdyk as he follows in his brother’s footsteps onto the ice at the Whittemore Center. Wildcat fans will also anxiously await the collegiate debut of forward Matt Willows, who put up a 27-43-70 scoring line in only 40 games en route to the EJHL Top Forward award.
Key Losses: F Paul Thompson (28-24-52), F Mike Sislo (15-33-48), F Phil DeSimone (10-31-41), D Blake Kessel (5-22-27)
Notable Newcomers: F Matt Willows, F Grayson Downing, D Trevor Van Riemsdyk, G Casey DeSmith
4. Maine Black Bears: 17-12-7 (14-8-5)
The Black Bears failed to reach their goal of a NCAA tournament appearance last season, despite big offensive years from Gustav Nyquist (18-33-51), Robby Dee (13-22-35) and Tanner House (10-25-35). Those three have all moved on and it will be up to returning seniors Spencer Abbott (17-23-40) and Brian Flynn (20-16-36) to carry the scoring load. Both will have to do so without Nyquist, who was one of the best passers in the country the last few seasons. Joey Diamond (11-10-21), who has shown flashes of brilliance during his first two seasons, will try and make his production match his talent level this year. The Black Bears did lose two of the best defensive defensemen in Hockey East, as both Jeff Dimmen (7-9-16) and Josh Van Dyk (3-15-18) graduated. Maine does return lockdown defensemen and offensive threat Will O’Neill (4-17-21), who will lead the blue line. Goaltending was a problem in 2010-2011 for the Black Bears, as the Maine net minders (Dan Sullivan, Shawn Sirman, Martin Ouellette) combined for an .884 SP and a 2.86 GAA.
Key Losses: FGustav Nyquist (18-33-51), F Tanner House (10-25-35), F Robby Dee (13-22-35), D Jeff Dimmen (7-19-16)
Notable Newcomers:D Jacob Rutt, F Andrew Cerretani, F Connor Leen, F Pietro Antonelli
5. Merrimack Warriors: 25-10-4 (16-8-3)
With Stephane Da Costa (14-31-45) playing his home games in Ottawa this season, the Warriors will rely heavily on the broad shoulders of Joe Cannata (.911, 2.48) if they are to repeat last year’s magical run to the Hockey East Championship game. Cannata, arguably the best goalie in the league, will have a solid defensive core in front of him, including senior Karl Stollery (6-21-27) and sophomores Jordan Heywood (2-14-16) and Brendan Ellis (2-14-16). Merrimack, who in addition to Da Costa lost forwards Joe Cucci (14-22-36) and Chris Barton (14-25-39), will rely heavily on senior forwards Jesse Todd (17-14-31) and Ryan Flanigan (16-18-34). Sophomore Mike Collins (14-16-30), who turned a lot of heads as a rookie last season, will be a key cog in the Warriors’ offensive attack. This will be a crucial year for head coach Mark Dennehy, as he hopes to continue building the once hapless Merrimack program into a perennial contender.
Key Losses: FStephane Da Costa (14-31-45), F Joe Cucci (14-22-36), F Chris Barton (14-25-39), D Adam Ross (2-8-10)
Notable Newcomers: F Quinn Gould, D Mike Wills, F Kyle Singleton, G Rasmus Tirronen
6. Northeastern Huskies: 14-16-8 (10-10-7)
What a crazy off-season for the Huskies. Coaches left, coaches were hired, recruits de-committed, new recruits were added, a former BU forward transferred, and this was since June. When the dust finally settled, Northeastern was left with alum Jim Madigan behind the bench and a very talented but inexperienced roster. The Huskies will be without two of their leaders, Wade Macleod (22-23-45) and Tyler McNeely (13-21-34), as well as Brodie Reid (11-17-28) who left for the AHL and Jamie Oleksiak (4-9-13) who went to juniors. The Huskies did bring in Vinny Saponari who posted a 12-18-30 scoring line for the Terriers two seasons ago. The Huskies strengths will be defense and goaltending as sophomore defensemen Anthony Bitetto (3-17-20) and Luke Eibler (3-10-13) will play in front of goaltenders Chris Rawlings (.920, 2.68) and Clay Witt (.940, 1.86). The Huskies will also count on offensive production from lone senior Mike McLaughlin (11-4-15) and talented forward Steve Quailer (3-10-13).
