Colleges

A look at the Hockey East teams for the 2017-18 season

Boston University goaltender Jake Oettinger makes a save against Northeastern during the first period at Agganis Arena in Boston, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Winslow Townson for The Boston Globe)

winslow townson for the globe

Jake Oettinger mans the BU goal.

(In predicted order of finish)BOSTON UNIVERSITY

Coach: David Quinn, 83-54-17, fifth year.

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Last year: 24-12-3, 13-6-3 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to BC in Hockey East semifinals; lost to Duluth in NCAA regional.

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Outlook: The Bruins grabbed two of the Terriers’ hot shots — defenseman Charlie McAvoy (5-21—26) and forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (14-19—33) — and sleek freshman forward Clayton Keller, the team’s top scorer (21-24—45), signed with the Coyotes. But nine freshmen and a graduate transfer replenish the stock for a team ranked No. 2 in the nation. Among the newbies are seven forwards and three defensemen, including five players selected in the 2017 NHL Draft. Among the glamour freshmen are Brady Tkachuk, son of Keith, and Ty Amonte, son of Tony; both dads are former Terriers and longtime NHLers. Brady Tkachuk was recently named Player of the Game in the All-American Prospects Game after scoring the game winner. Returning forwards include Patrick Harper, Bobo Carpenter, and Jordan Greenway. Greenway, for one, has been mentioned as an Olympic candidate. In goal is one of the nation’s top netminders, Jake Oettinger (21-11-3, 2.11 goals against average, .927 save percentage). This Terriers team will be deeper than last year’s talented but perhaps underperforming squad.

UMASS-LOWELL

Coach: Norm Bazin, 151-68-21, seventh year.

Last year: 27-11-3, 14-7-1 Hockey East.

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Postseason: Won Hockey East; lost to Notre Dame in NCAA regional.

Outlook: Lowell has been in the Hockey East championship game for five consecutive years, and while the fifth-ranked River Hawks lost five strong players (forwards Joe Gambardella, C.J. Smith, and Evan Campbell, and defensemen Dylan Zink and Michael Kapla), by the end of the season, Bazin always seems to pull together a tournament-tough team. He has six new players coming in — three forwards, three defensemen. Bazin said the young blue liners will match up with some experienced players to create a healthy mix. He calls the offense unproven. “Losing our two best forwards and two best defensemen in terms of offensive production is considerable,” he said, “so we’re really looking to see how good our development was last year to see if some of our underbelly guys can take up that slack.” Lowell has another in its long line of great goaltenders in Tyler Wall (2.06 GAA, .918 save percentage), who was named to the Hockey East all-tournament team after backstopping the River Hawks to the title. Bazin recently signed a contract extension through 2021-22.

PROVIDENCE

Coach: Nate Leaman, 128-77-28, seventh year.

Last year: 22-12-5, 12-7-3 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to Notre Dame in Hockey East quarterfinals; lost to Harvard in NCAA regional.

Outlook: Leaman was blunt: “I think our league basically comes down to BU and everybody else.” But he is probably too modest; the seventh-ranked Friars, who lost stellar defenseman Jake Walman to the Blues, routinely put the pieces carefully back in place to make room for themselves at the top of the conference standings. Providence should continue to have scoring depth, led by senior Brian Pinho (12-28—40) and junior Erik Foley (15-19—34). Freshmen include Islanders prospect Ben Mirageas and Blackhawks prospect Jake Ryczek. Providence also has brought on defenseman Tommy Davis, a Princeton grad, as a graduate student. Hayden Hawkey (2.19 GAA, .913 save percentage), a Canadiens prospect, holds down the net.

BOSTON COLLEGE

Coach: Jerry York, 566-279-80, 23rd year.

Last year: 21-15-4, 13-6-3 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to Lowell in Hockey East final.

Outlook: The 13th-ranked Eagles lost leading scorers Austin Cangelosi (21-14—35), Matthew Gaudreau (8-27—35), Colin White (16-17—33), and Ryan Fitzgerald (12-19—31) and brought in five freshmen up front, including Jacob Tortora and Logan Hutsko from the US National Team Development Program, and Carlton Award winner Casey Carreau from Thayer Academy. BC also added two defensemen, including graduate student Kevin Lohan, who previously played for Michigan. The leading returning scorer is Christopher Brown (9-17—26) and the larger cast includes junior Casey Fitzgerald (5-17—22), brother of Bruins prospect Ryan and a Sabres draft pick. BC has strength in goal: Joe Woll had a 2.64 GAA and a .913 save percentage as a freshman.

NORTHEASTERN

Coach: Jim Madigan (97-96-27, seventh year).

Last year: 18-15-5, 9-10-3 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to BU in Hockey East quarterfinals.

Outlook: NU is coming off its fourth consecutive season of .500 or better, a feat not accomplished since 1943. They lost big-time goal scorer Zach Aston-Reese but up front the 20th-ranked Huskies have three returning 20-goal scorers in Adam Gaudette (26-26—52), Nolan Stevens (injured much of last season, 20-22—42 in 2016), and Dylan Sikura (21-36—57). All six starting defensemen return, led by Garret Cockerill (7-26—33). Madigan said there will be competition in goal, where incumbent Ryan Ruck (38 wins in two years) will be challenged by freshman Cayden Primeau, son of former NHLer Keith. Also new to the roster is Eeto Selanne, son of NHL all-time great Teemu.

