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December 30. 2012 10:35PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: After RPI, it's all Hockey East

HANOVER -- TWO TO GO.

The University of New Hampshire hockey team plays today in the Ledyard National Bank Classic at Dartmouth College's Thompson Arena and then takes aim at its final nonconference game of the year.

The Wildcats play Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at home on Saturday night at the Whittemore Center and after that it's all Hockey East, all the time.

RPI started the season slowly, but has been coming on strong.

The Engineers fell to 1-5-2 with back-to-back 4-0 losses at Dartmouth and Harvard on Nov. 9 and 10. They have gone 4-2-2 since for an overall record of 5-7-4 and are coming off a split at St. Cloud State.

RPI beat the Huskies 4-3 on Thursday night and fell 2-1 on Friday.

UNH swept St. Cloud at the Whittemore Center, 5-3 and 4-2, in its season-opening series.

The Wildcats get right back into the thick of things in Hockey East after RPI.

UNH, ranked No. 2 in the country, takes on No. 1 Boston College for the first time this season in a home-and-home series on Jan. 11 and 12. The teams play Friday night in Boston and Saturday night in Durham.

BC holds down the top spot in Hockey East, too, with a 9-2-1 record. UNH is in second place, two points back at 8-2-1.

The Wildcats lost all three games they played against Boston College last year, 5-1, 4-3 and 3-2 in overtime.

UNH and BC meet for the third time in the regular season in Chestnut Hill on Sunday, Feb. 17.

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THE MEN'S and women's basketball teams wrapped up the nonconference portions of their schedules over the weekend with losses at Colgate.

Both teams open America East play against Vermont on Wednesday night.

The men, who dropped to 4-8 with a 65-63 loss at Colgate on Sunday afternoon, take on Vermont at home.

It's the first of a tough one-two start for the Wildcats. UNH plays at Stony Brook on Saturday.

"We're going to find out real quickly how we stack up, I guess," said UNH coach Bill Herrion.

Stony Brook won the league's regular season title last year, but lost at home in the America East tournament championship game to Vermont, 51-43.

Vermont is 7-4 and coming off a 62-50 loss to Charleston on Saturday.

Stony Brook is 8-4 and lost to Seton Hall, 60-59, on Friday night, The Seawolves play at Manhattan on Tuesday.

"The difference between those teams and us is they've played in big games and won big games and play with a swagger," Herrion said.

UNH split its games with Vermont last year. UNH won 72-64 in Durham and Vermont took the contest in Burlington, 77-60.

Junior forward Luke Apfeld, who played at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, leads Vermont with 11.2 points a game and averages 3.8 rebounds per contest.

Senior forward Ferg Myrick led UNH with 23 points against Colgate and averages 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. Junior center Chris Pelcher averages 11.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. Junior Patrick Konan at 11.5 and senior Chandler Rhoads at 10.8 are also in double figures in points for the Wildcats.

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THE UNH women fell to 5-7 with their 72-61 loss at Colgate on Saturday. They play at Vermont on Wednesday.

The Vermont women are 3-10 and lost their fifth straight game at Canisius, 56-55, on Saturday.

Sam Brenner, a 6-foot-3 Vermont freshman out of Nashua and the New Hampton School, averages one point and 1.7 rebounds in 4.6 minutes a game.

Senior guard Cari Reed leads UNH with 12.5 points and 7.1 rebounds a game and senior forward Morgan Frame averages 10.3 points and 6.6 rebounds.

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THE GYMNASTICS team opens its season at home against Rutgers on Sunday at 1.

It's the first of three home meets in January for the Wildcats.

UNH is at Central Michigan on Jan. 11 and then has North Carolina State at home on Jan. 18 and Temple and Brown are in on Jan. 26.

alessels@unionleader.com

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