With Connecticut joining the fray, Hockey East revamps its playoff format

Hockey East approved an expansion of its playoff format during its recent league meetings in Naples, Fla.

With Connecticut joining the conference for the 2014-15 season, the conference directors voted to include all 12 teams in the postseason tournament as well as use a best-of-three format in both the opening round and quarterfinal rounds.

Those rounds, played at campus sites, precede the Hockey East championship weekend that will again be hosted by the TD Garden in Boston.

“The directors heard from the coaches that the best time of the year for the athletes is playoff time and the coaches made a strong argument for increasing those playing opportunities for the students,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna in a news release. “The inclusion of a fifth-place team in the opening round may also have
been a factor.”

This past season, as Hockey East welcomed Notre Dame as its 11th member, the conference put on an 11-school tournament, with teams No. 6 through No. 11 paired off in a single-game, opening-round format. The three winners joined the teams seeded No. 1 through No. 5 to make up an eight-team quarterfinal field.

In 2015, the Hockey East postseason will be best-of-three opening-round play on campus from March 6-8 (No. 5 hosts No. 12, No. 6 hosts No. 11, No. 7 hosts No. 10, No. 8 hosts No. 9), best-of-three quarterfinal-round play on campus March 13-15 (schools No. 1 – No. 4 host four opening-round winners, highest vs. lowest, etc.) and then the semifinals March 20 at TD Garden and the championship March 21 at TD Garden.