If the Boston College Eagles make it to the Frozen Four in Philadelphia, they will have to face the champion of the East Region, based out of Bridgeport. Which team of those four is likely to make it to the City of Cheesesteaks and allegedly Brotherly Love?
Regional Semifinal 1
(1) Union vs. (4) Vermont
The Dutchmen are the ECAC champions for the third-straight year, looking to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. They are legitimately one of the nation’s most dangerous teams and have to be the odds-on favorites to get out of this region.
First, they must face Hockey East’s own Vermont Catamounts. Boston College saw this team several times, and while Vermont had an overall resume that was just barely worthy of the tournament, they do seem to be outclassed in this one. One thing they do have going for them is their defense, as they boast a top-ten goals against average and penalty kill nationally (in the not too distant past, Vermont had a hideously bad kill, amongst the worst in the nation at 68.3 percent — needless to say they have improved).
Otherwise, there’s not much exciting about UVM. Union, however, is another story. Entering this tournament, they are the third overall seed, but they are first in the USCHO poll. College hockey fans will again get to know senior forward Daniel Carr, entering the tourney with 45 points on the season. Colin Stevens has been solid as a rock in goal for Schenectady, New York’s Dutchmen, allowing about 1.96 goals per game, but on the other end, this is the second-most potent offense in the nation behind your Boston College Eagles.
Union is about as complete a team as one will find in college hockey; Vermont will have their work cut out in this one.
Regional Semifinal 2
(2) Quinnipiac vs. (3) Providence
Another ECAC vs. Hockey East game in the East Region. This one features the Quinnipiac Bobcats and Providence Friars.
The Bobcats were the national runners-up last year, losing to their local rivals Yale in the title game. Here in 2014, Bridgeport is almost a home game for them, about half an hour away from their base of operations in Hamden, Connecticut.
Statistically, Quinnipiac is almost as good as Union, which is saying something because the Dutchmen are capable of winning the whole thing this season. The Bobcats are top-five nationally in goals for and goals against, showing off top-notch special teams and goaltending.
As for Providence, they’re a feisty sort of team that hung around near the top of Hockey East all season long. Their hard work finally paid off in getting back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years, but again, the Hockey East team is going to be the underdog. Given that Providence is a more average offensive team, a lot is going to ride on sophomore goalie Jon Gillies. It’s going to be a tall order.
Likeliest Regional Final
(1) Union vs. (2) Quinnipiac
It’s almost like this region has two one-seeds. That’s how it feels, anyway. The two ECAC foes are going to be hefty favorites to advance.
Hockey East had a bone to pick with the NCAA Tournament selection committee in that the Northeast features the conference’s top two teams, Boston College and UMass-Lowell, but the East clearly features the ECAC’s two best teams. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but it could make for one hell of a hockey game, complete with conference rival intensity.
The Bobcats and Dutchmen split their regular season meetings, potentially setting up a rubber game of Frozen Four proportions. It’s a very close call, but the hotter Union team would most likely have the edge to get to Philly.
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