Previewing the Northeast Regional: Cornell, Michigan, Northeastern, Boston University

Josh Kosack (26 - Union), Cody Haiskanen (3 - Cornell), Matthew Galajda (35 - Cornell) (2018 Omar Phillips)
Cody Haiskanen (3) and Matthew Galajda lead Cornell’s defense heading into this weekend’s Northeast Regional (photo: Omar Phillips).

Northeast Regional

At DCU Center, Worcester, Mass., March 24-25

• Saturday: Cornell vs. Boston University, 1 p.m., ESPNews
• Saturday: Michigan vs. Northeastern, 4:30 p.m., ESPNews
• Sunday: Saturday winners, 4 p.m., ESPN2

No. 1 Cornell

Overall record: 25-5-2

ECAC Hockey record: 17-3-2

Playoff results: Swept Quinnipiac in the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals, lost to Princeton in ECAC Hockey semifinals

How they got in: At-large bid

Why they will advance to the Frozen Four: Cornell has been its typical stingy self on defense this year, allowing 1.52 goals on defense thanks in part to a .940 save percentage by freshman goalie Matthew Galajda. However, the Big Red are scoring more than they have in the past, averaging more than three goals per game.

Why they will not advance to the Frozen Four: Cornell is a very young team, as eight freshmen saw regular playing time this year. The Big Red might be deep on offense, but with the exception of junior Anthony Angello, there isn’t one player who can take over a game.

Notable quotable: “It’s going back to the drawing board. Sometimes we’ve had just a great season people overlook that we had five freshman forwards, a freshman goalie, and two freshman defensemen in our lineup.” – Cornell coach Mike Schafer

— Nate Owen

12 Jan 18: The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers host the University of Michigan Wolverines in a B1G matchup at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, MN (Jim Rosvold/USCHO.com)
Michigan celebrates a goal earlier this season on the road against Minnesota (photo: Jim Rosvold/USCHO.com).

No. 2 Michigan

Overall record: 20-14-3

Big Ten record: 11-11-3-2

Playoff results: Swept Wisconsin in Big Ten quarterfinals, lost to Ohio State in overtime in Big Ten semifinals

How they got in: At-large bid

Why they will advance to the Frozen Four: After a disappointing first half, the Wolverines improved in every aspect of their game since beating Michigan State in the consolation game of the Great Lakes Invitational. Michigan is also a team with something to prove, having been picked sixth in the Big Ten preseason poll. There is a lot of youthful enthusiasm on this team – and a lot of talent. Then there’s the NCAA tournament experience of the coaching staff, which is considerable.

Why they will not advance to the Frozen Four: The inconsistency that plagued Michigan in the first half of the season always threatens to return, especially since the team is so young. The Wolverines can give up a lot of goals in a game, too.

Notable quotable: “Coach Berenson and I were just talking about Yale the one year. Nobody expected Yale to do much. Even our team in ’98, we didn’t win anything that year. We got in the tournament, we got some puck luck and some bounces. We had 10 freshmen and the next thing you know, you win a championship. Anything’s possible. This time of year, you have to be good, but you have to have some luck on your side.” – Michigan first-year coach Mel Pearson, who spent 22 years next to Red Berenson on the Michigan bench

— Paula C. Weston

 (Tim Brule)
Northeastern’s 2018 Beanpot title was the school’s first in 30 years (photo: Melissa Wade).

No. 3 Northeastern

Overall record: 23-9-5

Hockey East record: 15-6-3

Playoff results: Swept Massachusetts in Hockey East quarterfinals, lost to Providence in overtime in Hockey East semifinals

How they got in: At-large bid

Why they will advance to the Frozen Four: Northeastern might possess the most potent line in the nation in Dylan Sikura, Adam Gaudette and Nolan Stevens. Add in Jeremy Davies and you create a nearly unstoppable power play as well. When you can score like this year’s Northeastern team, it can be nearly impossible to stop.

Why they will not advance to the Frozen Four: If Michigan or the other teams in Worcester can shut down Huskies offense as effectively as what Providence executed in last Friday’s Hockey East semifinals, you can make this Northeastern team look mortal.

Notable quotables: “I see them doing what they’ve done all season long. They’ve carried the load all season long. They’re a group that wants the pressure put upon their shoulders and have responded. I like the balance we’re creating on offense. But that No. 1 line is like your No. 1 starter in baseball. You’re going to turn the ball over [to them] once a week. They’re going to lead us way for us this upcoming weekend.” – NU coach Jim Madigan, on the pressure that will be on his top line of Sikura-Gaudete-Stevens during the NCAA tournament

“That program has had a level of excellence for many years. We’re to play such a good team. They’re a fast team. They’re a skilled team. They get good goaltender. They’re balanced in all three areas of the game. We know we’re going to have to play fast and get the good goaltending we’ve been getting. We’re going to have to play a 200-foot game.” – Madigan, on opening-round opponent Michigan

“We’re really excited to be close to home in Worcester. Hopefully a lot of fans can make it out to the games. And playing Michigan, it’s a great program so we’re excited for the challenge.” – Northeastern captain Nolan Stevens, on playing in the Northeast Regional

— Jim Connelly

Brandon Hickey (BU - 4) - The Boston University Terriers defeated the visiting Union College Dutchmen 4-1 (2 EN) in their opening game of the 2017-18 season on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. (Melissa Wade)
Brandon Hickey compiled 13 points in 33 games this season, and also served as BU’s captain (photo: Melissa Wade).

No. 4 Boston University

Overall record: 21-13-4

Hockey East record: 12-8-1

Playoff results: Swept Connecticut in Hockey East quarterfinals, defeated Boston College in overtime in Hockey East semifinals, defeated Providence in Hockey East championship

How they got in: Won Hockey East championship

Why they will advance to the Frozen Four: The Terriers have all the tools and finally, over the last month, have found a way to put things together. They are easily the most dangerous No. 4 seed in the tournament.

Why they will not advance to the Frozen Four: This team has been predictably unpredictable all season long. The Terriers can’t afford that in a single-elimination tournament.

Notable quotables: “I can’t tell you how good I feel for our players and our school. It’s been a tale of two halves. It looked [earlier this year] like there really wasn’t a lot of hope. We started getting better goaltending. Our defense started playing better. Our freshmen started to emerge a little bit. It just started snowballing. We kept at it. We didn’t look at the big picture. We just started looking at each and every game on the schedule.” – BU coach David Quinn, on his team’s season to date

“This was the first time that we had to win [Hockey East] to get to the national tournament. What had to go into it, the adversity we faced and the path we created for ourselves, just says an awful lot about the guys in the locker room. It’s such a great group to coach.” – Quinn, on how difficult the postseason road has been

— Jim Connelly

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