By Mark Fraenkel
With the calendar now in the middle of January, here are the top storylines across Hockey East.
Providence And Merrimack split
The league’s top team, the Merrimack College Warriors (15-7-1, 10-3-0 Hockey East), split their two games with the fourth-place Providence College Friars (12-6-6, 7-3-5 HE) with huge implications in the PairWise this weekend.
Two goals from sophomore defenseman Taige Harding and goals from seniors Patrick Moynihan and Parker Ford, juniors Brett Berard and Uula Ruikka and sophomore Cody Monds carried the Friars to an 8-3 win over the Warriors in North Andover on Friday night.
The next night, Freshman defenseman Trevor Griebel would find the back of the net late in the first period to give Merrimack a 1-0 lead. Then, senior forward Mac Welsher and junior forward Alex Jefferies netted goals in the third period en route to a 3-0 victory.
PC looks to bounce back from Saturday’s loss with a midweek game on the road against the Princeton Tigers (9-9-0, 6-7-0 ECAC) before traveling to Orono to face the University of Maine Black Bears (9-10-2, 3-6-1 HE) twice.
Merrimack has home-and-home with the Northeastern Huskies (10-9-3, 8-4-2 HE) next weekend.
Northeastern beats UConn in Toscano Family Ice Forum grand opening
In a rematch of last week’s game at Fenway Park, Northeastern once again defeated the University of Connecticut Huskies (13-7-3, 8-6-2 HE), this time in Storrs in the inaugural game at the Toscano Family Ice Forum.
UConn broke out to a 2-0 lead in the game off of goals from sophomore forward Chase Bradley and senior defenseman Roman Kinal. Northeastern would then respond with four unanswered goals when graduate student forward Jakov Novak found the back of the net just over two minutes after Kinal’s goal in the second period.
In the third period, senior forward Aidan McDonough scored twice before sophomore forward Jack Hughes made it a 4-2 game with less than 90 seconds to play. UConn’s freshman forward Samu Salminen would score in the final minute, but Northeastern would hold on to win 4-3.
Jerry Keefe’s Northeastern team now sits in second place, two points below Merrimack.
UConn will look to bounce back with a home-and-home against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (9-10-3, 3-8-1 HE).
BC picking up momentum with win over Sacred Heart
The Boston College Eagles (9-6-4, 5-3-3 HE) traveled to Fairfield, Connecticut and defeated the Sacred Heart Pioneers (11-9-1, 19-4-1 Atlantic Hockey) in overtime on Saturday night. The game was the first game at the state-of-the-art Martire Family Arena on SHU’s campus.
Sacred Heart opened up the scoring early in the second period with a goal from sophomore defenseman Conner Hutchinson, but BC would respond with a shorthanded, unassisted goal from freshman forward Andre Gasseau later in the period. Less than one minute into the third, junior forward Trevor Kuntar scored to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Later in the third period, senior forward Kevin Lombardi tied the game at two for the Pioneers. Senior defenseman Marshall Warren was the hero for Greg Brown’s team scoring the game-winner less than one minute into the overtime period.
BC will look to continue its hot streak when they face the University of Vermont Catamounts (7-13-2, 2-10-0 HE) in a home-and-home series next weekend.