Key Losses: F Wade Macleod (22-23-45), F Tyler McNeely (13-21-34), F Brodie Reid (11-17-28), F Steve Silva (11-20-31), D Jamie Oleksiak (4-9-13)
Notable Newcomers:F Vinny Saponari, D Josh Manson, F Adam Reid, F Joe Manno
7. Vermont Catamounts: 8-20-8 (6-14-7)
For the first time since joining Hockey East in 2005, Vermont lost more games than they won. The Catamounts had trouble putting the puck in the net, scoring only 2.28 goals per game while registering a mere 13.3% power-play conversion rate. Last year’s top scoring forwards Sebestian Stalberg (9-19-28) and Chris McCarthy (8-12-20) will return to bolster the offense. Sophomores Connor Brickley (4-9-13) and Matt White (3-8-11) need to become consistent scorers for the Catamounts to be successful against the better teams in the league. Rob Madore (.907, 2.98) will once again start between the pipes for Vermont. Madore, who is already a three year starter who has 32 career wins, will be protected by defensemen Drew MacKenzie (5-12-17) and Nick Bruneteau (1-15-16).
Key Losses: F Jack Downing (13-5-18), F Wahsontiio Stacey (9-6-15), F Josh Burrows (3-8-11), D Kyle Medvec (2-4-6)
Notable Newcomers:F Colin Markison, F Mike Montagna, D Michael Paliotta, G Brett Bruneteau
8. Providence Friars: 8-18-8 (4-16-7)
The Friars made a big splash in the college hockey world this spring when they announced that they had hired former Union bench boss Nate Leaman to be their new head coach. Leaman will attempt to rebuild a once proud program which has suffered through five straight losing seasons. Providence did lose their three top scorers to graduation, forwards Ian O’Connor (8-16-24), Kyle MacKinnon (14-9-23) and Matt Germain (10-10-20), but return talented juniors Tim Schaller (5-14-19) and Chris Rooney (3-9-12). Goaltender Alex Beaudry (.902, 3.27) returns for his senior year hoping to rebound from a tough 2010-2011 season. When Beaudry is on he can steal some games and valuable Hockey East points for the Friars, and it is because of his talents that Providence comes in ahead of UMass Lowell and UMass in these rankings.
Key Losses: FIan O’Connor (8-16-24), F Kyle MacKinnon (14-9-23), F Matt Germain (10-10-20), D Eric Baier (5-7-12)
Notable Newcomers:F Kyle Murphy, F Shane Luke, D Barrett Kaib
9. Massachusetts Lowell Riverhawks: 5-25-4 (4-21-2)
The Riverhawks, like Northeastern and Providence, will have a new face behind the bench for the upcoming season. Former UMass Lowell assistant Norm Bazin will take over the reins of a program which has had a disappointing last two years after a 2009 appearance in the Hockey East Championship game. The good news for the Riverhawks, is that their three top scorers from a year ago, forwards David Vallorani (12-19-31) Riley Wetmore (14-16-30) and Matt Ferriera (10-7-17) will all be back to anchor the offense. Defensively, they will miss the puck-moving abilities of 2010-2011 captain Maury Edwards (5-11-16), but will welcome in the talents of BC transfer defensemen Malcolm Lyles. The big question for the Riverhawks will be in net as returning goalies Doug Carr, T.J. Massie and Marc Boulanger combined on a .886 SP and a 3.95 GAA a year ago.
Key Losses: D Maury Edwards (5-11-16), F Scott Campbell (2-1-3), F Patrick Cey (5-7-12)
Notable Newcomers:D Malcolm Lyles, F Tyler Brickler, G Brian Robbins, F Stephen Buco
10. UMass Minutemen: 6-23-6 (5-16-6)
The Minutemen will try and rebound from an extremely disappointing season in which they went 2-15-2 on the road while posting the worst special teams net in Hockey East at -18. UMass will try and replace four year starting goalie Paul Dainton (.908, 3.06, 45 career wins) with either sophomore Jeff Teglia (.855, 4.81) or incoming freshmen Kevin Boyle or Steve Mastalerz. Fortunately for the Minutemen, they return senior forwards T.J. Syner (9-18-27) and Daniel Hobbs (12-16-28) as well as 2010-2011 All-Rookie Hockey East team member, forward Mike Pereira (12-13-25). On defense, the Minutemen will look to senior Michael Marcou (4-7-11) for leadership and 6’6” sophomore Adam Phillips (10-5-15) for intimidation and a rocket slap shot. UMass will also need to be a much more resilient bunch this season, as they went 0-15-3 when they were behind after the first period a year ago.
Key Losses: G Paul Dainton (.908, 3.06), F Chase Langeraap (9-8-17), D Douglas Kublin (3-4-7) F Marc Concannon (2-5-7)
Notable Newcomers:G Kevin Boyle, G Steve Mastalerz, F Zack LaRue, F Andrew Tegeler
* 2010-2011 Overall Record
** 2010-2011 Hockey East Record