It is NCAA men’s hockey tournament time, with the field of 16 beginning Thursday and Friday at four regional sites for a chance to play in the Frozen Four April 7-9 in Boston.
Harvard kicks it off at noon Thursday with a tough matchup against the Minnesota State- Mankato Mavericks, who finished the season as the nation’s No. 2 seed behind the Michigan Wolverines. The Mavericks are big, heavy and well-coached by Mike Hastings, but Ted Donato’s squad has the talent to score an upset. After winning the ECAC last weekend, they are playing their best hockey at the right time, getting production from all positions.
With games in Worcester, Mass., starting Friday, Hockey East champion UMass (No. 3 seed) and Northeastern will face stiff competition from Minnesota and Western Michigan. Quinnipiac and American International College are both in Allentown, Pa., with the latter team drawing the tournament favorite Michigan. UMass Lowell rounds out the six-team New England field, playing Denver University in Loveland, Colo.
We have a look at players from each of the local six teams who are expected to be factors in the regional round, plus two more natives and a watch list of guys from outside the region.