Top four Hockey East teams headed to TD Garden for first time since 2013

For the first time since 2013 – and just the second time in the last decade – the top four seeds in the Hockey East tournament advanced out of the quarterfinal round. Top-seeded UMass Lowell needed three games against New Hampshire and will face Notre Dame in Friday’s opening semifinal. Boston College and Boston University will renew their latest edition of their rivalry in the last game on Friday.

But before we look ahead, let’s look back at three takeaways from this weekend’s quarterfinal action.

1. Blowaways continue to be the story of the tournament

There have been very few nail biters in this Hockey East tournament and this weekend’s quarterfinals, for the most part, followed that script. Boston College erupted for 14 goals against what had been a hard-to-score-on Vermont team. Notre Dame posted back-to-back five spots on Providence (though the second included a couple of empty-netters). UMass Lowell scored eight on New Hampshire in a winner-take-all game three on Sunday, including the team’s first six-goal period since 1994, which spotted the River Hawks a 6-1 lead after 20 minutes of play.

This time of year we think about tight games and overtimes. Those may come next weekend, but to date, there has been just two one-goal games in the 18 games of the tournament.

2. About those one-goal games

If you were looking for drama, you found it at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Facing cross-town rival Northeastern, BU fell behind, 2-0, in the first period of each game. But both nights BU struck once in the second and then early in the third to even the score. Friday required a power play goal in overtime. Saturday it was another power play goal but this came in the final minute of regulation. If blowouts were the trend of the tournament, no one told the Terriers and Huskies who played a series with a razor-thin margin for error.

3. Providence must now wait it out

The Providence Friars lost their series at Notre Dame but that likely won’t end the season for the Friars. A strong non-conference record for Providence has the Friars in the top 12 of the PairWise Rankings. Because the Friars can’t lose another game before selection Sunday, their RPI won’t drop much, if at all. So they are nearly a lock for the NCAA tournament but will have to dodge the doomsday scenario that many will figure out as this week goes on the the PairWise Predictor is rolled out on USCHO.

For the record, Boston University, Lowell and Notre Dame have all punched their NCAA tickets. Boston College, which will have a slight chance at an at-large bid if they can get past BU on Friday, is more likely to need to raise the Lamoniello Trophy if they hope to be in the NCAA tournament field.


    • If Lowell shows up for each game like they did tonight, they will be in Chicago for the Frozen Four.
      Since you can be Lowell’s biggest critic on this discussion board, exactly, what part of their game did you not like tonight?

      • Well, I’m in Florida (as of game time), so aside from following online and looking at the stats, I can’t comment.

      • As much as I wish this was true, I’m not convinced that UNH is the right barometer here. I’m withholding my judgement until after Friday’s game – they’ve got as good a shot as any to win the HE tourney but I think ND is the toughest opponent of the group. The math doesn’t seem to show any way of Lowell getting on the 1-line in the NCAA and that’s going to be a killer in trying to get to Chicago. In my opinion.

        • Will be hard to beat BU and their last minute power plays in regulation or OT. You’d think Jack Parker was still coaching. Would like to have a drink with the NU coach and hear HIS thoughts……

  1. UNH got Umile-ated tonight. I wonder when they actually going to release him as a coach. His top line did nothing in any of the 3 games and his goalie got eaten alive today.

    • UNH will not release Umile. He’s on the last year of his contract anyways and he can (and may) retire, as they have pretty much already hired Souza to replace him, but they won’t release him. UML always does a great job shutting down top lines. Bazin says they don’t focus on that, but they absolutely do. Tirone is the national saves leader (by a lot), for a reason. he won’t be caught unless Notre Dame makes a long run in the NCAA’s. They leave him hanging out on his own quite often, defense is horrible. Most of the goals UML scored, there isn’t a UNH defender near him. I can maybe blame him for the first and last goals, the others are on the rest of the team. He’s a fierce competitor and could/would be a very good goalie on any team that had a real defense. That said, good luck in Boston and the NCAA’s.

    • It’s the choice of the highest remaining seed. If they are playing at 5:00, it’s because they picked that game time.

      • Actually that’s what we always thought to be the case but we learned last year to be false as BC (#1 seed) was put in the late game for TV purposes. Lowell (#4) and PC (#2) had that triple OTer in the early game….

        • Maybe it has changed just in the past year or two, but it was always this way. I haven’t heard that it changed, but it certainly could have. Being at some post game press conferences, the question always came up. The top seed had choice and usually they picked the first game because they knew when the game would start and the players could go through their regular routine, just a couple hours earlier. The players in game #2 didn’t always know how to prepare properly because of the multiple OT possibilities.

      • In Providence we always thought the highest seeded coach chose the time and Jerry usually picked the 5pm game assuming BC would win and not have the short turn around. That 3OT game was excruciating and messed up NESN as well as the 2nd game start time and fans leaving times. It was a late hoarse ride back to RI that night.

    • Nah, I don’t see this as the short end of the stick. If they win, unless it goes 3OT again, they get a few extra hours of rest. Plus the fans get to start pregaming a bit earlier too!

  2. Best of luck River Hawks; annihilate those shiny helmeted posers who never belonged in HE anyway. I sincerely hope you take the Championship and auto bid and are seeded in Providence or Manchester so your loyal fans can attend.

    • Viva L’Alliance! Unfortunately it looks like Fake Hockey East will be representing Hockey East in NCAAs. Lowell will do their best to keep them from the tournament title after BU kept them from the regular season title.

      • That would be perfect for both our teams. I’ve always liked the Chiefs oops River Hawks going back to the division II pre HE days with McT. Only times I don’t root for them naturally are head to head v Providence!

  3. Lowell looked great all weekend except the goalie, Wall. If they come out and attack and Wall plays just a decent weekend, they should take both games. BC shocked most people including the 2 picking games on USCHO last Friday. BU has the most talent so they are dangerous. ND is very solid and have a lot of motivation to end their HE tenure with a Championship. I like ULowell’s chances to get back the LL trophy. Love that 1st line. Joey G would be a nice addition to the Bruins as he could play on their 3rd line now. Go Hawks


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