NCAA Tournament: Five alive from New England
From left, Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau, Providence's Mark Jankowski, Quinnipiac's Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Hartford, Conn.), UMass-Lowell's Connor Hellebuyck and Vermont's Pete Massar (Williston, Vt.) are all looking to lead their teams to the Frozen Four. It starts this weekend at the four regional sites. (Massar photo courtesy UVM Athletics, all others Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)
Five New England teams, including four from Hockey East, will compete for a NCAA national championship in 2014. ESPN analysts John Buccigross and Dave Starman anchored the annual Selection Show on Sunday morning, and made the announcement of this year’s 16-team tournament field.
Regional play opens in Bridgeport, Conn. and Cincinnati on Friday, March 28, and the following day in Worcester, Mass. and St. Paul, Minn.
Despite losing in the Hockey East quarterfinals, Boston College is the second overall seed and will lead the Northeast region field in Worcester. The Eagles will take on Denver, the first-ever champions of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Worcester’s DCU Center. The Northeast region also includes repeat Hockey East champion UMass-Lowell as the second seed and WCHA winner Minnesota State as No. 3.
BC has been placed in regional brackets in Worcester six times previously and is 10-1 all-time at the Centrum/DCU Center. The last three national titles the Eagles have won (2008, 2010, and 2012) started with regional championships in Worcester. BC’s 33 appearances in the NCAA Tournament are the third most all-time behind Michigan (which is out of the tournament for the second consecutive year) and this year’s top overall seed, Minnesota.
Denver makes its second consecutive appearance in a New England-based regional after it was ousted by host New Hampshire in last year’s Northeast semifinal in Manchester, N.H.
The East Regional at Bridgeport features No. 3 overall seed Union, which will square off with Vermont in the first round on Friday at 2 p.m. The Dutchmen defeated Colgate on Saturday night to became the ECAC’s first three-peat champion since Boston University from 1975-77. UVM advanced to the Frozen Four in 2009, after winning the Bridgeport region over Yale and Air Force.
Providence and Quinnipiac round out the rest of the regional. Quinnipiac was upended in double overtime by Colgate in the ECAC semifinals on Friday in Lake Placid, N.Y. but still receives the second seed in Bridgeport, and a date with Providence. The Friars are making their 10th NCAA appearance, but their first since 2001. The Bobcats, last year’s top overall seed and the national runner-up to No. 16 seed Yale, finished this season with a solid 5-1-2 mark against Hockey East foes, including a 3-3 tie with the Friars at home on Nov. 27, 2013.
Hockey East’s fifth and final entrant is Notre Dame, which will play against St. Cloud State as the No. 2 seed in the West Regional in St. Paul, Minn. The Fighting Irish lost a 4-0 decision to the eventual league champions in Friday night’s semifinals at TD Garden, a night before the River Hawks beat UNH by the same score to win their second consecutive Hockey East championship. Should the Irish advance, they’ll play the winner of Robert Morris vs. Minnesota.
The Midwest Regional, which will be played in Cincinnati, is the only one not to feature any teams with no New England ties.
Here’s the full bracket:
NORTHEAST (Worcester, Mass.)
15 Denver (20-15-6) vs. 2 Boston College (26-7-4), 4 p.m. Saturday
10 Minnesota State (26-13-1) vs. 7 UMass Lowell (25-10-4), 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Regional Championship, 5 p.m. Sunday
EAST (Bridgeport, Conn.)
13 Vermont (20-14-3) vs. 3 Union (28-6-4), 2 p.m. Friday
11 Providence (21-10-6) vs. 6 Quinnipiac (24-9-6), 5:30 p.m. Friday
Regional Championship, 3 p.m. Saturday
WEST (St. Paul, Minn.)
16 Robert Morris (19-17-5) vs. 1 Minnesota (25-6-6), 5:30 p.m. Saturday
9 St. Cloud State (21-10-5) vs. 8 Notre Dame (23-14-2), 9 p.m. Saturday
Regional Championship, 7:30 p.m. Sunday
12 Colgate (20-13-5) vs. 5 Ferris State (28-10-3), 4:30 p.m. Friday
14 North Dakota (23-13-3) vs. 4 Wisconsin (24-10-2), 8 p.m. Friday
Regional Championship, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
FROZEN FOUR (Philadelphia, Pa.)
WEST champion vs. MIDWEST champion, April 10
EAST champion vs. NORTHEAST champion, April 10
WEST/MIDWEST winner vs. EAST/NORTHEAST winner, April 12