With all of the hype about the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, another important collegiate tourney is about to get underway. The NCAA Division 1 hockey tournament kicks off this weekend, with 16 teams playing for a chance to get to the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Hockey East, one of the best conferences in all of college hockey, will have strong representation in the tournament, fielding five of the 16 qualifying teams. Here’s a look at each Hockey East squad who have their eyes squarely focused on the road to Philly.
Despite finishing out of the top four in the Hockey East Tournament, the Eagles are still feeling good about themselves heading into NCAA’s meet. Led by 2014 Walter Brown Award winner Johnny Gaudreau, BC started the first two months of the season 9-4-2, then went on a tear from Dec. 6 through Feb. 22 where they did not lose a single game, finishing first in the Hockey East with a record of 26-7-4 overall and a 16-2-2 in the conference.
Facing off with No. 8-seeded Notre Dame in the Hockey East quarterfinals, BC tripped up in Game 1, losing to the Fighting Irish 7-2, but came back tie the series with a 4-2 win in Game 2. Needing a win at home to move on to the TD Garden, BC fell short, losing to Notre Dame 4-2, making 2014 the first year since 2004 that BC didn’t make at least the semifinals.
Nevertheless, BC’s impressive regular season yielded them the No. 1 seed in the Northeast region of the NCAA tournament, and the No. 2 seed overall behind only Minnesota. The Eagles take on the region’s No. 4 seed Denver in the NCAA opening round on Saturday afternoon. Next
The River Hawks finished the 2013-14 regular season 25-10-4 overall, while going 11-6-3 in Hockey East, finishing second in the conference to Boston College. UMass Lowell heads into the NCAA tournament ranked No. 6 in the country, trailing only conference foe BC (No. 2) in the national rankings.
Seeded No. 2 in the Hockey East Tournament, UMass Lowell faced No. 7 Vermont in the quarterfinals, winning the series in three games, and earned a trip to the TD Garden to try and defend their 2013 Hockey East crown. In the semifinals, the River Hawks took down No. 8 seed Notre Dame 4-0 to set up a final with fourth-seeded UNH. In the finals, UMass Lowell breezed through UNH 4-0 to capture their second straight Hockey East Tournament title.
UMass Lowell was seeded No. 2 in the Northeast Region of the NCAA tournament. They will face No. 3 Minnesota-St. Mankato in the first round on Saturday, with the victor playing either BC or Denver for the chance to go to the Frozen Four. Next
Despite their final conference record, the Fighting Irish had a strong season in their first year as a member of Hockey East. Notre Dame had the third best overall record in Hockey East, but finished tied for seventh in the Hockey East standings due to their 9-9-2 conference record. The Irish did have a big 2-1 win over national No. 2 Boston College in their regular season finale, giving them momentum heading into the Hockey East Tournament.
In the conference tournament, Notre Dame had to win a play-in game against Boston University to get into the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, they faced a BC team that was projected to breeze through the tournament and easily take the conference title. Notre Dame shocked the Eagles with a 7-2 blowout win in Game 1, forcing BC to come back and win Game 2 to force a winner-take-all Game 3 in Chestnut Hill. In the shocker of the Hockey East Tournament, Notre Dame defeated BC 4-2 to advance to knock the No. 1 seed Eagles out of the tournament.
Notre Dame fell in the conference semifinals to eventual champion UMass Lowell, but when it was all said and done, the Irish successfully extended their season, as Notre Dame, now the No. 8 ranked team in the NCAA, earned their ticket to the NCAA tournament. Seeded No. 2 in the West Region, Notre Dame takes on No. 3 St. Cloud on Saturday in St. Paul, Minn., with the region’s other matchup pitting Minnesota against Robert Morris. Next
The Providence Friars hope to do what their men’s basketball team could not: advance in the NCAA tournament. Providence had a strong year, finishing third in Hockey East with a conference record of 11-7-2, one point behind UMass Lowell, while they went 21-10-6 overall. The Friars are the fourth Hockey East representative to be ranked in the NCAA’s top 10, sitting at No. 9 in the nation.
Providence came into the Hockey East Tournament as the No. 3 seed and was matched up against No. 6 seed Maine, whom the Friars handled easily in two games, 3-1 and 4-2. Providence was the only Hockey Easy semifinalist to advance to the TD Garden in just two games; the other three series went the full three games. The Friars’ quest for their first Hockey East tournament title since 1996 was dashed by No. 4 seed UNH, who sent Providence home after defeating the Friars 3-1.
Their regular season would not be soon forgotten, however, as the Friars were named to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001. Selected as the No. 3 seed in the East region, Providence will play No. 2 seed – and 2013 national championship game finalist – Quinnipiac, with the winner moving on to play either Union or Vermont for the East Region title. Next
Vermont rounds out the five representatives from Hockey East to make the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Catamounts finished the season with a record of 20-14-3 overall, while finishing tied for seventh in the conference standings with a record of 10-10-0.
Vermont went into the Hockey East Tournament and needed to win an opening round game against UMass Amherst in order to advance to the quarterfinals; they beat the Minutemen 2-1. Set up with a quarterfinal series against defending Hockey East champions UMass Lowell, Vermont held their own against one of the best teams in the country, losing Game 1 by just one goal, then taking Game 2 in overtime to force a Game 3 against the River Hawks. UMass Lowell won another one goal game to take the series and bounce Vermont from the Hockey East tournament.
The Catamounts finished the year No. 13 in the national rankings, good enough to earn them a spot in the NCAA tournament. Selected as the No. 4 seed in the East Region, Vermont will try to extend their season against the region’s No. 1 seed – and No. 3 overall – Union on Friday in Bridgeport, Conn., with the winner moving on to face Quinnipiac or Providence for the East Region title. Back to the beginning
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