The curtain has come down on one of the most exciting seasons in the 32-year history of Hockey East and it took until the final buzzer of the final game for the teams and fans to learn where their favorite teams finished in the standings and who they will face in the opening round of the conference’s playoffs.
Boston College and defending national champion Providence College are Hockey East regular season co-champions. Each team ended their seasons with 35 points in 22 games and have earned a first-round bye.
Also earning first round byes are third place finisher Notre Dame (32 points) and fourth place UMass Lowell (28 points).
The remaining seven conference clubs will face off next weekend with the matchups and schedules as follows:
No. 5 Boston University welcomes No. 12 Massachusetts to Agganis Arena after the Terriers swept the season series, 2-0-0. Historically, BU is 6-0 all-time in the Hockey East playoffs against the Minutemen, with all six wins coming in the quarterfinal round of play. The two programs last met in the postseason in 2006.
No. 6 Northeastern locked up the sixth spot, drawing No. 11 Maine in playoffs for the first time since 2001 quarterfinals when the Black Bears knocked off the Huskies in two straight games. The programs finished the regular season with a two-game set at Northeastern Feb. 26-27, with the Huskies taking each of those tilts. After starting the year 2-12-3, North-eastern is 14-1-2 in its last 17 games and has won its last seven. This occasion marks the seventh all-time postseason meeting between the two squads, with Maine boasting a 6-1 record in the previous six series.
No. 7 Merrimack plays host to No. 10 New Hampshire after the teams shuffled spots over the last weekend of play. New Hampshire emerged victorious over the Warriors in the regular season, taking a 1-0-1 record. The Wildcats command an 8-1 record all-time in the postseason against Merrimack. The last time the two teams met, it was on TD Garden ice in the 2011 Hockey East semifinals, where Merrimack advanced to the championship game for the first and only time in program history.
No. 8 UConn earned the right to host a Hockey East playoff series in just the second season of play in the league and will face off with No. 9 Vermont. In the first appearance in the Hockey East playoffs in 2015, UConn fell twice in the opening round to New Hampshire. Vermont has advanced out of the opening round each of the two times it has drawn into the first weekend of postseason play. Last season, the Catamounts topped Maine in three games before toppling then-No. 3 Boston College in a three-game set to advance to the semifinals at TD Garden.
Date Game Time
Thu., March 3 No. 10 New Hampshire at Merrimack 7 p.m.
Fri., March 4 No. 11 Maine at No. 6 Northeastern 7 p.m.
Fri., March 4 No. 10 New Hampshire at No. 7 Merrimack 7 p.m.
Fri., March 4 No. 9 Vermont at No. 8 UConn 7 p.m.
Fri., March 4 No. 12 UMass at No. 5 Boston University 7:30 p.m.
Sat., March 5 No. 12 UMass at No. 5 Boston University 7 p.m.
Sat., March 5 No. 11 Maine at No. 6 Northeastern 7 p.m.
Sat., March 5 No. 9 Vermont at No. 8 UConn 7 p.m.
Sun., March 6 No. 9 Vermont at No. 8 UConn* 5 p.m.
Sun., Match 6 No. 12 UMass at No. 5 Boston University* 7 p.m.
Sun., March 6 No. 11 Maine at No. 6 Northeastern* 7 p.m.
Sun., March 6 No. 10 New Hampshire at No. 7 Merrimack* 7 p.m.
* if necessary
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL/NCAA Hockey Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.