There is a serious New England flavor in the 2013 NCAA men’s hockey tournament with Providence, R.I. (East), and Manchester, N.H. (Northeast), serving as two of the four regional sites, while five teams from New England are in the field of 16.
The tournament begins Friday afternoon with regional finals starting Saturday afternoon and ending Sunday night. This year’s Frozen Four is at Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center (home of the Penguins) on April 11 (4:30 and 8 p.m. on ESPN2) with the title game on April 13 (7 p.m., ESPN).
Boston College (22-11-4) lost in the Hockey East semifinals but they weren’t penalized too much as they received an at-large bid and the No. 2 seed in Providence. They’ll face No. 3 Union (21-12-5)- the ECAC tournament champion-on Saturday night (9 p.m., ESPNU) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Eagles are looking to become the first back-to-back NCAA hockey champs since Denver did it in 2004-05. Should they beat the Dutchmen, who reached the Frozen Four last season, BC would face the winner of the No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac (27-7-5) and No. 4 Canisius (19-18-5) on Easter night (6:30 p.m., ESPNU) for the last spot in the Frozen Four.
The two other Hockey East squads in the tournament, UMass Lowell (26-10-2) and UNH (19-11-7), won’t have to travel far as they’ll play at the Verizon Center in Manchester, NH. The No. 1 seed River Hawks are coming off their first ever Hockey East regular season title and Hockey East tournament crown. They face No. 4 Wisconsin (22-12-7) on Friday afternoon (4:30 p.m., ESPN3.com) while the No. 2 Wildcats (19-11-7) face No. 3 Denver (20-13-5) on Friday night (8 p.m., ESPNU). The winners meet on Saturday night (6:30 p.m., ESPNU).
The final team from New England, Yale, was lucky to receive an at-large bid after losing in the ECAC semifinals. The No. 4 seed Bulldogs face long odds against No. 1 Minnesota (26-8-5) when they meet on Friday afternoon (2 p.m., ESPNU) in the first round of the West Regional in Grand Rapids, MI. Should Yale pull off the major upset, they’d face the winner of No. 2 North Dakota (21-12-7) and No. 3 Niagara (23-9-5) on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m., ESPNU).