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Hockey East Roundtable

Rob McGovern
Maine sophomore Rob McGovern
Matt Dewkett

SB Nation College Hockey’s Jeff Cox and Joshua Kummins sat down to talk about the first full weekend of action in Hockey East.

What was the most surprising result of the season’s opening weekend?

Joshua Kummins: Boston College could well be in the midst of its biggest "rebuild" in years, but its win over Denver at the IceBreaker Tournament was an excellent result for Hockey East.

The Eagles ran into a hot goaltender in Air Force's Shane Starrett in their first game in Denver, but responded in a big way against the host Pioneers. It was not the fact BC won that was surprising, it was the manner in which it did. Austin Cangelosi gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the first period and scored twice unanswered after Denver tied the game.

Freshman Joe Woll, who looks to be the answer to replacing Thatcher Demko in goal, made a whopping 23 of his 40 saves in the third period to lift BC to its first win of the season, 3-1.

The Eagles might have trouble maintaining consistency after several key pieces left early, but this weekend also showed that they can still be as dangerous as just about any team in college hockey.

Jeff Cox: Maine’s sweep of Rensselaer at the cozy confines of Alfond Arena would not have raised an eyebrow a few years ago, but the Black Bears have fallen and hard times.

Picked to finish last in Hockey East by the league coaches, Maine swept RPI thanks to an influx of freshman talent and solid goaltending. The 5-1 and 4-2 victories were a good start to the season or Red Gendron’s club.

Sophomore goaltender Rob McGovern made 68 saves on 71 shots faced over the course of the two games, including several big saves to preserve a one-goal lead late in the third period on Saturday.

Saturday’s win was the first time the Black Bears had won when trailing after two periods since Nov. 1, 2014 against UMass. For a young team, it was certainly a much needed confidence boost heading into this weekend’s home series against No. 2 Quinnipiac.

Which team’s result was the most disappointing?

Kummins: New Hampshire dominated Bentley over Saturday night’s first ten minutes, but the Wildcats were basically run out of their own building by night's end. The Wildcats could not convert on six power-play opportunities in an eventual 5-1 loss, scoring just once while generating 33 shots on goal. Those numbers leave a lot to be desired up at the Whittemore Center, as does junior Danny Tirone’s goaltending after he allowed four goals on just 16 shots.

UNH needs a big year from former Malden Catholic standout Ara Nazarian in order to help replace some of the load Andrew Poturalski carried, and his first goal of the season was a positive. Other than that, there wasn’t much good for the ‘Cats.

Cox: The Wildcats weren’t the only Hockey East team to take one on the chin at home to an Atlantic Hockey foe. Merrimack came out uninspired and lost, 2-1, to Sacred Heart on Sunday afternoon.

Mark Dennehy’s club is certainly much better than the effort put forth at Lawler Rink Sunday afternoon. Merrimack was out-shot, 28-21, despite having 14 power play attempts, including four prolonged two-man advantages.

It was too late by the time Merrimack showed any sense of urgency late in the third period. The Warriors will look to get back on track this weekend with a pair of nonconference games at Clarkson and St. Lawrence.

Which freshman was most impressive?

Kummins: Patrick Harper had a seven-point night with five goals in Boston University’s first exhibition game back on Oct. 1. Prince Edward Island is not the most level opponent, but it is hard to argue with that stat line.

When a second exhibition with the U.S. Under-18 Team and the Terriers’ season opener at Colgate came, Harper’s production was still there. He found instant chemistry with sophomores Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Bobo Carpenter, scoring another hat trick less than two periods into BU’s second exhibition game and a two-goal effort to open the regular season. Exhibition numbers don’t count in season statistics, but Harper’s ten goals (to go along with three assists) over three games have come on just 13 shots.

Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows were the standouts among BU’s highly-touted freshman class, while Harper received virtually no attention. Well, you’d better be watching now.

Cox: Harper’s performance over three games, two exhibition games and the season opener at Colgate, is impossible to overlook. With the exception of a few games with Omaha in the USHL, he basically came straight to BU from prep school hockey, which is unusual these days.

The aforementioned rookie class in Orono was the key to two Black Bear victories, at least offensively, last weekend. Alpharetta, Ga. native Mitch Fossier had a hat trick Friday night then scored the game-winner on Saturday for a four-goal weekend in his collegiate debut.

Fellow rookie and Detroit Red Wings prospect Chase Pearson picked up two goals and an assist on the weekend. Florida Panthers draft pick Patrick Shea also collected his first collegiate goal.