Hockey East schedule: Full slate of league series openers on tap Friday

Hockey East is back in action for a full weekend of league games beginning on Friday night. The slate marks the first time this season that all ten conference teams will face-off in head-to-head competition in the same three-day span, through Sunday.

After returning to the top of the national rankings with two victories last weekend, the Boston College Eagles play arguably the most competitive clash of the weekend with a Friday-Sunday doubleheader with the No. 11 UMass-Lowell River Hawks. The Maroon and Gold captured two of three meetings in last year's season series, but UML earned a 3-2 victory in the most recent meeting on Dec. 9, 2011.

Doug Carr and the River Hawks enter the weekend off a 3-1 victory on Saturday at Colorado College, which saw the junior netminder from Hanover, Mass. make 27 saves in his first win of the year. The effort, which also included five saves in relief of freshman Connor Hellebuyck in Friday's 5-1 loss at Denver, earned him co-Defensive Player of the Week honors by the conference.

Carr's classmate Josh Holmstrom has worked his way onto the scoresheet in all three games this season, while freshman Ryan McGrath tallied his first point as a River Hawk with the go-ahead goal over the Tigers.

In BC's come-from-behind victory at UMass last Friday, senior captain Pat Mullane set a career watermark with two goals and an assist to pace the Eagles and earn his 100th-career point in the process. With the 5-4 victory in overtime, the Eagles came from three goals down to win for the first time since winning at Providence on Feb. 28, 2009.

Sophomore Johnny Gaudreau, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week, scored the winning goal and an assist in the win over UMass, while going off for the same amount in Saturday's 3-0 shutout of Northeastern at Kelley Rink.

The No. 15 Huskies and No. 12 New Hampshire Wildcats hook together for the first time this season with the teams moving in opposite directions. Heading into Friday's opener at Whittemore Center, the Wildcats are undefeated after handing BU its first loss to the tune of 4-1 on Saturday. BC senior Parker Milner's 26 saves stymied the Huskies in their first loss, 3-0.

UNH, which captured two of the three head-to-head meetings a season ago, has scored on the power play in each of its first three games this season and has killed off 14 of 15 penalties. In spite of the two victories, NU head coach Jim Madigan posted his first win behind the bench in a 4-0 decision over UNH last Oct. 14, which was also the only match-up at Matthews Arena.

The 'Cats are off to their best start since 2008 when they went undefeated through four games. They join just Holy Cross and Denver as the lone unbeaten and untied teams in all of college hockey. Sophomore Casey DeSmith is a co-conference Defensive Player of the Week after making 24 saves in Saturday's win, including 13 in the third period.

No. 13 Boston University welcomes rival UMass to Agganis Arena to begin the weekend on Friday, before trekking back to Mullins Center. The Terriers and Minutemen split their three meetings last year, 1-1-1, skating in back-to-back overtime games to close October 2011.

Minuteman senior Rocco Carzo tallied a pair of goals in Friday's overtime loss to BC, while sophomore Kevin Boyle looks to repeat the 33-save performance he pitched in his 3-2 victory at Agganis on Feb. 10. Carzo notched the first multi-goal game of his career in his first appearance as co-captain.

BU freshman Matt O'Connor is off to a strong start with a 1.41 goals-against average and .953 save percentage over 85:20 between the pipes. The forward line of senior Wade Megan and sophomores Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues has combined for eight total points thus far, while each has collected a +3 rating.

Rookie of the Week Jon Gillies comes into this weekend's series with Maine at Schneider Arena fresh off a 53-save set over two games at Miami. The Black Bears took the first two meetings of the year between the teams at Alfond Arena in October, but his Providence Friars earned a 4-3 win on Feb. 10. Three of the past six meetings between Maine and Providence have reached overtime, while three of four have been decided by a single goal.

The Black Bears are just 1-4-0 on the season so far after suffering consecutive home losses last weekend to St. Lawrence, despite holding a shots on goal advantage in four of the first five games. Junior Mark Anthoine leads Maine with appearances in 60 straight contests, while four of eight rookie skaters have recorded a point.

For the first time this season, Merrimack returns to home Lawler Arena for a pair of games with Vermont. The Warriors swept the 2011-12 season series clean from the Catamounts, while owning a 7-0-2 mark in the last nine meetings.

The Green and Gold hit the ice for the first time in ten days, looking to avenge losing a point in a 1-1 tie at UMass-Lowell. Sophomore Colin Markison scored UVM's lone goal in the contest.

MC dropped straight games to both Alaska teams last weekend in Fairbanks and enters the weekend with a 1-3-0 mark, including a conference schedule-opening loss to Northeastern on Oct. 10. Sophomore Josh Myers has started off his campaign very strong with two assists last weekend and a total of five points on the season, including at least one in each game.

Friday, October 26
Boston College at UMass-Lowell, 7 p.m.
Maine at Providence, 7 p.m. (Cox)
Northeastern at New Hampshire, 7:30 p.m. (WBIN)
Vermont at Merrimack, 7:30 p.m.
Massachusetts at Boston University, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 27
Boston University at Massachusetts, 7 p.m. (CBS3)
Vermont at Merrimack, 7 p.m.
New Hampshire at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Maine at Providence, 7 p.m.

Sunday, October 28
UMass-Lowell at Boston College, 4 p.m.

Joshua Kummins is the Hockey East beat writer and a weekend editor for SB Nation Boston. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

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