Hockey East schedule: Busy weekend full of non-conference action, including Boston-area contests

When Thanksgiving dinner is in the rear view mirror later Thursday afternoon, Hockey East shifts its focus to the annual slate of post-holiday action, which features a healthy portion of non-conference games this weekend. Highlighting the schedule is Vermont's two-game series with perennial power Minnesota at Gutterson Fieldhouse, while Boston College hosts regional rival Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon.

UVM welcomes the Golden Gophers for the first time ever to close out a hectic stretch of five games, four at home, in nine days. The Catamounts dropped a close battle to UMass on Tuesday, but used a pair of goals from junior Chris McCarthy and more strong goaltending from rookie Brody Hoffman to oust Northeastern 3-2 on Sunday.

Minnesota took three of four points from WCHA border rival Wisconsin last weekend and heads to the East Coast for the first time since opening Boston University's beautiful Agganis Arena in the first week of Jan. 2005. In Saturday's 3-1 win over the Badgers, dynamic sophomore Kyle Rau sealed the win with an empty-netter as the team improved to 7-0 when he records a point - meaning the forward has notched a point in every win this season, but not in any loss or tie.

The consensus No. 1 Eagles host the No. 11 Big Green at Kelley Rink in the first meeting between the two teams since 2008 with a chance to extend their outstanding winning streak to double-digits. BC enters Saturday's contest with a full week off since beating Merrimack at Kelley Rink last Friday, thanks to a pair of goals from senior alternate captain Steven Whitney, including the game-winning strike from sophomore Johnny Gaudreau.

The ranking is Dartmouth's best in the USCHO poll since it was marked in that same spot to begin 2004. Young sophomore Tyler Sikura leads the Green with seven assists and 12 points and is tied for fifth in the nation with 1.5 goals per-game.

Additionally, junior Eric Robinson, a local product from Foxboro, Mass., leads Dartmouth with eight goals and is the nation's lone player averaging one goal per-game.

Off to its best start since 1968 with a 8-1-1 record, No. 3 New Hampshire heads west to face No. 14 Colorado College and No. 2 Denver in a pair of later games. The 'Cats are led by surging sophomore netminder Casey DeSmith, who has allowed just three goals in five November games.

After going 7-3-0 over the first ten games, the Tigers lost both games in a home-and-home series with the rival UD Pioneers last weekend. CC has six different players with double-digit points, led by senior William Rapuzzi with 14 points. Junior Nick Shore, a Los Angeles Kings prospect, is Denver's leader with five goals and 11 assists.

Led by two of the nation's most prolific scorers in senior Kyle Flanagan and junior Greg Carey, St. Lawrence makes the trek to Boston where the Saints make stops to former ECAC rivals Northeastern and Boston University. However, the Saints will look to disrupt a four-game winless streak, which stretches back to the opening of November and a series with Alabama-Huntsville.

The Huskies dropped two more road games at Providence and Vermont this past weekend and will still be searching for their first win away from Matthews Arena on Nov. 30. On the flip side, the Terriers look to break a quick 1-2-0 skid with the services of Matt Grzelcyk leading the charge as the nation's leading scorer amongst rookie defensemen with a goal and nine assists in ten games.

After falling victim to its third shutout in four games, Providence heads across downtown to meet rival Brown in the annual Mayor's Cup. Junior Derek Army posted his first-career hat trick in a 6-2 win over Northeastern on Friday, but the Friars fell to Quinnipiac in a rare Tuesday contest.

UMass-Lowell visited the Mullins Center on Sunday night and led by senior Riley Wetmore's hat trick, the River Hawks left with an easy 8-2 victory. On Tuesday, junior Branden Gracel cracked the goal column twice in a 3-1 UMass win over visiting Vermont. This weekend, the Minutemen see Quinnipiac make the trip to Amherst, while the River Hawks welcome Ivy foe Princeton for the third time ever.

Friday, November 23
Colgate at Merrimack, 4 p.m. (WBIN)
St. Lawrence at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Vermont, 7:05 p.m. (NESN)
New Hampshire at Colorado College, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 24
Dartmouth at Boston College, 4 p.m.
Princeton at UMass-Lowell, 4 p.m.
Providence at Brown, 4 p.m.
St. Lawrence at Boston University, 7 p.m.
Quinnipiac at Massachusetts, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Vermont, 7:05 p.m. (NESN)
New Hampshire at Denver, 9 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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