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Hockey East roundup: BC, BU pull out big wins; Woes continue for Maine

Boston College 3, Notre Dame 1
The top-ranked Eagles held on for a close win in their toughest test of the season to date, topping the rival Irish at Kelley Rink to capture the John "Snooks" Kelley-Charles "Lefty" Smith Trophy for the first time since 2009. Sophomore Johnny Gaudreau scored twice for the Eagles, including an empty-net sealer with 3.3 seconds to play. Senior captain Pat Mullane opened the scoring at 4:41 of the middle stanza, netting his fourth of the year. A pair of defensemen, senior Patrick Wey and rookie Michael Matheson, added helpers on the Eagles’ second-period goals, respectively. Notre Dame third-year goaltender Steven Summerhays dropped his third game of the season, making 19 saves, including ten in the second period. BC senior Parker Milner allowed a single goal on the 20 shots he saw, improving to an impressive 7-1-0. With the win, the Eagles crack the win column for the seventh-consecutive game and the 26th in the last 27. Rookie Thomas DiPauli scored the lone goal for the Irish at 7:10 of the third. The Maroon and Gold carry its perch atop the national rankings into Sunday’s mega-rivalry game with Boston University at Agganis Arena. With a victory to conclude the weekend, Milner would earn the 50th triumph of his career.

Boston University 3, Merrimack 1
Senior captain Wade Megan paced the offense with a goal and two assists as the Terriers posted their second consecutive victory on enemy soil at Lawler Arena. Freshman Matt O’Connor continued his stellar rookie campaign for the Scarlet and White, making 34 saves to tie a career-high in improving to a perfect 5-0-0. Fellow rookie Matt Grzelcyk added two more assists to bring his season total to seven, while Ahti Oksanen scored his second goal of the year just 1:22 into the middle period to open the scoring. Senior John Heffernan was quick to pot for the Warriors, doing so for the second time this year with a power-play strike 14 seconds into the third period, that that was all they could muster against O’Connor. Between the Merrimack pipes, junior Sam Marotta was respectable in a 22-save performance, while falling to 3-2-0. The Warriors conclude a three-game homestand on Saturday night as they host Connecticut in North Andover.

UMass-Lowell 2, Maine 1
The River Hawks continued the struggles of the Maine Black Bears as junior Doug Carr made 24 saves in his second win of the season at Tsongas Center. Despite taking its show on the road, Maine dropped its seventh decision in as many games while falling to a dismal 1-9-0 and for the first time in the last five games in Lowell. Things were not all down for the Black Bears as Ben Hutton open the scoring with his first goal as a collegian – a power-play strike with five seconds remaining in the opening period. With Maine's struggles have come a nearly-anemic special teams unit as it had converted on just one of its first 44 attempts through nine games. Carr would only allow one blemish, however, as the offense posted a pair early in the second period, thanks to senior captain Riley Wetmore and junior Josh Holmstrom. Maine junior Martin Ouellette was strong in net with 23 saves, but fell for the third time. The two teams complete the weekend on Saturday. UML looks to capture the season series for the second time in as many years with another victory, which would be its fourth win over Maine in the last five meetings.

Massachusetts 4, Providence 0
Sophomore Kevin Boyle made an easy 17 saves in his first-career shutout at Mullins Center, while junior Michael Pereira also burst back onto the scoresheet with a goal and two assists for the Minutemen. With the loss, Providence was blanked for the second game in a row and for the first time against UMass since 2004. Pereira's tally opened the scoring at 4:27 of the second and extended the Minutemen's streak to seven straight games with a power play goal, matching the program's longest such streak since 2003-04. Freshman Jon Gillies fell to 4-4-1 and made 28 saves in the loss as the Friars, which were considerably out-shot, 32-17, while losing 42 of 66 face-offs.

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