Hockey East leads with six teams in NCAA field


Six Hockey East teams were named to the 16-team NCAA Tournament field, with defending Frozen Four champion Providence leading the way as a No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional in nearby Worcester.

Quinnipiac (29-3-7) was named the overall No. 1 seed and will face RIT (18-14-6) in the opening round of the East Regional in Albany, NY.

St. Cloud State and North Dakota, both of the NCHC, are the other No. 1 seeds for the West and Midwest regionals in St. Paul and Cincinnati, respectively.

The brackets were announced Sunday. While there were non surprises, there are plenty of intriguing matchups.

While Providence (27-6-4) plays in its back yard against Minnesota Duluth (18-15-5), North Dakota (30-6-4) will travel 1,018 miles to Cincinnati to take on the hottest team in the country – Hockey East tournament champion Northeastern (22-13-5).

Since opening the season 1-11-2, the Huskies are 21-2-3 and riding a 13-0-1 streak. They had to win their conference tournament, their first title since 1988, to make the field.

Northeastern drew North Dakota after the Fighting Hawks went 0-1-1 in the NCHC tournament. UND finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the country in both national polls. Their loss to Duluth on Friday and tie with Denver on Saturday opened the door for St. Cloud State (31-8-1) to grab the second No. 1 seed and stay closer to home in St. Cloud in the West regional, where they will face WCHA champion Ferris State (19-14-6).

No team has repeated as national champion since 2004-2005 when Denver had back-to-back titles. The 16 teams in the tournament have combined for 37 national titles.

Michigan leads all teams with nine titles while North Dakota and Denver have seven each. UND has been to the past two Frozen Fours and is one of four NCHC teams in the field while the ECAC has three teams and the Big Ten, WCHA and AHC each represented by its tournament champion.

A quick look at each region:

Albany, NY (Saturday-Sunday)


  • Quinnipiac (29-3-7) vs. RIT (18-14-6)
  • Yale (19-8-4) vs. UMass Lowell (24-9-5)

The Bobcats won their first ECAC tournament title over the weekend, but lost leading scorer Sam Anas in the title game when he was driven into the boards. His status for this weekend’s games is uncertain and Quinnipiac faces an RIT team that stunned Minnesota State in the opening round last season.

Yale vs UMass Lowell features two of the top defensive teams in the nation. The Bulldogs earned the final at-large bid when Michigan knocked off Minnesota in the Big Ten title game. Last season, Providence won the national title after earning the final at-large berth.

Yale was swept in the opening round of the ECAC tournament despite putting 96 shots on Dartmouth goalie Charles Grant. Now with fresh legs, they’ll face a Mass Lowell team that played a triple overtime thriller in the Hockey East semifinals against Providence.


In Worcester (Friday-Saturday)


  • Providence (27-6-4) vs. Duluth (18-15-5)
  • Harvard (19-10-4) vs. Boston College (26-7-5)

The defending national champion Friars lost in triple overtime to UMass Lowell in the Hockey East semifinal and will  be without the services of star defenseman Jake Walman, who is out for the season with an injury.

Providence faces a Duluth squad that knocked off No. 1 North Dakota in the NCHC semifinals and won seven straight before its conference title game loss to St. Cloud State.

Game 2 features two Hobey Baker finalists in BC goalie Thatcher Demko and Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey.

Boston College and Providence tied for the Hockey East regular season title, while Duluth goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo is playing as well anyone in the country.


In Cincinnati (Friday-Saturday)


  • North Dakota (30-6-4) vs. Northeastern (22-13-5)
  • Notre Dame (19-10-7) vs. Michigan (24-7-5)

The team no No. 1 seed wanted to face in the opening round is hard-charging Northeastern, which needed to win the Hockey East title to lock down its tournament bid after its horrific start to the season.

North Dakota earned the chance to derail the Huskies after the Fighting Hawks were upset by Duluth in the semifinals of the NCHC tournament and tied Denver in the the consolation game. UND has reached the past two Frozen Fours and now travels 1,000 miles to be the top seed in a regional ripe with offensive talent.

Big Ten champion Michigan has the No. 1 line in the nation with freshman phenom Kyle Connor and juniors JT Comper and Tyler Motte all being named Hobey Baker finalists. Buoyed by the Hobey Line — also known as the CCM Line — Michigan leads the country in scoring at 4.8 goals per game and has the top power play at 31.76.

Notre Dame, which waited for an at-large berth after being swept in the the Hockey East opening round by Northeastern, is well rested and has one of the nation’s top goalies in Cal Petersen.


In St. Paul (Saturday-Sunday)


  • St. Cloud State (31-8-1) vs. Ferris State (19-4-6)
  • Boston University (21-12-5) vs. Denver (23-9-6)

St. Cloud earned its first NCHC tournament title for the right to stay close to home and take on WCHA champion Ferris State, ranked 30th in Pairwise.

Ferris knocked off WCHA No. 1 seed Michigan Tech, 1-0, in the tournament semifinals and beat co-league champion Minnesota State 2-1 in the conference title game behind Gerald Mayhew’s penalty shot with 26 seconds remaining in the second period.

SCSU ranks second in the nation offensively at 4.2 goals per game and goalie Charlie Lindgren leads the country with 30 wins.

BU, last year’s Frozen Four runnerup, was swept by UMass Lowell in the opening round of the Hockey East tournament and earned an at-large berth. The Terriers will face Denver, which boasts the Pacific Rim line and had won 11 straight before its loss to St. Cloud State in semifinals of the conference tournament.

BU and Denver met early in the season, with the Terriers grinding out a 5-4 overtime win on Oct. 31.


Above: Defending champion Providence was named No. 1 seed in the Northeast Region. (Courtesy Providence Athletics)


Dave Dondoneau

Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu