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Women's Hockey East Tournament Preview: Time To Go To Work

The Eagles are the clear favorites to win the 2015 WHEA tournament, but the Terriers have won 4 of the last 5 titles.

BC Athletics

Trophy Season! It's here!

It's tournament time in women's hockey. The puck drops on the conference quarterfinals tomorrow, with the tournaments representing the last chance some teams have of claiming a spot in the NCAA regionals in two short weeks.

The women's Hockey East bracket is set, with the Eagles heading into the tournament as the #1 seed, having locked up the regular season title with four games to spare. BU came in as a clear #2, and the rest was a mess with no other teams reaching the .500 mark.

Incredibly, the Terriers have won 4 of the last 5 Hockey East championships. The Eagles have won just one, ever, in 2011. BC is going to need to show that it can win overcome whatever it is holding them back against BU.

Let's break down each quarterfinal, starting with the Eagles.

Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, MA
Best 2 of 3, Friday through Sunday (if necessary)

(8) Providence College Friars (6-23-4, 5-15-1 WHEA)
at (1) Boston College Eagles (30-1-2, 20-0-1 WHEA)

2014-2015 Head To Head:
10/31/14: @BC 8, PC 0
11/1/14: BC 4, @PC 1
1/30/15: BC 4, @PC 2

Looking at the records of these two teams, this quarterfinal series should really be a formality. Up until a couple years ago, the Hockey East tournament only took the top six teams and gave the top two seeds a bye—which sounded great in theory, until year after year the top two seeds struggled in the semifinals and finals after getting rusty with the two week break.

Now, Hockey East throws the bottom two teams to the wolves as a sacrificial lamb for the #1 and #2 seeds to warm up against. New this year is the fact that the quarterfinals are best 2 out of 3, almost assuring the top two seeds a bye while still giving them the warmup.

This year, BC had three very different games against the Friars. The 8-0 win on 10/31 was BC's last before five Eagles headed to Canada for the Four Nations tournament with Team USA. The lower lines took care of business with a 4-1 win the next day, but 1/30 was with a full-strength BC team and the Eagles struggled to score, only beating the lowly Friars 4-2.

Those two games were on the road, though, where the Eagles struggled. Away from Conte Forum, BC scored 68 goals in 16 games. Not bad. But on home ice, the Eagles potted a whopping 100 goals in 16 games.

Prediction: Friday: BC 6, PC 0...Saturday: BC 7, PC 1. All signs point to BC finding its stride this weekend against the Friars. It would be a Lake Placid-level miracle for the Friars to pull this off, and it would have to happen twice. You can sharpie BC into Hyannis next week.

Walter Brown Arena, Boston, MA
Best 2 of 3, Friday through Sunday (if necessary)

(7) Vermont Catamounts (15-17-2, 6-14-1 WHEA)
at (2) Boston University Terriers (21-8-3, 15-5-1 WHEA)

2014-2015 Head To Head:
12/6/14: BU 4, @UVM 1
1/24/15: UVM 2, @BU 0
1/25/15: @BU 9, UVM 2

You could not possibly have matched up two more inconsistent teams. All you need to do it look at the head to head matchups.

With just a few weeks to go in the regular season, Vermont traveled to #6 BU and shut out the 4th best offense in the country. The next night, they were completely dominated by a score of 9-2. Earlier in the season, Vermont beat North Dakota, who just recently toppled Minnesota. Try and fit that one in your head.

Vermont is the closest team to .500, despite riding in last place in Hockey East for almost the entire season. It was only a final weekend sweep of the Friars that moved the Catamounts up to 7th.

The Terriers, at first glance, appear to be playing pretty good hockey of late. They tied BC at Walter Brown to end the season, after all. But their schedule has been very soft, and other than the tie to the Eagles, their two other games against decent teams were a 5-0 smackdown by the Eagles at Conte and a 9-2 disaster against Harvard in the Beanpot semifinals.

Prediction: Friday: BU 4, UVM 1...Saturday: BU 3, UVM 2 (OT). For a 2v7 matchup, this one is surprisingly difficult to pick. It wouldn't surprise me to see Vermont take this to three games, but BU should still come out of this one and will probably sweep. Look for one of the games to be a one-goal affair, though.

Matthews Arena, Boston, MA
Best 2 of 3, Friday through Sunday (if necessary)

(6) New Hampshire Wildcats (9-21-3, 6-13-2 WHEA)
at (3) Northeastern Huskies (12-15-5, 11-8-2 WHEA)

2014-2015 Head To Head:
10/30/14: NU 2, @UNH 0
2/21/15: NU 5, @UNH 1
2/22/15: @NU 3 , UNH 1

And now, we delve into the murky realm of Hockey East teams who are all bad, but who, on a given night, just need to end up being less bad than the team they're playing.

Neither of these teams have had impressive seasons. Northeastern in particular has been a huge disappointment, posting a record under .500 despite getting one of the best players in the country back from the Olympic year in Kendall Coyne. Coyne is 4th in the country with 1.70 PPG, but the problem is she's the entire team. She leads the nation in shots by 63, with 239, and the next highest Husky is in 91st place with 88.

UNH, though, has really been on the struggle bus. They just can't find the back of the net. They are 30th out of 34 in scoring, though they've been slightly better over the last month or so.

Prediction: Friday: NU 3, UNH 1...Saturday: UNH, NU 2...Sunday: NU 2, UNH 1 (OT). Just on Coyne's stick alone, the Huskies should be able to pull this off. It's hard to be as bad as the Huskies have been with one of the best players in the country on the roster—picture the BU men well below .500 despite the apEichelypse. So I do think Northeastern end up in Hyannis.

Alfond Arena, Orono, ME
Best 2 of 3, Friday through Sunday (if necessary)

(5) UConn Huskies (9-17-8, 5-11-5 WHEA)
at (4) Maine Black Bears (10-18-3, 9-11-1 WHEA)

2014-2015 Head To Head:
10/31/14: @UC 3, UM 3 (OT)
2/21/15: UC 2, @UM 1 (OT)
2/22/15: UC 6, @UM 2

Another matchup between two teams that faced each other last weekend. It was the lower seed, UConn, that came away with the sweep. Heading into the weekend, the Huskies were tied with Providence and still had a shot of dropping all the way down to 8th.

This is an intriguing matchup for people who like matchups between two bad teams. Consider, Maine is 20th in defense and 29th in offense, while UConn is 20th in offense and 27th in defense. Not exactly strength versus strength...let's call it weakness versus weakness?

How will this series break? With two of the conference's best goalies, will we see Peak Chuli or Peak Treacy? How will UConn handle two straight weekends of the longest trip in the conference, the 320 mile trek up I-95 from Storrs to Orono?

Prediction: Friday: UM 4, UC 0...Saturday: UC 2, UM 1...Sunday: UC 3, UM 1. All the bus travel will finally take its toll on the Huskies in game one, but it's hard to ignore the road sweep to end the season, especially the touchdown on Sunday. Look for the Huskies to advance in 3 games.