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Hockey East Weekend Preview: BU, Providence look to rebound

Nate Leaman PC Matt Dewkett

Last weekend was full of disappointment for the two preseason favorites in Hockey East. Boston University was swept at home by Minnesota State and Providence blew a 3-0 lead in its home opener against Boston College.

Bouncing back this weekend is important for both teams. The Terriers square off with Connecticut for a home-and-home series while the Friars head to the North Country to face St. Lawrence and Clarkson.

BU has a chance to bounce back and pick up four key league points against a UConn squad that has struggled in the early going. Mike Cavanaugh’s team went 1-1 last weekend, but faced a three-goal deficit in their win against American International. David Quinn won’t have to remind his team what could happen if they don’t take the Huskies seriously. Last season, BU was blanked, 4-0, at Agganis Arena by UConn.

Providence plays St. Lawrence Friday and Clarkson Saturday. The Saints are winless on the season while the Golden Knights are ranked tenth in the nation following a 3-0-1 start. Nate Leaman said after Sunday’s loss that his team executed better on the road. Skating out of Appleton and Cheel with two wins would be a major accomplishment considering the difficulty of the trip.

UMass Lowell, PC’s travel partner to the North Country this weekend, will look to build a winning streak following an 0-3 start. The River Hawks got off the schneid Saturday with a 5-2 win over Omaha. It will be interesting to see if Norm Bazin goes with Christoffer Hernberg or gives last year’s starter, Tyler Wall, a chance at redemption.

Players to Watch

With nine Hockey East teams playing nonconference games this weekend, fans will have a chance to get a glimpse at some elite players they don’t usually see in league rinks.

Quinn Hughes, Michigan (vs. UVM)

The 2018 NHL Draft prospect is expected to be selected in the first half of the first round. Hughes is a dynamic skater with poise and vision with the puck on his stick. The freshman is a U.S. NTDP alum who will almost certainly play a key role for the Americans at the 2018 World Junior Championship.

Mason Jobst, Ohio State (at UMass)

The junior center is on the smaller side, but his speed and skill have the interest of several NHL organizations. A native of Speedway, Ind., Jobst has two goals and two assists over the Buckeyes first four games. As an undrafted invitee, he attended NHL Development Camp with the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins. He could be fun to watch on the big sheet at the Mullins Center this weekend.

Jimmy Schuldt, St. Cloud State (vs. BC)

Schuldt isn’t in the same class as Minnesota State defenseman Daniel Brickley, but he’s in the next group of top undrafted blue liners playing college hockey. The junior from Minnetonka, Minn. is the Huskies’ leading scorer with four goals and three assists through three games. He attended NHL Development Camp with the Montreal Canadiens.

Grant Hutton and Kiefer Sherwood, Miami (at Maine)

Hutton, a junior defenseman from Carmel, Ind., has a goal and an assist through two games, both losses to Providence. He’s a big blue liner that has free agency interest. He attended NHL Development Camp with Toronto and Las Vegas.

Sherwood is the brother of former BU commit Kole Sherwood, who opted for major junior. He was held scoreless in the two losses to PC, but he’s a lethal weapon on the power play. He plays with pace, has a good shot, and comes off the wall with force.

Riley Tufte, Minnesota Duluth (vs. Merrimack)

The 2016 first round pick of the Dallas Stars is a big winger who was two goals for Scott Sandelin’s Bulldogs. UMD is off to a frustrating 1-2-1 start after a run to the Frozen Four. The team was hit with a lot of departures during the off-season. Tufte and brothers Joey and Mike Anderson are the three top NHL prospects for Duluth.

Jake Kielly, Clarkson (vs. UMass Lowell, Providence)

The sophomore goaltender has a .963 through four games. The former USHL Clark Cup Champion with Tri-City has good size and could be a big reason the River Hawks and Friars have problems at Cheel Arena this weekend.

Mason Bergh, Colorado College (at UNH)

The team’s leading goal scorer a year ago, he lit the lamp 14 times. Bergh has four goals already this season. The junior forward from Eden Prairie, Minn. is the biggest offensive threat against the Wildcats starting 6-0.