Hockey East Press Release
It should be an especially exciting year for the Hockey East tournament as almost every team will be playing for much more than the tournament title. The winner receives an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Unlike years past, there is only one or two Hockey East teams that should be in a relatively comfortable position regardless of their performance over the next two weeks. For the others, a Hockey East title and its automatic berth may be the only way in, so the usual stakes and emotional investments have been ratchetted up considerably.
Boston College swept Vermont in its three-game regular season series, but no one knows what will happen when these two re-unite in the quarterfinals. The Eagles were the league’s powerhouse in midseason, but have struggled with a 1-5-1 record in their last seven regular season games. It’s a similar story for Vermont, who rode a hot start to a high national ranking only to go 1-4-4 down the stretch. BC has the decided head-to-head edge this season, limiting the Catamounts to just one goal in three meetings (2-1, 2-0, 3-0).
The advantage for Maine over UMass Lowell is even more pronounced. The Black Bears have nine straight wins against the River Hawks, outscoring them 47-14 in that span, They own a 28-2-2 record in the last 32 meetings, and a perfect 10-0 record vs. UML in the Hockey East tournament all-time. Maine made quick work in last year’s quarterfinal series, dominating the River Hawks in back-to-back wins, 7-2 and 5-1. And although UMass Lowell enters the playoffs on a strong 4-1-1 streak, Maine enters as one of the hottest teams in the conference, at 10-1-2 to end its regular season schedule.
With a 14-1-2 record since Jan. 7, top seed BU ranks right up there with Maine for fantastic finishes. This is the Terriers first appearance as the No. 1 seed since the 1999-2000 season, as they seek their first tourney title since 1997. But their first round opponent is possibly the scariest of all. The University of Massachusetts had only a moderate 10-15-2 record in Hockey East play, but that included wins over BC, BU and UNH, and a tie last week at Maine. Providence was the only team that swept the Minutemen this year.
After an incredibly strong start, the Friars levelled off as the season progressed, and ultimately yielded the coveted No. 4 seed to UNH, who will host a quarterfinal series for a record 10th straight season. The Wildcats and Friars skated to an even 1-1-1 record this season, and UNH holds only a slight 6-4 lead vs. Providence in the Hockey East tourney alltime. This series will be a reunion of the 2004 quarterfinals, in which #4 UNH outlasted #5 Providence, 2-1, 3-4, 1-0. PC hasn’t had much success as the fifth seed historically, with only a 1-7-1 record. And while UNH has a dominating 11-1 record as the No. 1 seed, the Wildcats are only 4-5 when slated at No. 4.
The NHL trading deadline today produced four moves involving former Hockey East players, the most significant being the trade of former Lowell stopper Dwayne Roloson from Minnesota to Edmonton. Roloson is expected to be the Oilers’ No. 1 goaltender.