Hockey East Weekly: 12/12/11

BOSTON — The majority of the pre-finals schedule has completed for Hockey East teams, and just two games remain next Saturday evening before the conference breaks for nine whole days in celebration of Christmas.

Both of this week’s games are televised affairs against ECAC foes, highlighted by a ranked battle with No. 5-ranked Merrimack hosting No. 11-ranked Union at Lawler Arena.

Merrimack’s game begins at 4 p.m. and will be televised on WBIN regionally as well as Fox College Sports Atlantic via national simulcast. At 7 p.m. on WCAXtra, old storied rivals St. Lawrence and Vermont tangle from Gutterson Fieldhouse.

The No. 12-ranked Terriers earned Hockey East Team of the Week honors, and their senior goaltender Kieran Millan took home the conference’s Player of the Week award after stopping 58 shots in a pair of wins at New Hampshire and Maine.

On Saturday, BU scored four third-period goals on the Black Bears to break a tie and secure a 5-1 victory at Alfond Arena. Senior Corey Trivino and sophomore Sahir Gill each scored two goals, while second-year Mainer Mark Anthoine scored the lone goal for the hosts.

Maine sophomore Dan Sullivan made 27 saves in the game as he fell to 5-4-2, breaking his team’s five-game unbeaten streak.

On Thursday night, the Terriers also staged a comeback for a 2-1 win at Whittemore Center. Granite State native Greg Burke scored UNH’s lone goal before junior Wade Megan and senior Corey Trivino lit the BU lamp.

The game marked the first-collegiate start for Wildcat freshman Casey DeSmith, a Rochester, N.H. native and USHL product, making a solid 32 saves in defeat.

UNH will return to home ice on Dec. 30 when it takes on regional foe Brown in its last of three straight contests in Durham.

Heading into the break, BU has won two-straight and seven of eight. The Terriers return to action on Dec. 31 at Notre Dame’s new Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Black Bears join the Massachusetts Minutemen for some fun in the sun over the final week of the year, taking part in the Florida College Classic on Dec. 29-30. Cornell and Clarkson will also be participating.

UMass emerged victorious in a 3-1 decision on Wednesday night against No. 19-ranked Yale in New Haven as conference Rookie of the Week Kevin Boyle stopped 26 in the win and sophomore Branden Gracel scored the game-winner.

With a win and a tie this week, Merrimack held still at No. 5 in the polls as the Warriors ready for Saturday’s test in front of a national audience.

Merrimack dealt conference foe Vermont its 11th loss of the season, and third in a row, by a 5-2 score on Wednesday night at Lawler Arena.

Senior Jeff Velleca had a career-high two goals and three points, while rookie Justin Mansfield tallied his first-ever two-goal game to lead MC to victory. Senior Joe Cannata finished with 32 stops, while his UVM counterpart Rob Madore made 28 in the losing effort.

Cannata made 34 saves and sophomore Brendan Ellis tallied his second goal of the season as part of Saturday’s 1-1 stalemate with 12th-ranked Colgate at Starr Rink.

No. 17-ranked UMass-Lowell held onto a spot in the national rankings this week after beating Boston College, 3-2, on home ice Friday night. The River Hawks did take a tumble at Northeastern the following night by the same score.

David Vallorani scored a goal and added an assist in UML’s win, while sophomore Doug Carr stopped 23 shots in his eighth win in a row. Senior Barry Almeida and sophomore Bill Arnold scored for BC.

Junior Chris Rawlings, the league’s Defensive Player of the Week, made 38 saves as the host Huskies — now winners of six in a row — halted UML’s winning streak at five on Saturday night.

Sophomore Anthony Bitetto tipped in his first game-winner in an NU uniform, while junior Steve Quailer extended his point streak to seven games with an empty-netter in the third period. With the win, NU reaches .500 for the first time this season after lifting itself to a 7-7-2 mark.

For Lowell, sophomore Derek Arnold and freshman Scott Wilson scored goals in the Saturday loss. The River Hawks face RPI at the UConn Toyota Holiday Classic on Dec. 29.

The Huskies look to extend their winning streak on Dec. 30 when they take on Princeton at the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis.

Providence opens 2012 with an annual Mayor’s Cup clash against cross-town rival Brown at Schneider Arena on Jan. 1, 2012. Boston College returns to the ice on Dec. 29, taking on Michigan at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit.

The Friars’ lone game of the week was last Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss at BC. Almeida and fellow senior Paul Carey scored two points for BC, while sophomore Derek Army scored the lone tally for PC.

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