Nation's best kick off new season in Beantown

October, 10, 2008
10/10/08
10:07
AM ET
BOSTON -- The Bruins like to refer to New England's largest city as The Hub of Hockey. That's a stretch when it comes to the current-day NHL, but it's more than accurate for the current day of college hockey.

Think about it.

The puck drops on the 2008-09 season Friday afternoon, and the last three national champions will be playing within about a 2½-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue.

Defending champion Boston College will raise the banner at 6:30 p.m. ET at Conte Forum before facing 2006 champion Wisconsin. A couple of hours earlier, 2007 champion Michigan State will face UMass (4:30 p.m. ET) in the opener of the Ice Breaker Invitational at Agganis Arena.

The second Ice Breaker game has host BU facing North Dakota (7:30 p.m. ET).

If you want to be ambitious and don't have a particular allegiance to any one team, you could see five of the nation's top 15-ranked clubs in No. 1 BC, No. 5 North Dakota, No. 9 BU, No. 11 Michigan State and No. 14 Wisconsin without leaving town this weekend.

Massachusetts may be the epicenter of college hockey on opening weekend, but it's not the only place to find the college game Friday and Saturday.

The best game of the weekend might be at Magness Arena in Denver, where the No. 6 Pioneers face No. 4 Notre Dame in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game on Saturday night.

Other USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine-ranked teams in action this weekend include:

• No. 2 Michigan vs. St. Lawrence (Fri. and Sat.)

• No. 3 Colorado College vs. Alabama-Huntsville (Fri. and Sat.)

• No. 7 UNH vs. Wisconsin (Sat.)

• No. 9 Miami has a home-and-home with Ohio State (Fri. and Sat.)

A few other interesting matchups include the Superior Cup with Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan hosting Minnesota-Duluth and Michigan Tech, respectively, on Friday, with UMD and Tech then heading to NMU and LSSU on Saturday.

And if you're looking for a game outside of the U.S., then head up to Quebec City on Saturday for the Vermont vs. RPI game as part of Challenge Hockey Quebec 2008.

In total, there are 36 games on this opening weekend. So, as legendary BU public-address announcer Jim Prior would say, "The teams are ready, so let's play hockey."

Game on.

David Albright covers college sports for ESPN.com and can be reached at espncaa@gmail.com.

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