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Boston College vs. New Hampshire For The Hockey East Title: How Much Does It Matter?

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It's hard to believe that the Eagles have won two of the last three National Championships, but haven't won a Hockey East regular season title since 2005. Recently, the Hockey East regular season crown has been owned by the New Hampshire Wildcats, who have won three of the last four regular season titles and can make it four of five with a win tonight in Chestnut Hill.

For the second straight year, the Hockey East regular season crown comes down to the final weekend of the Hockey East regular season -- a winner-take-all home-and-home series pitting Hockey East's 1 vs. 2 against one another. York = pumped.

"It's a unique situation that in the last weekend of the season we'll determine where the trophy is going to go," said BC coach Jerry York. "It's been a long time since we've won the regular season.

"We acknowledge the fact we're in a pennant race. We've held serve [to date] in the race and have played ourselves out of it. We're excited by it."

Over the last several years, Hockey East programs have taken up their familiar dominant roles on the Hockey East calendar. Boston University has owned the Beanpot, while New Hampshire has owned the Hockey East regular season. And Boston College ... well, we win the ones that matter: the Hockey East Championship -- three of the last four -- and a pair of National Championships.

It's easy to say this year's Hockey East regular season title doesn't matter. Give it to UNH, you might say. Recent history would suggest that the regular season title is a piece of hardware BC doesn't need to have success in the Hockey East postseason and the NCAAs.

This year though, more is on the line than simply a meaningless regular season title.

For one thing, while BC has locked up home ice for the Hockey East Quarterfinals, if York's boys slip up this weekend, they don't have a very strong grip on the no. 2 seed in the Hockey East Tournament. With a poor showing this weekend, BC can fall all the way to the 4 seed, and a first round matchup against the Maine Black Bears. Both Boston University and Merrimack can pass the Eagles in the final regular season standings, as both programs have much more manageable series in Hockey East's final weekend. 

A four seed not only would create a much tougher matchup in the Quarterfinals -- facing Maine versus a Vermont or UMass -- but it would also guarantee that the Eagles would face UNH before the Hockey East Championship Game. 

Bigger picture, New Hampshire improving its positioning for the NCAA Tournament as the Eagles' expense is bad news for BC. Most NCAA Tournament bracket projections have the Eagles as the no. 1 seed in the Northeast regional in Manchester. Sending BC to Manchester is made possible by the fact that UNH is currently slotted as a 3 seed in that regional. The Wildcats have to be placed in the Northeast as hosts of the Regional. With a letdown this weekend, BC could fall to a NCAA Tournament #2 seed while UNH could improve to a #2 seed. If BC and UNH are both slotted as 2 seeds, the Eagles will either be sent to the East Regional (Bridgeport, Ct.), opposite no. 1 seeded Yale, or sent West. If Yale slips up in the ECAC Tournament or gets overtaken by Michigan, New Hampshire, Denver and others, the Bulldogs, as host of the East Regional, could similarly shut BC out of New England's other NCAA Regional.

Seeing that the Eagles have never won the National Championship after being sent West for the NCAA Regionals, it's probably in BC's best interest to stay close to home and avoid getting sent out West. That's why this weekend's games against UNH are so important. Not so much for the Hockey East Tournament, but for the NCAA Tournament selection process.