UMass-Lowell Claims Top Seed, Hockey East Tournament Field Set After Wild Final Weekend

UMass LowellAfter one final day of frantic seed shuffling, the Hockey East tournament pairings have finally been set.

The River Hawks of UMass-Lowell were the big winners on Saturday, clinching the first regular-season conference title in school history with a 4-1 win over Providence. As the No. 1 seed, they’ll host eighth-seeded Maine at Tsongas Arena when the quarterfinal series open up this Thursday.

In a day ruled by blowouts, Maine concluded the only highly contested series of the weekend, following up a 4-3 win over UNH on Friday with a 4-4 tie in Saturday’s matinee. Home-ice advantage was thought to be all but sewn up for the Wildcats entering the final two contests of the regular season, but the one-point showing against the rival Black Bears dropped them all the way to fifth in the conference. They’ll hit the road in the first round against the Friars, whose fourth-place finish is the best mark by a Providence team since 2002-03.

A 5-0 rout of Northeastern brought Boston University into a three-way tie with UNH and PC, with the Terriers earning the No. 3 seed by virtue of the tiebreaker. BU will host a struggling Merrimack squad that limps into the playoffs after dropping five of its final six games, including a 3-0 decision to UMass on Saturday.

In the final opening-round series, No. 2 Boston College will host No. 7 Vermont. The Eagles have had UVM’s number this season, outscoring the Catamounts 15-7 to take the season series 2-0-1. BC also owns the top scoring offense in Hockey East, averaging 3.26 goals per conference game, and hung a touchdown on Vermont in a 7-2 victory Saturday night.

The quarterfinal round will feature four best-of-3 series, with the top four seeds hosting each game. The winners of each will advance to the one-game semifinal round at TD Garden. Both semifinals will take place Friday, March 22, with the finals scheduled for the following day.

Photo via Facebook/UMass Lowell River Hawks