UNH Hockey Preparing For Opener vs. No. 2 Boston College
The University of New Hampshire men's hockey team is preparing for its opening series Friday and Saturday against second-ranked Boston College.
The Wildcats will open the season in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on Friday before returning home to host the Eagles at Whittemore Center on Saturday. No fans will be present at either game, although both will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on NESN.
Boston College is ranked No. 2 in the country and boasts top players such as forwards Alex Newhook, Matthew Boldy and goaltender Spencer Knight, all of whom were drafted in the first rounds of the last few NHL drafts.
"Anytime you get to play BC," UNH forward Charlie Kelleher said in a Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday. "It's obviously a huge game. We're happy we are playing them first. We want to play the best and see where we're at."
Kelleher was named captain of this year's team after posting 13 goals and 50 assists for 63 career points. Last season as a junior, Kelleher tallied a career-best 23 points with six goals and 17 assists.
Hockey East will mostly employ an intra-conference schedule this year, with teams playing a double round-robin schedule of 20 league games. There will also be some "flex" weekends in there to both include potential non-conference games as well as accommodate for any scheduling issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not all college hockey teams will be participating in the truncated 2020-21 season. As of Tuesday, 10 teams had cancelled their respective seasons, including all six Ivy League schools that belong to the ECAC. Even Vermont, which plays in Hockey East, will be shut down until December 18.
UNH Head Coach Mike Souza said that, given the vast levels of uncertainty in the athletics world and beyond, he feels a sense of pride having his team suit up for games this weekend.
"We always feel that we can be such great ambassadors for the state of New Hampshire," Souza said. "We take a lot of pride in not only being the state university but in our program doing our best to represent the state. We hope a lot of people tune in and take a lot of pride in the work these guys have put in.
"All the mental toughness these athletes have had to endure is tremendous. The uncertainty really weighs on everybody. We're very excited to go out and see where we're at against arguably the best team in the country on Friday."