The 26th Hockey East Championship will be decided in the next two weeks. UNH won the regular season title (their 8th), and BC came a very close 2nd, only 1 point behind. Both UNH and BC will likely be in the NCAA Tournament. But there are several bubble teams that need strong showings in order to make that 16 team field.
The opening round is played at the campus of the better seed. It's also a best of 3 series. The semifinals and finals will be held at the TD Garden next weekend, and those rounds are 1 and done.
Vermont Catamounts @ New Hampshire Wildcats
UNH won the regular season title, but ended the season with a tight loss at BC. In fact, they never beat BC, tying them twice in their remaining meetings. They also didn't dominate Vermont, going 1-0-2 against the Catamounts. UVM is 17th in the PairWise Ranings, which is an unassailable indicator of a team's chances of making the NCAA tournament. In other words, they need to beat UNH in this round. And I think they will put up a good fight, but lose in 3 games.
Massachusetts Minutemen @ Boston College Eagles
BC needed overtime to beat UMass a few weeks ago. The Minutemen's size posed some problems to BC's small but speedy forwards. But in a 2 to 3 game series, BC's depth will wear down a team like UMass. BC wins this series in 2 games.
Merrimack College Warriors @ Boston University Terriers
BU has surged in the 2nd half of the season. After starting off 2-9-3, the Terriers have gone 12-5-0, earned 3rd place in Hockey East, and now have an outside shot at an NCAA bid. Albeit a VERY outside shot. They need to make the HE Tourney finals, at least. Merrimack's been a nice surprise, but when BU is motivated, they're always a hard team to beat. BU sweeps in 2 games.
Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks @ Maine Black Bears
These teams were tied in points, Maine won the tie-breaker, and so gets home ice advantage. Maine's been a bipolar team, sometimes beating UNH twice in a weekend, sometimes losing to Vermont twice in a weekend. They took 2 of 3 from UMass-Lowell. Big things were expected from the River Hawks this year, so while normally 5th place is a good year for them, they've got to be a little disappointed. UMass-Lowell has struggled on the road, as has Maine. Since the games will be in Orono, I'm giving the edge to the Black Bears in 3.
Maine upsets New Hampshire
BC beats BU
BC beats Maine