Hockey East Conference Play to Open This Weekend

TJ FergusonCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2009

BOSTON - FEBRUARY 12:  The Boston University Terriers pose with the Beanpot trophy after their overtime win over the Boston College Eagles after the Beanpot Tournament Championship Game on February 12, 2007 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston University defeated Boston College 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Every week I will preview the upcoming Hockey East action and offer my picks for each game.  Then after the weekend is finished, I'll recap the action and let you know what went wrong with my predictions.

With the 2009-2010 college hockey season now officially underway, Hockey East is getting ready to kick off its own regular season.

While there are only two conference games scheduled for this weekend, everyone else (with the exception of #14 University of Massachusetts at Lowell Riverhawks) is playing out of conference.

The conference schedule starts at 7PM on Friday night when unranked University of Massachusetts at Amherst Minutemen host the #2 Boston University Terriers.  BU is coming off a stellar season in which they won every trophy they competed for, including the National Championship.

The Minutemen will need their goaltending to play as good as it showed it can be last year, but more consistent.  They are a group that tends to play very well against better schools, but can easily come unraveled at any moment.

One game in particular last year saw Amherst leading the Terriers by a few goals at home into the third period then squandering the lead and if they didn't lose, they had to settle for a tie.

While it would be nice to see BU lose one early and perhaps it is possible given all the players they lost, I don't think UMass has what it takes to beat a team that is out to get off to a quick start.  BU WINS 4-3

The next conference game isn't til sunday evening when #12 Boston College Eagles head up to take on #11 University of Vermont Catamounts.  This is probably the premier game of the weekend in college hockey.

The Eagles stumbled last year after winning the 2008 National Championship due largely to the departure of Nathan Gerbe and a sophomore slump by Goalie John Muse.  However, the other Comm Ave school has brought in a very good freshman class headlined by first round pick Chris Kreider.

Vermont, despite losing its top three scoring threats in Viktor Stalberg, Peter Lenes and Dean Strong, returns a very good team, including all six of their regular defensemen from last season and sophomore goalie Rob Madore.

I'm expecting this game to be a very fast paced, defensive and exciting matchup.  The game is being aired on ESPNU at 5PM this sunday, I know I will be watching.  UVM WINS 3-1 (2-1 if they don't score on an empty net).

So that is it for the conference slate. Two other televised games this weekend feature the Black Bears from the University of Maine hosting a Friday Saturday matchup against Michigan State Spartans.  This game is aired on WABI-TV with both starting at 7PM.

Maine is looking to finally start the climb back into the Hockey East Elite.  They have struggled the last few years, but a sophomore class that was real good as freshman, paired with another freshman class that has no expectations to live up to can be quite dangerous.

The last key match up involving a Hockey East School puts Notre Dame in their third Hockey East contest this week.  This time they will pay a visit to Comm Ave and play the BU Terriers in a game that will likely have a pretty heavy national impact.

BU vs ND will be televised on ESPNU at 7PM, on Tuesday October 20th.

Other Games (Hockey East team in bold):

#1 Miami (OH) Redhawks @ University of New Hampshire Wildcats Friday and Saturday, both 7PM

Bentley University Falcons @ #20 Northeastern University Huskies Friday at 7PM

Holy Cross Crusaders @ Merrimack College Warriors 7PM Friday

Army @ Merrimack College Warriors 7PM Saturday