With everyone now properly in a hockey spirit, and the #1 Boston College Eagles on the verge of clinching Hockey East’s regular-season championship, let’s talk tournament.
The 2014 Hockey East Tournament is drawing near, due to start in three weeks with the opening round. Boston College won’t be in that single-elimination round, but they will be waiting in the quarterfinals for the lowest seed that advances.
The quarterfinals will remain a best-of-three series as it has in the past, but whereas previous Hockey East Tournaments only saw eight teams qualify, this one will include the entire expanded conference of eleven teams. A real premium has been placed on being one of those top five teams in the conference, as they automatically receive byes to the quarters while the bottom six in Hockey East play in a one-off playoff game on the higher-seed campuses.
If the season ended today, the Eagles would wait for the lowest seed. The second seed would be the UMass-Lowell River Hawks, followed by the Maine Black Bears. New Hampshire would host Northeastern in the 4-5 series. From there, as it was in the past, the tournament would reseed and the Eagles, if they make it back to the TD Garden, would face the lowest seed to get out of the quarterfinals.
It is conceivable that Boston College could end up with a best-of-three against Notre Dame in four weeks at Kelley Rink. Aside from that, their path to and through the Garden looks doable, as they are the best team in the nation and other schools should be afraid to play them, not the other way around.
If everything shakes out as it should, Boston College and UMass-Lowell would be the last two teams standing. They will face off in regular-season action next week in a home-and-home, which could be previews of the conference title game in late March.