BC vs. UNH hockey preview: Rivals battle for Hockey East's top spot

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The biggest series of the Hockey East season takes place this weekend, as third-ranked BC and fourth-ranked UNH face off in a home-and-home battle with the conference's top spot on the line.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The eyes of Hockey East will descend on Kelley Rink at Boston College on Friday night as the host and No. 3 Eagles welcome No. 4-ranked New Hampshire for the first of a two-game weekend series. The game will be televised by NESN with Tom Caron and Andy Brickley on the call.

After undergoing an outpatient eye surgery on Thursday, BC head coach Jerry York will be absent from the bench this weekend with co-associate head coaches Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown.

Friday's contest is a match between the top two teams in the conference and takes place in the building in which BC is unbeaten in its last 17 games. With the Eagles sweeping the season series last season, they now hold an all-time edge of 64-63-12, including 18-14-6 in Chestnut Hill.

Eagles sophomore Johnny Gaudreau returns to the line-up for the game after earning a gold medal with Team USA in the World Junior Championship. Part of BC's three-game struggle (1-1-1) against Alabama-Huntsville, Minnesota and Yale since the Christmas break was the absence of the Carneys Point, N.Y. native as his 67 career points - including 23 points on 11 goals this season - were taken out of the fold in favor of sophomore Destry Straight.

The 13-win Wildcats have actually exceeded BC's total for the campaign to date, but sit two points back in the Hockey East standings entering the weekend. Junior Kevin Goumas leads the squad handily with 26 points, including eight goals.

Fellow senior Austin Block leads the team with ten goals in just 18 games, after compiling the same amount in his first 97 games over three years.

The series shifts to Whittemore Center on Saturday night, where the host Wildcats dropped a pair of contests last season by a combined score of 8-3.

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