In the 2nd weekend of the B1G-Hockey East challenge, the Spartan hockey team welcomes two top-20 teams into Munn Arena. On Friday night, the Spartans will face off against 2013 Frozen Four Participant UMass-Lowell and will play Boston University on Saturday night. Both teams coming into Munn this weekend have recorded a victory over UMass-Amherst who swept the Spartans in Amherst last weekend.
The Spartans opened the season much like last season with a struggle to score goals, recording only three goals on the weekend. To avoid an 0-4 start, the Spartans must have success on special teams and need to find a way to get some type of offense going. Also, playing disciplined will be key as this is a team coming off of giving up 5 power play goals in 13 opportunities. A win this weekend will look good at the end of the season as both teams are expected to contend in Hockey East and will help build confidence for a team needing a boost. So let's meet the River Hawks and Terriers.
UMass-Lowell River Hawks
Website: UMass River Hawks Hockey
Time/TV: 7:00 PM Friday night on Fox Sports Detroit
Record: 1-3 with only win over common opponent UMass-Amherst 5-2. Ranked 18th by USCHO.com.
Coach: Norm Bazin is in his 3rd season at Lowell and has a 91-58-10 career record
Players to Watch: Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck from Commerce, MI was the the Hockey East Tournament MVP and Northeast Regional MVP last year as a freshman. Senior Joe Pendenza and Junior Scott Wilson tied for the team lead last year with 38 pts.
In the preseason, this game looked like a chance for Spartan fans to see the number one ranked team come into East Lansing. The River Hawks have stumbled out of the gate, like they did last year, and have scored only 3 goals in their 3 losses. The Spartans have a great chance to knock off what could still be a national title contender if they can continue to frustrate the River Hawks scorers. Look for Jake Hildebrand to get the start in goal and be the player of the game if the Spartans get the win.
UMass Lowell Hockey 2012-2013 Celebrations of Champions Video (via UMass Lowell Athletics)
Boston University Terriers
Website: BU Hockey Blog
Time: 7:05 PM Saturday night
Record: 3-1 with a win over common opponent UMass-Amherst 3-1. Ranked 13th by USCHO.com.
Coach: David Quinn is 3-1 in his first season at Boston, taking over for retired legend Jack Parker who in 39 years at BU amassed 897 wins.
Players to Watch: Both sophomore goalies Sean Maguire and Matt O'Connor had strong freshman campaigns and boast above a .920 save percentage this season. Freshman Robbie Baillargeon was drafted in the 5th round by the Ottawa Senators in 2012 and has 3 points in his first 4 collegiate games. Senior defensemen Garrett Noonan has 2 goals and 6 points through the first 4 games. Noonan is a defensemen who can contribute offensively, including 16 goals in 2011-12.
If Boston holds the same goalie rotation that they have had through the first two weeks of the season, the Spartans can expect to see Matt O'Connor in the net Saturday. O'Connor is 2-0 with a 2.50 GAA and made 39 saves when the Terriers defeated Amherst. Luckily for the Spartans, they will get Boston after they play at Yost Arena against Michigan on Friday. If the Terriers focus all their efforts on upsetting the 4th-ranked Wolverines, they may start a little flat Saturday against a struggling MSU squad. The Spartans must avoid penalties, as the Terriers have a 23.8% power play percentage. Once again until the Spartans put any type of offensive consistency together look for Jake Hildebrand or Will Yanakeff in net to be the player of the game if the Spartans get a victory.
2012-2013 Boston University Hockey Highlights (via Jp Buckley)