Predicting The Hockey East Tournament Field

Last night, we took a look at what BC needs to do to win the Hockey East regular season crown. Let's go a bit deeper, shall we?

Here's a look at the matchups for Hockey East's final weekend and how I see the final weekend unfolding: 

 

Boston University vs. Northeastern home-and-home

Northeastern has really come on strong in 2011, going 8-4-4 since the New Year, including earning 3 points over our Eagles and salvaging a point against UNH. Even though Boston University finished fourth in this year's Beanpot, the Terriers have actually gone undefeated in their last nine Hockey East games (7-0-2). 

Result: Boston University takes three of four points

Merrimack vs. Providence home-and-home

Merrimack was 14-1-0 this semester heading into their weekend series with Maine up at Alfond. The Warriors trip up to Orono wasn't very fruitful, however, as MC got waxed to the tune of 11-1. If there was ever a Hockey East opponent you wanted to face after such a thumping, ... it's UMass Lowell. But if there was a second Hockey East opponent you want to see, it's Providence. Merrimack finishes the season strong, sweeping the weekend.

Result: Merrimack sweeps

Maine at Massachusetts (x2)

UMass is just 3-13-2 this year, but hasn't been without its close calls, including losing the last four games against top 5 teams, all by one goal. Maine is fresh off a Merrimack beatdown. Tempted to say UMass finally breaks through and earns at least a point, but all indications are that Maine looked GOOD this weekend. 

Result: Maine sweeps

UMass Lowell at Vermont (x2)

Lowell is coming off a 7-2 win over Providence, its first win in its last seven games and just fifth of the season. Vermont has shown some resolve over the last two weekends, stealing a point from both New Hampshire and BU. Edge has to be given to the home team in this one, as Gutterson Fieldhouse is one of the toughest places to play in conference

Result: Vermont takes three of four points

Boston College vs. New Hampshire home-and-home

Finally, the best series of the weekend with the Hockey East regular season title hanging in the balance. BC is coming off a four-point weekend against UMass, while UNH earned three points over Northeastern. I just can't see BC sweeping the Wildcats over the weekend ... but, I can see BC winning at home and tying the Wildcats on Saturday up at the Whittemore Center.

[Totally unbiased] result: Boston College takes three of four points

 

Given the above results, I figure the final Hockey East standings will look like this:

1) Boston College - 40 points
2) New Hampshire - 39 points
3) Merrimack - 37 points
4) Boston University - 37 points
5) Maine - 34 points
6) Northeastern - 26 points
7) Vermont - 19 points
8) Massachusetts - 19 points

9) Providence - 13 points
10) UMass Lowell - 10 points

Merrimack ties BU for third place, but wins the head-to-head tiebreaker, having gone 1-0-2 against the Terriers. This gives us the following Hockey East Quarterfinal matchups, with regular season results in parentheses:

8 Massachusetts at 1 Boston College (BC 3-0-0)
7 Vermont at 2 New Hampshire (UNH 2-0-1)
6 Northeastern at 3 Merrimack (MC 2-1-0)
5 Maine at 4 Boston University (BU 1-0-2)

Here, I wouldn't anticipate BC or UNH having much trouble putting away UMass and Vermont, respectively. But the 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 matchups are really interesting. Maine and BU have tied twice already this year, with one of those ties coming in BU's one home game against the Black Bears. Merrimack won the regular season series vs. Northeastern 2-1-0, but the Huskies have been playing much better of late, and MC needed OT to win their only game against NU in 2011.

As of now, here are my Hockey East semifinal matchups:

6 Northeastern vs. 1 Boston College
4 Boston University vs. 2 New Hampshire

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