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Hockey East roundup: Merrimack wins league game at UVM; Two more wins over ECAC on Saturday

Merrimack 4, Vermont 1
The Merrimack Warriors put together a strong road effort to open the 2013 portion of the season schedule in beating the host Vermont Catamounts in Burlington by a three-goal margin. With their fifth conference win of the season, the Warriors jump above .500 and sit in fifth place in the Hockey East standings with one game in hand on Providence for the fourth and final home-ice position. The Blue and Gold certainly has had UVM's number in recent years as it improved to 9-0-3 in the last 12 games in the head-to-head series, including a 4-0-2 mark on the road. Sophomores Connor Toomey and Kyle Singleton put the game away early as they scored two goals in a span of just over five minutes in the middle stages of the opening period. Junior Sam Marotta finished the game with 23 saves as he earned his fourth win of the season for the Warriors, allowing a single goal to rookie Jacob Fallon on a power play 6:56 into the second period. In the losing effort, rookie Brody Hoffman continued his workhorse mentality with 19 saves for the Catamounts. On a different note, Merrimack senior Kyle Bigos took a roughing call late in the 14th minute of the third period to tie Tom Costa '96 for most penalty minutes in school history with 400. That mark is just four shy of the Hockey East conference mark set by Northeastern's Rico Rossi '88. Merrimack returns home to J. Thom Lawler Arena next weekend for a pair of important league home games against Boston University and Maine, while UVM hosts a pair of games against UMass-Lowell.

New Hampshire 5, RPI 2
Eight different Wildcats scored goals and sophomore Casey DeSmith made 20 saves as the Engineers were dropped by a second consecutive Hockey East opponent in front of the Whittemore Center crowd. UNH improved to 13-3-2 on the season, using three goals from the blue line and a pair of assists from third-liners Dan Correale and Jay Camper to pace the offense. RPI sophomore Curtis Leonard scored both goals as he was the lone visitor to solve DeSmith in UNH's second victory in as many games. As far as forwards were concerned, a pair of good ones led the offense for the Wildcats as senior John Henrion and junior Jeff Silengo found the back of the net past New York native and sophomore Scott Diebold. The No. 4 Wildcats will be the eyes of Hockey East next weekend as they face No. 2 Boston College in a home-and-home series, which begins on Friday in Chestnut Hill.

UMass-Lowell 6, Clarkson 2
Senior Riley Wetmore found the back of the net twice as the River Hawks put together a much more complete effort at Cheel Arena to complete a weekend sweep of the ECAC foe Golden Knights. With the win, UML enters next weekend's series at Vermont with a 9-7-1 record, including a five-game winning streak that dates back shutting out Northeastern on Dec. 8 at Tsongas Center. Additionally, junior defenseman Chad Ruhwedel posted a multi-point game of his own as he scored shorthanded just 3:44 into the first period and assisted on Wetmore's goal just 17 seconds into the middle frame. In his fifth win of the season and second in as many games, junior Doug Carr was strong as he posted 21 saves to lead the 'Hawks. UML, which also scored a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes of Friday's 5-1 victory, extended its streak of 23 straight and 29-of-30 successful penalty kills with a 3-for-3 outing.

Mercyhurst 5, Maine 2
Sophomore Connor Leen scored his team-best fifth goal of the season as the Black Bears returned to the home confines of Orono's Alfond Arena in a disappointing loss to the Mercyhurst Lakers, just a night after Maine opened the series with a 2-1 win in Portland. Rookie Matt Morris dropped his first-career game, despite making 28 saves between the Maine pipes. Junior New Yorker Daniel O'Donoghue was a thorn in the side of the Black Bear defense as he posted a hat trick and factored into the other two goals with assists. Maine travels to the Bay State next weekend for games at Northeastern and Merrimack.

Bentley 6, Northeastern 3
Junior Cody Ferriero posted two more goals for the Huskies, but the visiting Falcons rallied for three goals in the third period to tie the all-time series between the teams at 2-2 with a victory at Matthews Arena. The Essex, Mass. native, who was able to solve stellar Bentley junior Branden Komm (45 saves) twice, has now scored six goals in his last two games after starting with just one over the first ten games of the season. Junior Robbie Vrolyk also scored in the loss, while the Falcons were paced by a pair of tallies from senior Brett Hartung and a pair of helpers from Division I scoring leader Brett Gensler in the contest. NU senior Chris Rawlings made 26 stops in the defeat and is now just six short of Brad Thiessen '09 for second all-time.

Minnesota State 4, Providence 0
The Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Minn. was not a happy place for the Friars this weekend as they were shut down by the host Mavericks, falling for the second straight night in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Ridgefield, Conn. native and senior Russ Stein made his third consecutive start in the Friar net and turned in a career high 33 saves, while senior Tim Schaller led the offense with seven shots on goal. Zach Palmquist posted two assists to pace the MSU attack. The Friars return to action in a home-and-home set with UMass next weekend.

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