MERRIMACK

Coach: Mark Dennehy (94-77-29, 13th year).

Last year: 15-16-6, 8-8-6 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to UNH in Hockey East first round.

Outlook: Dennehy believes the Warriors will be in the thick of it, despite losing incumbent goalie Collin Delia (signed with Blackhawks) and forward Hampus Gustafsson (15-11—26). The Warriors return 75 percent of their scoring. Brett Seney (10-21—31), the leading scorer for the last three years, is back to see if he can do it again as a senior. He tied for fifth in the nation with six game-winning goals. Senior Jace Hennig had 8 goals and 22 points last season. Five of six defensemen return, including Johnathan Kovacevic, who had 19 points as a freshman, fourth on the team. Junior Drew Vogler is the returning goalie (2.85 GAA, .897 save percentage), but he will be challenged by freshman North Carolinian Logan Hallady (via Bloomington of the USHL).

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Coach: Dick Umile, 586–353–108, 28th year.

Last year: 15-20-5, 7-11-4 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to Lowell in Hockey East quarterfinals.

Outlook: In Umile’s final go-round as coach of the Wildcats, expect the team to improve on last year’s 10th-place finish. “We have a good senior class, good leadership, and I think it’s going to be a very good group,’’ Umile said. “It’a tough league, almost like two brackets. We’re looking forward to getting back in that top bracket where we used to be all the time.” Seniors Michael McNicholas (13-30—43) and Jason Salvaggio (23-13—36) are the top returning scorers. The freshman class includes three NHL draft picks: defenseman Max Gildon, taken in the third round by Florida; defenseman Benton Maass, taken by Washington in the sixth; and goalie Mike Robinson, taken by San Jose in the third. Senior Daniel Tirone had a 2.99 GAA and a .910 save percentage last year.

VERMONT

Coach: Kevin Sneddon, 224-239-68, 15th year.

Last year: 20-13-5, 10-8-5 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to BC in Hockey East quarterfinals.

Outlook: The Catamounts have averaged more than 19 wins per season over the last four years, with three 20-plus campaigns. They finished in sixth place last season but lost leading scorer Mario Puskarich (29 points) and top-scoring defenseman Rob Hamilton (10-11—21). Returning are sophomore Ross Colton, a Hockey East All-Rookie selection, who tied for second in scoring with 12 goals and 27 points with rising junior Brian Bowen (12-15—27). Among the recruits is forward Bryce Misley, a Minnesota draft pick. Goalie Stefano Lekkas was 17-10-5 in his freshman year with a 2.61 GAA and .909 save percentage.

MAINE

Coach: Red Gendron, 49-82-17, fifth year.

Last year: 11-21-5, 5-15-2 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to Vermont in Hockey East first round.

Outlook: Last season’s Nos. 3 and 4 scorers, senior Nolan Vesey (13-10—23) and sophomore Chase Pearson (14-8—22), return to pace the Black Bears offense, hoping to improve on last year’s 11th-place finish. There is experience in goal in junior Rob McGovern (3.02 GAA, .911 save percentage).

CONNECTICUT

Coach: Mike Cavanaugh, 51-70-23, fifth year.

Last year: 12-16-8, 8-10-4 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to Northeastern in Hockey East first round.

Outlook: The Huskies are coming off a year in which they collected their most conference wins (8) and points (20) while finishing ninth in their fourth season in the conference. UConn lost scoring star Tage Thompson (19-13—32) to the Blues. That leaves junior Maxim Letunov (7-20—27) to spark the offense. Adam Huska was 7-9-4 in goal as a freshman with a 2.87 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

UMASS

Coach: Greg Carvel, 5-29-2, second year.

Last year: 5-29-2, 2-19-1 Hockey East.

Postseason: Lost to Providence in Hockey East first round.

Outlook: After last season’s last-place finish, the Minutemen hope that adding defenseman Cale Makar, a fourth-round pick in the NHL Draft and the highest pick in UMass history, can spark the team. A freshman goalie, Matt Murray, is competing for the top spot. Carvel has brought in nearly a whole group of freshmen as the second-year mentor tries to upgrade the team.

COMPILED BY BARBARA MATSON

And the other Division 1 team in Boston:

HARVARD

Coach: Ted Donato, 204-186-48, 14th year.

Last year: 28-6-2, 16-4-2 ECAC.

Postseason: Lost to Duluth in NCAA semifinals.

Outlook: The fourth-ranked Crimson lost four top-notch scorers: Alexander Kerfoot (16-29—45), Sean Malone (18-24—42), Tyler Moy (22-23—45), and Luke Esposito (16-20—36), so to get back to the Frozen Four, they will be forced to lean heavily on Bruins prospect Ryan Donato (21-19—40), a junior. Eight freshmen have joined up, including Jack Donato (Dexter, Cape Cod Whalers), Ryan’s younger brother. Other new forwards are Jack Badini (Greenwich, USHL’s Chicago Steel), Mitchell Perreault (Sioux Falls Stampede), and Benjamin Solin (Exeter, Nanaimo Clippers). On defense, Harvard adds Benjamin Foley of Edina, Minn., Nick Azar (Tri-City Storm), and Reilly Walsh (Proctor, U18 Team USA). Sophomore Adam Fox (6-34—40) paces the defense after leading the nation in scoring among defensemen. Senior Merrick Madsen (2.11 GAA, .923 save percentage) had a strong finish, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in both the ECAC tournament and the NCAA East Regional.

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