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Hockey East Weekend Preview: Northeastern and Boston University square off in Beanpot Preview, Massachusetts travels to Conte Forum, Merrimack and Maine play two

Starting Thursday night, the Hockey East weekend kicks off with a great game between the Friars and Riverhawks, who carry a seven game winning streak into the game. Friday night, Northeastern will travel to Agganis to take on No. 9 BU in a preview of the Beanpot Tournament and on Saturday, No. 18 Lowell will take on the Terriers in this weekends marquee matchup.

#18 UMass-Lowell vs. Providence (Thursday)

Coming into an early start to the weekend, the Riverhawks are on a tear. Norm Bazin and his squad have won their past seven games, and are creating quite a stir in Lowell. Their next opponent, Providence will look to put a halt to an ideal start of the second half, and they have a realistic shot at doing so. This past Monday, freshman goaltender Jon Gillies of the Friars collected Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Week honors after his role in a weekend sweep of UMass-Amherst. So far this season, Gillies has posted a 1.95 goals against average and .931 save percentage, ranking him first in the Hockey East in both categories.

In Lowell, all facets of the team’s play are running smoothly. Offensively, the team is led by sophomore Scott Wilson (Pittsburgh Penguins) with 18 points (7+11=18). Earlier this week, Wilson was named Hockey East Player of the Week following a 5 point weekend against Vermont. Defensively, Freshman netminder Connor Hellebuyck (Winnepeg Jets) has played well when called upon, and appears to have emerged as the new starting goalie in Lowell. In 7 starts, Hellebuyck has a 1.69 goals against average complemented by a .939 save percentage.

Merrimack at Maine (Friday/Saturday)

After meeting this past Saturday, the Black Bears and Warriors will square off for two games in Orono, Maine. this weekend. In the previous match-up, Merrimack defeated Maine with ease, scoring six goals to the Black Bears zero. Junior goaltender Sam Marotta posted 30 saves and a shutout in the victory. So far this season, Marotta has been mediocre, posting a .924 save percentage while allowing 2.15 goals per game. Offensively, the Warriors are led by junior Mike Collins with 24 points (11+13=24) on the year. Last Saturday against the Black Bears, Collins posted two goals as well as an assist in the win.

As for Maine, the Black Bears have not shown any improvement following their return from winning the Florida College Hockey Classic. After defeating Minnesota-Duluth and Cornell to win the tournament championship, there appeared to be a new team that would take the ice at Alfrond Arena. However, following the tournament, the Black Bears have only picked up one win, splitting a weekend series with Mercyhurst, tying Northeastern, and losing to Merrimack last weekend.

Northeastern vs. #9 Boston University (Friday)

Friday night’s tilt between the Terriers and Huskies will give Hockey East fans a little taste of one of the most prestigious College Hockey tournaments in the nation. Looking forward, on February 4, these two teams will meet for the second time of the season in the opening round of the Beanpot Tournament. So far this season, Northeastern has been led by freshman Kevin Roy (Anaheim Ducks). The first year forward has posted 20 points (9+11=20) so far this season, while being complemented by senior Cody Ferriero (San Jose Sharks) with 13 points (7+6=13) of his own. In net, senior netminder Chris Rawlings has proved solid with a 2.34 goals against average and .927 save percentage.

On the other side of the ice skates the Terriers. Jack Parker’s squad has been excellent so far this season, especially with their young, inexperienced players that have been forced to grow up fast. Apart from freshman stand-outs Matt Grzelcyk (Boston Bruins), Danny O’Regan (San Jose Sharks) , and Matt O’Connor, the Terriers have also seen production from some upper classmen. Cason Hohmann, who leads the team with 20 points (6+14=20) and Wade Megan (Florida Panthers)(11+7=18) have proven strong all year and will look to test Rawlings Friday night at Agganis Arena.

#2 Boston College vs. UMass Amherst (Friday)

Although the Eagles have defeated the Minutemen in their two previous match-ups this season, the victories have not been pretty. In the first bout, UMass went up on the defending national champions 3-0 through two periods and entered the final frame with a tight grasp on the game. Then the Eagles woke up. Led by senior forward Pat Mullane, the Eagles tied the game at four goals apiece with just a few minutes remaining and Johnny Gaudreau hit home an overtime rebound to escape Amherst with a victory. In the second meeting, the Eagles snuck out another victory after Patrick Brown scored with just 3:37 remaining to give BC a 3-2 advantage.

The Minutemen were riding high into last weekend following a tournament victory at the Ledyard Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H. However, UMass was slapped back to reality after getting swept by Providence in a weekend home and home series. As for the Eagles, they split a weekend series with No. 3 New Hampshire last weekend including a 5-2 victory on Friday at home, and a 2-1 loss on Saturday in Durham.

#2 Boston College vs. Northeastern (Saturday)

On Saturday, Boston College will head down the road to Matthews Arena to take on the Huskies in their third match-up of the season. In the early goings of the season, the Huskies saw the defending national champions early on in their schedule. In the first game, Northeastern upended the Eagles with a 3-1 victory at home, but dropped the second, getting shut out 3-0.

Providence vs. #3 New Hampshire (Saturday)

Following their toughest weekend facing the No. 2 Boston College Eagles, the Wildcats schedule doesn’t get much easier this weekend when they will take on the Friars. Tim Leaman’s squad has been the surprise of the Hockey East this season, posting a 9-8-3(7-4-2), and sitting comfortably in fourth place. Saturday will be the first of three meetings between the two sides this season. Last year, New Hampshire took all three victories including an overtime win in early February.

There is a reason that Dick Umile’s team has been highly ranked all season. The Wildcats have demonstrated an excellent balance of a highly skilled offense, complemented by a strong defense that has allowed UNH to accumulate a record of 14-4-2(9-3-1) this season. Offensively, Kevin Goumas leads the team and the league with 28 points (9+19=28), while defensively, goaltender Casey DeSmith has allowed 2.05 goals per game and posted a save percentage of .928.

#18 UMass Lowell vs. #9 Boston University (Saturday)

Shaping up to be the marquee matchup of the weekend, the Terriers will host the Riverhawks on Saturday night and try to put a halt to their recent winning streak. This will be the first of three match-ups between the two teams this season. Last year, the Riverhawks got the best of the Terriers, beating them twice out of three games.

Vermont vs. Penn State (Saturday)

Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, P.A. the Catmounts will take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff. So far this season, Penn State has posted a record of 8-12 in their first season as a D1 hockey program. Statistically, the Nittany Lions have been led by Casey Bailey and David Glen with 18 points apiece.

As for the Catamounts, after getting swept by the UMass Lowell Riverhawks last weekend they are standing at 6-11-4(3-8-4) and seventh place in Hockey East. Offensively, Kevin Sneddon’s squad is led by senior captain Chris McCarthy with 18 points (6+12=18) on the year. Freshman goaltender Brody Hoffman has played well in his first year, posting a 2.95 goals against average with a save percentage of .902.