BOSTON – The 28th season of Hockey East play began this past weekend with two Canadian institutions paying a trip to New England for exhibition games on Saturday and Sunday, leading into the start of the regular season on Friday night across the league.
The defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champion University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds did not fare well in their pair of games, losing to New Hampshire and Maine by a combined 10-3 score.
Jeff Silengo and Justin Agosta recorded a goal and assist apiece as the Wildcats skated to a 3-0 victory over the V-Reds at the Whittemore Center on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to Silengo and Agosta’s two-point outings, Dalton Speelman also had a multiple-point game with a pair of assists.
Matt Di Girolamo stopped all 22 shots he faced, including 12 in the second period, to record the shutout and UNB goaltender Travis Fullerton was credited with 32 saves, including 13 in the opening stanza.
The end result was not much better at the Alfond Arena on Sunday afternoon as the Maine Black Bears, led by three points each from seniors Brian Flynn and Spencer Abbott, earned a 7-3 win.
Junior Joey Diamond also had a strong showing in the opening game of the season, scoring a pair of goals.
Maine goalie Dan Sullivan picked up the win as he made 12 saves in 29:51. His sophomore classmate Martin Ouellette came in for some work in the latter part of the game, stopping 16 shots in 30:09.
Meanwhile in Boston, the St. Francis Xavier X-Men scored a pair of victories over Beantown foes Boston University and Northeastern to extend a four-game exhibition winning streak.
StFX jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two periods on Saturday at Agganis Arena, but a furious third-period rally fell came up short for the Terriers in a 6-4 loss. Wade Megan helped BU in the third stanza, scoring two goals but a late empty-netter with less than two seconds remaining put the X-Men ahead for the victory.
On Sunday, the X-Men scored six third-period goals in an 8-5 loss against the Huskies at Matthews Arena.
StFX right winger Bryce Swan proved dangerous as he scored a hat trick and added an assist, all in the third period to cruise to the victory.
Sophomore defenseman Anthony Bitetto and junior forward Justin Daniels each had a goal and two assists for the Huskies, who open their regular season on Friday night with a home date against UMass before trekking north to Maine’s Alfond Arena on Sunday.
It is a light schedule for the conference as a whole this weekend with just six games on the docket, including Boston College representing Hockey East in the IceBreaker Tournament in Grand Forks, N.D.
The Eagles will open the event with a Friday match-up with Michigan State at 5:07 p.m. before facing either Air Force or host North Dakota in the final round the following night.
Before welcoming Northeastern on Sunday, Maine will open its season with an exciting contest against Merrimack on Friday in what will be a rematch of last year’s Hockey East quarterfinals during which the Warriors earned a two-game sweep.
In the lone conference match of Saturday night, Boston University hosts New Hampshire at 8 p.m. from Agganis Arena for what should be another exciting game between the losers of the Hockey East semifinals last year.
UMass-Lowell also plays an exhibition contest against New Brunswick on Saturday at the Tully Forum in Chelmsford, Mass.