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Hockey East Weekend Preview: The Holy War and The Battle of Comm Ave

Boston College takes center stage yet again as Hockey East's best battles Notre Dame on Friday and BU on Sunday.

An image that will warm the hearts of Terriers fans during these cold, cold days.
An image that will warm the hearts of Terriers fans during these cold, cold days.
Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

After last weekend’s split between Boston University and North Dakota, Boston College will take their crack at slaying a top tier non-Hockey East team. At the pinnacle of their respective leagues, the Eagles will host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Friday Night at Conte Forum. The up and coming Providence Friars will travel to Amherst, Mass. on Friday night to take on the stingy UMass Minutemen, and the UMass Lowell Riverhawks will play a home and home series with the sluggish Maine Black Bears. On Sunday, Hockey East fans will see yet another edition of the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue, in this season’s first tilt between Boston College and Boston University.

#7 Notre Dame at #1 Boston College (Friday)

The Fighting Irish will be traveling out to Boston to take on the Eagles Friday night at Conte Forum. This season, the Irish have accumulated a 6-2 record overall and 3-1 in the CHA. Led by junior forward Anders Lee (New York Islanders), with five goals and four assists, Notre Dame will look to get the puck past Boston College’s senior goaltender Parker Milner.

The Eagles have started this season just as they finished the last one, difficult to beat. This season, Boston College sits on top of not only of Hockey East, but the nation as well. With a 6-1 overall record, the Eagles have been led by senior forward Pat Mullane, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Month, and sophomore Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames).

Providence at UMass (Friday, Saturday)

In a game which features a first year goalie, and a first year coach, the Friars will travel to Amherst on Friday night to drop the puck against the Minutemen. First year coach John Michelletto has been impressive this year. Although having a 2-4 record overall and 1-4 in Hockey East, there is a feeling that the tides are about to turn in Amherst. Last weekend, the Minutemen knocked off the then unbeaten University of New Hampshire Wildcats with an overtime game winning goal by senior defenseman Darren Rowe.

The Friars have been catching some eyes around the Hockey East. With a 4-3-1 overall record and 3-2 in Hockey East, Nate Leaman’s squad is comfortably sitting tied for fourth place with Boston University. Freshman goaltender Jon Gillies(Calgary Flames) has been stellar so far this season, posting a .932 save percentage and averaging 1.80 goals against per game. Offensively, the Friars look to sophomore forwards Ross Mauermann and Shane Luke who have six and five points respectively.

#11 BU at Merrimack (Friday)

Picking up a pair of victories last week against Northeastern, the Warriors are carrying momentum into another tough match-up this weekend. Merrimack will play host to Jack Parker’s Terriers.

Although sophomore Cason Hohmann has led the Terriers this year with eight points (three goals, five assists), BU has been seeing a lot of production from an unlikely source. The Terrier freshmen have produced this year. Forward Danny O’Regan (San Jose Sharks) leads the first year players with seven points (4 goals, 3 assists)while being complemented by classmates Matt Grzelcyk (5 assists) and Matt Lane (2 goals, 1 assist).

In the net for Boston University sits freshman Matt O’Connor. The Canadian beat out classmate Sean Maguire (Pittsburgh Penguins) for the starting spot and has proved himself worthy by posting a .942 save percentage in five games.

As for Merrimack, the Warriors are tied for second place with UNH in Hockey East with a 3-1-1 record, 4-3-1 overall. Junior forward Mike Collins leads not only Merrimack but also the league with his 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists). On the blue-line, senior defenseman Kyle Bigos (Edmonton Oilers) has been shutting down opposing offenses, making the duo of goaltenders Sam Marotta and Rasmus Tirronen’s jobs easy.

Merrimack vs. University of Connecticut (Saturday)

The Warriors will face off against future Hockey East team UConn on Saturday. UConn has had a difficult start to this season, holding a record of 0-4-1 thus far.

#17 Lowell vs. Maine

In a battle to avoid last place in the early goings of the Hockey East season, Lowell will play host to Maine this weekend. The two sides have watched themselves slip and slide down the conference standings. For Lowell, it owes to a lack of in-conference games. However, that is not an excuse for Maine.

After having a 24-13-1 season last year, earning an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, the Riverhawks have started off the season slow. Lowell has started off 1-3-1 overall with a Hockey East record of 0-2-1. Riverhawks goaltender Doug Carr has posted a .923 save percentage thus far. This weekend might be a good chance for the Riverhawks to get some points in the Hockey East and begin their climb back to the top.

As bad as the Riverhawks have been, the Black Bears have been worse. Starting off 1-8 overall and 0-4 inHockey East, things couldn’t get much more dismal in Orono. After losing line-mate and Hobey Baker Award finalist Spencer Abbott (Toronto Maple Leafs) to graduation, Joey Diamond has not been the same player he was in years previous. Diamond has only four points this season, which leads the Black Bears.

Vermont at #9 UNH

On Saturday night, the Catamounts will take a trip south to the Whittemore Center to take on the Wildcats. Despite an overtime loss to UMass last weekend, the Wildcats have been difficult to beat. Boasting a 5-1-1 overall record and 3-1-1 in Hockey East, the Wildcats sit just outside the top spot, tied for second place with Merrimack. A lot of the Wildcats’ success has been due to excellent play between the pipes. Reigning Hockey East Goalie of the Month Casey DeSmith has been lights out. The sophomore has a .947 save percentage and averages 1.54 goals allowed per game while starting all seven games for the Wildcats.

The Catamounts have been shaky this season. With a 1-2-2 record both overall and in the Hockey East, Vermont sits towards the bottom in seventh place. Senior forward Chris McCarthy leads the Cats with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) while reigning Hockey East co-rookie of the Week Brody Hoffman has been decent in net (.929 save percentage).

Alabama-Huntsville at Northeastern

This season, the Huskies have been shaky. With a 2-4-1 record, the Huskies have been led by freshman Kevin Roy (Anaheim Ducks) with six points (3 goals, 3 assists). In net, the Huskies goalie tandem of seniors Chris Rawlings (.914 save %, 2.71 GAA) and Bryan Mountain (.947 save %, 1.92 GAA) has been strong.

As fans have learned from their history of taking on Hockey East teams, Alabama-Huntsville is not very good. Standing at 0-7-1 overall this season, the Chargers have struggled thus far. The Huskies should handle UAH, getting the third and fourth liners some much needed experience.

#1 Boston College at #11 Boston University

On Sunday night Hockey East fans will get what they have been patiently waiting for this season. The first "Battle of Commonwealth Avenue". Boston College will travel to Boston University and Agganis Arena to take on their cross-town archrival Terriers. Last season, the two sides faced each other four times, each taking two victories.

The most notable of the games took place in the 60th annual Beanpot Tournament. In the Beanpot Championship game, the Eagles edged the Terriers 3-2 in overtime, finished with a game winning goal from now junior forward Bill Arnold (Calgary Flames). This game could be much of the same story, with the conclusion coming down to the final minutes.

As an added bonus, the game will be broadcast by NESN and will be called by Jack Edwards and Andy Brinkley.