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Hockey East Preview: Boston College, Boston University and UNH Looking Forward to Big Series

BC - Lowell, UNH - Northeastern and BU - UMass highlight the marquee for the first full weekend of Hockey East action of the season.

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

It's the rare early-season weekend in Hockey East when all ten teams are in action against each other all weekend long, and while there's a lot of hockey to be played ahead, we may start to see some separation between the men and the boys in New England.

While Maine and Vermont travel south for the weekend to take on Providence and Merrimack, respectively, it's the home-and-home battles that will have our eyes Friday and Saturday night.

#1 Boston College (2-1-0) vs. #12 Lowell (1-1-1, 0-0-1 HEA) (at Lowell Friday, at BC Sunday)

The Eagles righted their leaking ship last weekend with a come-from-behind win at UMass and a dominating 3-0 shutout of Northeastern in their home opener to scoot back into first place in the conference, while Lowell traveled west and, after getting chewed up and spit out by Denver, redeemed themselves with a win over Colorado College.

RiverHawks netminder Doug Carr was recognized for his efforts last weekend when he was named Hockey East's co-defensive player of the week, but he comes up against a strong test in Boston College's multi-facted attack, spearheaded by Pat Mullane, Kevin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) and reigning Hockey East Player of the Week Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames), who netter two goals and added two assists last weekend.

#11 UNH (3-0-0, 1-0-0 HEA) vs. #15 Northeastern (2-1-0) (at UNH Friday, at Northeastern Saturday)

The Huskies unseated Boston College from its perch at the top of the national standings in the Eagles' first game of the season, just four nights after Northeastern had beaten then-19th ranked Merrimack at home, but it's tough to tell if that's the type of team Northeastern will be this year or if they'll be the squad that fell on their face against the Eagles in the return match last weekend.

UNH will prove a tough test, as the Wildcats have gotten scoring from all four of their lines, not to mention from their top blue-line pairing of Connor Hardowa and Trevor van Riemsdyk. But the 'Cats aren't just about lighting the lamp; the strong blue-line presence provided by Eric Knodel (Toronto Maple Leafs) and the stellar play of Casey DeSmith between the pipes makes UNH a team that can't be taken lightly.

If Northeastern's to keep rolling, they'll need to get contributions from their freshmen again, and they'll need senior captain Vinny Saponari (Calgary Flames) to be more of a leader than he was last weekend, when he got tossed from the Boston College game. If Kevin Roy (Anaheim Ducks) can re-gain the form he showed in potting the game-winning goal in his first two collegiate games, the Huskies could be making even more noise by the end of the weekend.

#13 Boston University (1-1-0) vs. UMass (1-1-0, 0-1-0 HEA) (at BU Friday, at UMass Saturday)

The Terriers were left scratching their heads after a 4-1 loss at UNH last Saturday, and Jack Parker was adamant that his team is better than they performed in all three zones. They'll have a chance to prove it against a UMass squad that figures to be overmatched in this series, particularly if freshman netminder Sean Maguire (Pittsburgh Penguins) can get back to form.

UMass will be looking to get more production from senior forward Rocco Carzo, who netted two goals against BC last weekend, in order to stay with BU. It's likely that both Kevin Boyle and Steve Mastalerz will see time in net for the Minutemen.

Maine (1-4-0, 0-0-0 HEA) vs. Providence (1-2-1, 0-1-0 HEA)

If anyone had any questions about Maine's number 20 ranking heading into their Icebreaker opening against Notre Dame, they've been more than validated with the Black Bears' performance since. A 4-3 victory over Army the next night was followed up by a pathetic showing at home last weekend against St. Lawrence, in a series they lost by a combined score of 10-1.

Dan Sullivan hasn't been what everyone thought he would be, and Maine's forwards have found themselves trying to do too much. That doesn't bode well for a team that's coming up against reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Week John Gillies (Calgary Flames), who stopped 53 shots in two games at Miami (OH) last weekend.

Vermont (0-0-1) vs. Merrimack (1-3-0, 0-1-0 HEA)

Since roughing up then-number 5 Union on the road two-plus weeks ago, it's been a rough go for the Warriors, who lost at Northeastern and then fell twice on the road in Alaska last weekend, but their first match at Lawler Arena gives Mark Dennehy's maligned squad a chance to turn things around against a Vermont team that was picked to finish dead last in the conference.

The Catamounts held their own in their only battle of the season thus far, skating to a draw in the opening game of the season at Lowell, and Merrimack doesn't figure to be as tough a challenge.