New England fans certainly know that it has been a year of change in college hockey.
For starters, Boston University and Boston College pulled off Hockey East quarterfinal upsets but are nowhere to be found in the NCAA tournament field after their respective fifth- and seventh-place finishes. The same goes for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
With the “brand name” programs out, UMass clinched the top spot in Hockey East for the first time ever and Northeastern wound up winning its second playoff title in four years, while American International continued its historic season with the Atlantic Hockey championship. The Yellow Jackets and Arizona State will both be making their first-ever NCAA appearances this weekend, a feat that has not happened since 2007.
Third-year head coach Eric Lang’s club was projected to finished fifth in Atlantic Hockey by the coaches, but this past weekend’s 3-2 wins over Robert Morris and Niagara in Buffalo, N.Y., extended the record win total to 22 and allowed it to stand atop the league as first-time winners of both the regular-season and tournament titles.