The Hockey East tournament will be an all-inclusive affair this season.
In years past, only the top eight teams in the 10-team conference qualified for postseason play. But with the addition of Notre Dame this season as the conference’s 11th member, Hockey East has altered its tournament structure to give all member schools a shot at the crown.
That expansion has led to the creation of a new, single-elimination opening round, which begins this weekend at campus sites and pits the six lowest seeds against one another. (The first-round matchup between No. 10 Massachusetts and No. 7 Vermont will air live Friday night on NESN.)
The top five regular-season finishers receive a bye into the quarterfinals, which retain the same best-of-three format from previous tournaments. One quarterfinal matchup — No. 5 Northeastern vs. No. 4 New Hampshire — is already set. The opponents for the three top seeds — No. 1 Boston College, No. 2 UMass Lowell and No. 3 Providence — will be determined after the completion of the opening-round games.
The tournament will again culminate at TD Garden, with the semifinals scheduled for Friday, March 21, and the final taking place the following night.
Check out the full tournament schedule below.
First Round — Single Elimination (Campus sites; March 7-8)
(10) Massachusetts at (7) Vermont — Friday, 7:05 p.m.
(9) Boston University at (8) Notre Dame — Saturday, 7 p.m.
(11) Merrimack at (6) Maine — Saturday, 7:07 p.m.
Quarterfinal Round — Best-of-Three (Campus sites; March 14-16)
Lowest remaining seed at (1) Boston College
Second-lowest remaining seed at (2) UMass Lowell
Highest remaining seed from 6-11 at (3) Providence
(5) Northeastern at (4) New Hampshire
Championship Round — Single Elimination (TD Garden; March 21-22)
Semifinals on Friday, March 21, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Final on Saturday, March 22, at 7 p.m.
Photo via Twitter/@BCHockeyNews