It’s a goaltender’s world in this Hockey East tournament

One round of the Hockey East tournament is in the books. And while three series needed three games to decide the outcome, only one provided an upset (that would be Providence becoming the first-ever No. 7 seed to advance). That said, plenty to learn from this first round of Hockey East tournament play.

1. Goaltenders are leading the way

You can look at all of the four teams that advanced — Boston College, Boston University, Maine and Providence — and there was one common thread: all four teams’ goaltenders were phenomenal. The leader of that pack might be BU’s Kieran Millan, who was outstanding in all three games but was on another planet with a 68-save performance in game 3, a 5-4 double overtime win for the Terriers. BC’s Parker Milner may have seemingly had the easiest route — a two-game sweep of Massachusetts — but had to make 58 saves in the two games. Providence’s Alex Beaudry posted a shutout in Sunday’s third and deciding game against Massachusetts-Lowell. And Maine’s Dan Sullivan, who allowed four goals in a loss on Saturday, gave up just a single goal in Maine’s two wins. Expect the TD Garden to see some great goaltending performances next weekend.

2. One team must now wait

This will be a very difficult week for Lowell, which seemed like an NCAA lock entering the quarterfinals but, with a three-game loss to Providence now must wait and see whether its body of work through the season is good enough to land in the NCAA field for the first time since 1996. The River Hawks will need to root against teams next weekend. Providence, Michigan Tech, Bowling Green, Cornell, Harvard and Colgate can all strip NCAA bids away from bubble teams if any of those teams win their conference tournament. Thus, the only teams safe in the PairWise are those who finish 11th or higher. Lowell is currently ninth (N.B. Denver and Wisconsin are still playing as I write this and could further impact the PWR). Needless to say, Norm Bazin and his staff will have a difficult wait this week.

3. It’s hard to say goodbye

Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Merrimack all had their seasons end this weekend. For the Minutement and the Wildcats, extending the season past the Hockey East tournament would have required winning the Hockey East tournament. Both of those teams put forth incredible efforts. Merrimack, which at one point was the top-ranked team in the nation, spent the entire season nationally ranked for the first time in program history. Obviously, losing in the quarterfinals was extremely difficult for the Warriors but this team has put forward two straight solid seasons and could leverage that to be a hockey power for years to come.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Sullivan only allowed 4 goals on Saturday…one was a empty net goal….just for note.  It should be a exciting semis at the Garden though!

      • Wanna give a big shout-out to all those Merrimack fans who came up on the bus to help support UMaine with revenues created from ticket sales! That was so nice of you to take the long ride up and pay money to watch Maine win here in Orono! I hope your bus ride home was safe and full of joy!

      • And take the crappy officials with you. I guess embellishment is another word for, “I don’t want to give Merrimack the penalties they deserve because they will be in the box all night, so I will call matching minors, even if the other player was just standing there, to keep this game exciting”. Mission accomplished. Shea better not be anywhere near the Garden this weekend.

  2. Lowell is in.  There’s no way they don’t make it.  I’m not sure there’s even a perfect circumstance that would make them drop three spots in idol and having all non at larges win that would keep them out.

    • If Maine beats BU, and Providence beats BC….and then Providence beats Maine for the at-large bid along with, about, four other conference scenarios then Lowell may indeed find itself in deeper water than it all ready left itself in after choking against the Friars. Check out this article, http://www.uscho.com/bracketology/2012/03/12/what-i-believe/

      Jason Moy also posted this in the comments.

      Here is how UML is out. – JaysonAtlantic HockeySemifinal #2: RIT defeats NiagaraSemifinal #1: Mercyhurst defeats Air ForceChampionship game: RIT defeats MercyhurstCCHASemifinal #2: Western Michigan defeats MiamiSemifinal #1: Michigan defeats Bowling GreenChampionship game: Western Michigan defeats
      MichiganConsolation game: Miami defeats Bowling GreenECACSemifinal #2: Cornell defeats HarvardSemifinal #1: Colgate defeats UnionChampionship game: Colgate defeats CornellConsolation game: Union defeats HarvardHockey
      EastSemifinal #2: Maine defeats Boston UniversitySemifinal #1: Providence defeats Boston CollegeChampionship game: Providence defeats MaineWCHAPlay-in #2: Denver defeats Michigan TechPlay-in #1: North Dakota defeats St. Cloud StateSemifinal #2: Denver defeats Minnesota-DuluthSemifinal #1: North Dakota defeats MinnesotaChampionship game: Denver defeats North Dakota

  3. Lowell is in and Merrimack has an outside chance to get in

    And the Bronx Blowhard should stay in his mom’s basement where he belongs

  4. Is Ned Bunyon still around.  Now that would be exciting to bring him back with his boy Jeff.  It could be the first ever 15 hour game full of embellishments, phantom calls and fun for all.

  5. Unfortunately Paula you are way off when it comes to Penn State needing to win the B10 tournament to get a bid to the NCAAs. In fact, they don’t even need to win both games from Michigan this weekend. A split in Ann Arbor puts them right back into the thick of things in the Pairwise rankings. By my calculations, they just need to take two out of three games with Michigan (I’m assuming they will meet in the BTT) and that should be enough for an at-large bid.

      • She’s certainly right AFTER Penn State was swept, but she wasn’t BEFORE they were; which is when she wrote the article and when I made the observation.

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