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College Hockey:
Hockey East teams more than ready to accept a “Challenge”

The inaugural Hockey East/Big Ten challenge, a 13-game series between Hockey East and Big Ten teams, kicked off this past weekend with Hockey East teams dominating. That leads the three things that I learned this week in Hockey East:

1) Hockey East was up to the “Challenge”

The Hockey East/Big Ten Challenge wasn’t very challenging this weekend as the series kicked off with the veteran Hockey East league posting a dominating 4-1-1 record against its rookie brethren. No. 7 Boston College and No. 15 Boston University both handily defeated No. 2 Wisconsin. Massachusetts, coming off a two-loss weekend to begin the season, swept Michigan State at home. The lone blemishes of the weekend came at the hands of Michigan, which earned a tie and overtime win at New Hampshire. Michigan, in fact, is now 2-0-1 against Hockey East teams after a season-opening win against BC and will host BU and Massachusetts-Lowell next weekend looking to continue the success vs. Hockey East. Both of those games will be part of the “Challenge” as will BU and Lowell’s single games versus Michigan State, BC’s Friday game at Minnesota and Penn State’s game against Vermont which is being played in Philadelphia next Saturday.

2) The top not-so-nice for Lowell

Massachusetts-Lowell began the season a preseason No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll, the first time in program history the school earned the nation’s top ranking. The River Hawks quickly learned that it’s lonely at the top beginning the season 1-3-0. Lowell’s lone win came against Massachusetts, but a season-opening loss to Sacred Heart and a sweep this past weekend in a home-and-home with Quinnipiac gave the River Hawks four consecutive losses to Connecticut teams (Lowell fell to Yale in last year’s Frozen Four). No need to push the panic button for the River Hawks just yet. Lowell began last season 2-5-1 before rallying for the school’s first-ever Frozen Four appearance.

3) An offensive explosion on Huntington Ave.

Don’t look now fans, but the team tied for the most goals thus far in the nation is none other than Northeastern. The Huskies have potted 20 goals in their first four games. Not bad for a team that last season scored just 81 goals total. You can say anything you would like about NU’s first two opponents – Alabama-Huntsville and Holy Cross – but goals are goals and a team’s offensive ability generally dictates whether or not they can score. I’ll have more on Northeastern in Tuesday’s notes column, but one thing if for sure, this NU team can score.

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