These non-conference matchups are critical for both schools, as UND and BU hope to be in the mix for the NCAA tournament at the end of the year. Over the past eight-plus seasons, North Dakota has taken advantage of its non-league games, going 41-13-11 (.715) over that stretch.

UND opened its non-conference season at home, taking three points from visiting Vermont. After this weekend’s games at Boston University, North Dakota will host St. Lawrence (6-4-2, 2-2-2- ECAC) and Northern Michigan (4-5-1, 2-2-0 WCHA) and play a home-and-home series with Bemidji State (4-6-2, 4-3-1 WCHA).

For the first time in over 40 years, the legendary Jack Parker will not be behind the bench as the head coach of the BU Terriers. Parker coached over 1400 games and led the Terriers to three NCAA titles (1978, 1995, 2009). Jack Parker led BU to 34 winning seasons in his career. During one nine season stretch (1989-1998), Boston University made nine consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, advanced to the Frozen Four seven times, and played in four title games, claiming the trophy in 1995.

On the injury front, North Dakota will be playing without several key forwards against Boston University. Mark MacMillan, Colten St. Clair, and Brendan O’Donnell will all miss this weekend’s action, while Derek Rodwell’s availability is questionable. The four have combined for 7 goals and 3 assists in 25 games this season. To make up for the shortage up front, head coach Dave Hakstol will move defensemen Gage Ausmus and Andrew Panzerella to forward for the games at Agganis Arena.

Boston University Team Profile

Head Coach: David Quinn (1st season at BU, 5-6-0, .455)
National Ranking: NR
This Season: 5-6-0, 2-3-0 Hockey East (t-6th)
Last Season: 21-16-2, 15-10-2 Hockey East (t-3rd)

Team Offense: 2.36 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.00 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.9% (9 of 43)
Penalty Kill: 81.6% (40 of 49)

Key Players: Junior F Cason Hohmann (2-6-8), Freshman F Robbie Baillargeon (3-6-9), Sophomore F Danny O’Regan (4-3-7), Senior D Garrett Noonan (2-6-8), Sophomore D Ahti Oksanen (2-7-9), Sophomore G Sean Maguire (1-4-0, 2.49 GAA, .929 SV%)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (10th season at UND, 239-124-38, .643)
National Ranking: #15
This Season: 4-5-1, 3-5-0 NCHC (t-2nd)
Last Season: 22-13-7 overall (NCAA West Regional finalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (3rd)

Team Offense: 2.80 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.30 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.9% (9 of 43)
Penalty Kill: 87.8% (43 of 49)

Key Players: Sophomore F Rocco Grimaldi (3-7-10), Sophomore F Drake Caggiula (4-4-8), Sophomore F Michael Parks (3-4-7), Senior D Dillon Simpson (1-5-6), Junior D Nick Mattson (1-4-5), Senior G Clarke Saunders (2-0-0, 3.62 GAA, .907 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last meeting: November 3, 2012 (Grand Forks, ND). Boston University scored three third period goals, including two goals just 11 seconds apart in the final two minutes, to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 road victory. BU defenseman Alexx Privitera assisted on the game-winning goal but is perhaps better remembered for hitting a UND student with his stick near the penalty box in Friday’s opener, which North Dakota won, 4-2.

Last meeting in Boston: October 10, 2008. The Terriers blitzed North Dakota 5-1 in the opening game of the 2008 Ice Breaker Tournament. Early in the second period, UND knotted the game at 1-1. Within 38 seconds, Boston University had scored two goals and was off to the races. Brad Miller scored the lone goal for the Fighting Sioux.

Most important meeting: March 29, 1997. UND scores five goals in the second period and goes on to defeat Boston University 6-4 for the 1997 NCAA championship. David Hoogsteen scores two goals for the Fighting Sioux, including a back-breaker with six seconds remaining in the middle frame.

All-time record: North Dakota leads the all-time series, 12-8-1 (.595), helped by a stellar 6-1-1 (.813) record in games played in Grand Forks. When the newly-formed Hockey East began play in 1984-1985, it created a five-year interlocking schedule with the WCHA. During that time, Boston University and North Dakota met 7 times, with John “Gino” Gasparini’s Fighting Sioux squad going 6-1-0 against Jack Parker’s Terriers.

Last Ten: Boston University has had the better of the play of late, going 5-4-1 against UND in the last ten matchups. The Terriers have outscored UND 39-36 during that span.

Game News and Notes

UND forward Conner Gaarder scored a hat trick in the opening game of last season’s series in Grand Forks, and has one goal in 40 games since then. North Dakota is unbeaten (5-0-1) when Gaarder lights the lamp. Both teams are allowing an average of three or more goals per game (BU 3.00, UND 3.30). North Dakota senior captain Dillon Simpson picked up a goal and three assists last weekend in a home split with Minnesota-Duluth and was named NCHC Defenseman of the Week. The Terriers play on a hybrid sheet of ice at Agannis Arena; the playing surface is 90 feet wide; five feet wider than NHL rinks but not as wide as the Olympic ice sheets (100 feet wide). Friday’s game will be shown on NBC Sports Network, while Saturday’s action can be found on Midco Sports Network.

The Prediction

Both teams are struggling to find themselves and put together a consistent weekend of hockey. I don’t see either team running away with this series, so I’ll give the Terriers Friday’s opener, with North Dakota roaring back in the rematch on Saturday. BU 3-2, UND 4-3.