Hockey East Playoff Picture Out of Focus

Two weeks remain in the Hockey East regular season and the playoff picture could not be fuzzier.

The top four teams will receive a first-round bye into the postseason and five teams are in the mix.

Notre Dame (30 points) resides in first place followed by Boston College (29 points), Providence College (27 points), UMass Lowell (26 points), and Boston University (23 points). Any combination of those five clubs could finish in the top four.

The next tier consists of the teams that will see action in the first round. It is just a question of who will face off against who and where.

Those teams are Northeastern University (16 points), University of Vermont (15 points), University of New Hampshire (13 points), University of Connecticut (12 points), Merrimack College (11 points), University of Maine (10 points), and University of Massachusetts (8 points).

The format involving these clubs plus one from the first group mentioned will be:

5 vs 12

6 vs 11

7 vs 10

8 vs 9

UMass Lowell, who will travel to Springfield, Massachusetts on Tuesday for a non-conference tilt versus American International College, has just two Hockey East games remaining. The River Hawks will play a home and home series this coming weekend against Boston College.

Unfortunately, for UML, the other clubs in top four contention have four games to play on their schedules, meaning the River Hawks can, at best, finish the season with 30 points, which may be enough to see them finish in position for a first-round bye.

I may be going out on that proverbial limb, but I predict UMass Lowell will finish among Hockey East’s elite four teams.

You gotta love this time of year on your college hockey calendar.

River Hawk Earns Weekly Award

For the second time this season, UMass Lowell defenseman Dylan Zink (pictured above) was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.

The native of Madison, Wisconsin registered a hat trick – first hat trick by a UML defenseman in 20 years – to pace his team’s 6-3 win over Boston University last Saturday. Zink also picked up an assist to exit the two-game series against the Terriers with four total points.

Zink is one of four River Hawks to be feted by the league this season. Goaltender Kevin Boyle has been awarded Defensive Player of the Week three times. Freshman Nick Master has received one Rookie of the Week honor while CJ Smith has been named Offensive Player of the Week once.

Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL/NCAA Hockey Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

Dylan Zink Photo: Rich Images Photography

Reprinted with permission of The Lowell Sun.

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