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Let the (Hockey East) games begin

The Wildcats, who now sit at 1-3 overall on the season, need to turn it around, and quickly. With that in mind, there is no better time for the Hockey East campaign to begin than this weekend. UNH travels back to the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts to take on the UMass Minutemen, then return home on Saturday night to take on Merrimack College.
Since the conference was founded in 1984, Hockey East has been the Wildcats’ realm. Head coach Dick Umile’s 348 wins in conference are the most among active coaches in Hockey East, only trailing Boston University coaching legend Jack Parker for most of all time.
The conference slate this weekend has highly favorable matchups for the Wildcats, given the circumstances of the season thus far. The Minutemen finished 2-16-4 in conference matchups in 2015; last in the standings. Merrimack was 5-10-7 in conference last season, slightly ahead of UNH, which resulted in the two teams meeting in the opening round of the Hockey East playoffs. The Wildcats lost in three games, the first time they have failed to make it past the opening round in team history.
Despite the ending of last year’s playoff run to Merrimack, the Wildcats have owned the Warriors in the all time series. UNH is 71-22-10 against Merrimack all time dating back to 1960, the first time these two teams did battle. In the regular season last year, the Wildcats never lost to the Warriors, going 1-0-1, and have played the Warriors to within a goal in two of the three games in the playoff series.
There’s a different level of intensity, speed and skill that comes with Hockey East matchups, as these three teams are very familiar with eachother. The Wildcats will have to be prepared for anything to happen. Just last season, UNH watched a five-goal lead slip through their fingers against the Minutemen, which resulted in a 6-6 tie.
Overall, it’s an exciting time for college hockey. For the Wildcats, two teams in UMass and Merrimack that have been struggling in the early goings much like themselves is a great opportunity to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Colorado College last weekend. Expect a fast, high-scoring weekend as UNH looks to prove that the No. 10 ranking in the Hockey East preseason poll was an overtstatement.
UNH vs. UMass Amherst  
Friday at 7 p.m. Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.
UNH is 1-3; UMass is 2-2
UNH vs. Merrimack College
Saturday at 7 p.m. Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H. UNH is 1-3; Merrimack is 2-3-1

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