Hockey World Blog

2016 NCAA Tournament – Northeast Regional Preview

Northeast Regional

Site: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts
Friday’s schedule:No. 1 Providence (27-6-4) vs. No. 4 Minnesota Duluth (18-15-5), 4:30 p.m. Eastern time, ESPN3/WatchESPN; No. 2 Boston College (26-7-5) vs. No. 3 Harvard (19-10-4), 8 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNU/WatchESPNSaturday’s schedule: Semifinal winners, 9 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNU/WatchESPN

Providence

Record: 27-6-4 (16-3-3 Hockey East, second)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championship: 2015
Player to watch for: Nick Ellis (35 GP, 25-6-4, 1.81 GAA, .935 SV%)

Overview: The defending champions start their title defense close to home. The Friars have had stellar goaltending from Ellis, who put up better numbers than what Jon Gilles did last year. They have a very balanced group of scorers, as they have five players with double-digit goals and assists. Those scorers scored between 11 and 15 goals, with two more scoring nine. One of those scorers (Jake Walman) is out for the tournament after undergoing surgery this week. Walman’s 13 goals led all defenseman nationally. For them to win another title, they need someone to find the back of the net. Any drought and they could set themselves for a long overtime defeat like they did in the Hockey East semi’s against UMass-Lowell.

Minnesota Duluth

Record: 18-15-5 (11-10-3-1 NCHC, fourth)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championship: 2011
Player to watch for: Kasimir Kaskisuo (37 GP, 18-14-5, 1.92 GAA, .922 SV%)

Overview: Essentially the last team in, the Bulldogs enter the tournament already in a playoff mindset. Like Providence, they don’t have any one scorer who they can look for to score a big goal. Balanced in scoring (four players between 10-15 goals), they have to maintain their 8th ranked defense and keep the scoring low to upset the defending champions. What could work in their favor is the last two “Last Team In” squads went on to win the national title.

Boston College

Record: 26-7-5 (15-2-5 HEA, first)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: 1949, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012
Player to watch for: Thatcher Demko (36 GP, 25-7-4, 1.86 GAA, .935 SV%)

Overview: The Eagles have everything you’d want in a tournament team: high scoring offense, stingy defense, and one of the best goalies in the nation. But Boston College has been disappointing in March the last few seasons, not reaching the Hockey East championship game and going one-and-done in the NCAA tournament. What’s working in their favor is Demko is one of the top goalies in the nation and his play could lead the Eagles back to Tampa, where they won their last national championship. How 10 shutouts is top of the list nationally. But first, they’d have to beat familiar Beanpot foe in Harvard.

Harvard

Record: 19-10-4 (12-6-4 ECAC, second)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: 1989
Player to watch for: Jimmy Vesey (32 GP, 24-22–46)

Overview: The Crimson enters the tournament with the ninth-ranked offense nationally. But they are front-loaded at the top with the line of Vesey, Alexander Kerfoot and Kyle Criscuolo. Those three each reaching over 30 points and Vesey is one of 15 players nationally with 20 goals and 20 assists. It’ll be interesting to see how this line fares against Demko. The penalty kill could be a concern for Harvard, as they gave up three power play goals to Quinnipiac in the league title game and ranked 22nd on the penalty kill. However they are very disciplined as their 97 penalty kill opportunities are second-fewest nationally.

Prediction: Providence over Boston College

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