Hockey World Blog

2016 NCAA Tournament – East Regional Preview

East Regional

Site: Times Union Center, Albany, New York
Saturday’s schedule: No. 1 Quinnipiac (29-3-7) vs. No. 4 RIT (18-14-6), March 26, 4 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNU/WatchESPN; No. 2 Massachusetts Lowell (24-9-5) vs. No. 3 Yale (19-8-4), March 26, 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, ESPN3/WatchESPN
Sunday’s Schedule: Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNU/WatchESPN
Qunnipiac

Record: 29-3-7 (16-1-5 ECAC Hockey, first)
How they qualified: ECAC Champs
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: None
Player to watch for: Sam Anas (39 GP, 23-25–48)

Overview: Before this current senior class arrived in Hamden, the school had experienced one NCAA tournament appearance. In their four years, they have accomplished everything you can except for a national title. They’ve made the tournament four straight years, won three conference regular season titles and won the schools first conference tournament title last weekend. The No. 1 overall seed is determined to go all the way and with both offensive and defensive units ranking in the top six, they have everything a team would need to win a title. Michael Garteig has played all but 21 minutes in goal this season, which could be a question of how much he has left in the tank. The health of leading scorer Sam Anas looms heading into the tournament. He was injured in the first period and didn’t return to the game. If he doesn’t play, it’ll be a huge loss for the Bobcats.

Rochester Institute of Technology

Record: 18-14-6 (14-9-5 Atlantic Hockey, fifth)
How they qualified: Atlantic Hockey Champions
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: Division II: 1983, Division III: 1985
Player to watch for: Josh Mitchell (38 GP, 6-30–36)

Overview: As the lowest overall seed, the Tigers have the toughest road to the Frozen Four. But getting to the Frozen Four as a bottom seed has happened before (see the last two champions). The Tigers are 2-0 in the first round, including an upset of top-seeded Minnesota State last season. With that being said, they aren’t afraid of taking down one of the top teams. Playmaker Josh Mitchell is tied for seventh nationally in assists.

UMass- Lowell

Record: 24-9-5 (12-6-4 Hockey East, fourth)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2014
Championships: None
Player to watch for: Kevin Boyle (37 GP,  22-8-5, 1.80 GAA, .934 SV%)

Overview: The River Hawks head into their first round match up with Yale possessing one of the best goalies in the nation in Boyle. He’s third in goals-against average and save percentage. The only caveat is that they’ll be staring at the stats leader on the other side of the ice. Their second-ranked defense is why they’re here, as their offense as scored four or more goals four times since a 12-goal weekend in late January against Arizona State. They’ll have a “next goal wins” mindset Saturday against Yale.

Yale

Record: 19-8-4 (14-5-3 ECAC, second)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championship: 2013
Player to watch for: Alex Lyon (30 GP, 19-7-4, 1.59 GAA, .938 SV%)

Overview: What could work in Yale’s favor is they’ve played 31 games this season, far fewer than other teams (North Dakota and St. Cloud State) in the tournament that have played 40. They’ve also had two weeks off after getting upset by Dartmouth in the ECAC tournament. Outside of their two three-game losing streaks this season (which includes a loss to Qunnipiac in each), the Bulldogs have been a solid club. If Lyon can play tall and get past UMass-Lowell, you’d have to think the third time is the charm in trying to beat Qunnipiac. Another note: Yale has allowed 10 goals over its last three games. It took them nine games to allow that many prior to the losses to Quinnipiac and Dartmouth.

Prediction: Qunnipiac over Yale

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