Six Hockey East Teams Make Tournament: Scouting Reports

Boston College

The Eagles are coming off of a shaky Hockey East tournament that included a series against Vermont headed to a third game and then a loss to Northeastern in the semi finals. There are a few concerns for the Eagles, including undisciplined play and a lack of urgency in the Vermont series.

Led by Hockey East rookie of the year Colin White, the Eagles are full of talent. Thatcher Demko is one of the best goalies in the nation, and Ryan Fitzgerald one of the top scorers. With 12 NHL draft picks, the Eagles might be on paper the most talented team in the tournament, or at least in Hockey East.

BC last faced its tournament opponent, Harvard, at the Beanpot at the TD Garden this past year. BC was able to get past the Crimson and move on to win the tournament overall. The Eagles have won the last five regionals that have taken place at Worcester, and were the top seed in three of those.

Boston University

BU is finally healthy and solidified in net, but being swept by UMass Lowell creates plenty to be worried about. The Terriers played one of their worst games of the season in the second game of the series against Lowell, and it was taking penalties that led to their demise, especially in game one.

The Terriers travel to Minnesota where they will face the University of Denver for the second time this season. On Halloween night, the Terriers defeated Denver 5-4 in overtime as senior Ahti Oksanen scored two goals.

BU might be overlooked after the losses to Lowell, but with one of the best scoring defenses in the league, and despite a lack of depth at forward, the Terriers are still a dangerous team. The Terriers top two lines can contend with almost any others in the nation. It’s a tough bracket for BU, as a win would almost certainly mean facing the top seed St Cloud State.

This is the furthest the Terriers have travelled all season, and the team is under .500 this year away from Agganis.

Northeastern

The hottest team in the nation had a historic Hockey East tournament that led to the team’s first conference championship since 1988. Northeastern is firing on all cylinders, playing in control against Boston College before holding on to defeat UMass Lowell.

The Huskies are healthy and team captain Kevin Roy is playing the best he has all season. Freshman goaltender Ryan Ruck has emerged as a more than viable option between the pipes.

Northeastern will take on a number one seed in North Dakota in the Midwest regional from Cincinnati.

Notre Dame

The last time we saw Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish were being swept off their own home ice at South Bend to Northeastern. Now the Irish get one of the toughest tests of any of the Hockey East teams in the tournament.

Notre Dame drew Michigan, a team coming off of a Big Ten conference championship victory over Minnesota, and the Wolverines are the hosts to the top three scorers in the nation. Led by Kyle Connor, who might end up the winner of the Hobey Baker award, the Wolverines offense is as dangerous as anyone in college hockey. Connor’s 69 points this season trail Jack Eichel’s 71 points last season for the second most ever from a freshman.

Cal Peterson has played well in net, but the Irish have lost five of their last six contests. This is a rough bracket for Notre Dame, and drawing Michigan might have been a worst case scenario. If the Irish were to move on, they are just 3-7-2 against the Hockey East teams who advanced as well.

Providence

The defending champions have been in control all season, and it took three overtimes on Friday night for UMass Lowell to knock them off. Nick Ellis was spectacular in net and kept the Friars in the game against the River Hawks.

The Friars will face off against Minnesota Duluth from Worcester, and even if they move on, will have to face the winner of Boston College and Harvard. Providence, despite being the defending national champs, may have the toughest bracket of any Hockey East team to get by.

Mark Jankowski has led the way scoring wise with 40 points this season for the Friars. With 3.32 goals per game, Providence is tied for tenth in the nation in scoring. The Friars have nine seniors, and despite losing Jon Gillies and Noel Acciari, retain a ton of experience from last season’s championship run.

UMass Lowell

Lowell has been in all four of the past Hockey East championships, and rather unnoticed, have built its own conference dynasty. With wins in six of their last eight games, the River Hawks are led by co Hockey East player of the year, and conference tournament MVP, Kevin Boyle in the crease.

Lowell draws #10 Yale, a team that is also led by strong netminding, with Alex Lyon between the pipes, who leads the nation with a 1.59 GAA. The Riverhawks struggle at times to get on the board, as evidenced by a 1-1 triple overtime playoff game against Providence. The River Hawks have seen a boost from Joe Gambardella, who has played excellent of late with the eyes of NHL scouts on him.

Yale is on pace to break the record for the best penalty kill percentage of a team ever, which is difficult for a Lowell team that sees a large portion of its offensive success on the power play. Its a tough draw for the River Hawks, but with Boyle playing the way that he is, they have a good chance.

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