We knew UMass-Amherst and Boston College would qualify for the NCAA men’s hockey tournament - but after that, the picture got a little murkier.
Now we know: BC and UMass will be joined by Boston University, but Providence, UConn, and UMass-Lowell will all sit on the sidelines.
There was some controversy over which team among Providence, UConn, and Lowell deserved a potential fourth Hockey East bid, given their similar records. The committee appears to have sidestepped the problem entirely by adding a third WCHA team to the tournament, Bemidji State.
It’s hard to say anyone who got left out has much to complain about - when you finish around .500., your tournament fate is going to be questionable.
That said, the overall conference balance came as a surprise: 4 from the Big Ten, as many as from the generally undisputed top conference, the NCHC, while Denver misses the field entirely. Then, the committee selected 3 from both Hockey East and the WCHA, despite a huge gulf in perceived quality between the two. One team qualified from Atlantic Hockey and the ECAC to round out the field.
Providence was flagged as the ‘first team out,’ which means if any team drops out due to COVID issues by 7 PM tonight, PC will take their place in the field.
BC will be the #1 seed in the Northeast regional in Albany, facing Notre Dame in the first round.
BU joins the Eagles in the Albany regional and will face St. Cloud State in the 2-3 matchup.
UMass is in the East regional in Bridgeport, and faces Lake Superior State on Friday in their first round matchup.
Hockey East will be hoping to qualify two teams to this year’s Frozen Four in PIttsburgh.
The last time the Frozen Four was held - two years ago, in Buffalo, NY - two Hockey East teams qualified, UMass and Providence. The Minutemen made the NCAA final before falling to Minnesota-Duluth.
The most recent Hockey East team to win the title was, remarkably, Providence College all the way back in 2015. It’s been all NCHC all the time since that historic all-HEA final in Boston. Prior to this six year drought, you’d have to go back to the dry spell between BC’s 2001 and 2008 titles for the last time Hockey East went this long between national titles.