|NCAA EAST REGIONAL | WEBSTER BANK ARENA AT HARBOR YARD | BRIDGEPORT, CONN.
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, MARCH 23-24
All times EDT
Friday: Union vs. Michigan State, 3 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Friday: Miami vs. UMass Lowell, 6:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Saturday: Regional Final, 6:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
All games available live via www.watchespn.com.
The answer each team needs to find in order to advance to the Frozen Four
Union: This team’s national profile has steadily increased for three straight years, can it put an exclamation point on its growth on the nation’s biggest stage?
Miami: How much does experience mean to the “old guys” in this regional with three straight tournament appearances including two Frozen Fours?
UMass Lowell: Strong goaltending and balanced scoring carried the River Hawks through a great regular season, but how will Lowell stand up to the added pressures of NCAA Tournament play?
Michigan State: The Spartans sprinkled some big wins into their season, but most of the time fell short in games against elite teams. Can they put back-to-back solid efforts together against some of the nation’s best?
|ONE TO WATCH|
Not necessarily the best player on each team, but his contributions will go a long way toward determining his team’s fortunes.
Union: D Mat Bodie
Miami: F Trent Vogelhuber
UMass Lowell: F David Vallorani
Michigan State: D A.J. Sturges
|THE STAFF SAYS …|
INCH writers weigh in with their prediction for the East Regional with comments on their picks.
Mike Eidelbes, managing editor: Union over Miami
So Union plays in ECAC Hockey. Big deal. The Dutchmen have been as consistent as any team in college hockey from Day One and, more importantly, are the deepest team in this region. Miami’s experience will be a factor against Union—it’ll be enough to get them past UMass Lowell—but the Dutch have been building for this moment and prevail. The Troy Grosenick-Connor Knapp goaltending duel will be a huge key.
Joe Gladziszewski, editor and ECAC Hockey senior writer: Union over Miami
I’m a believer in recent tournament experience meaning something, and Union proved last week in the ECAC Hockey championship weekend that it learned from its postseason losses of 2011. This team has the right ingredients – strong goaltending, a dominant top line, and a killer power play. The fact that Michigan State and Lowell haven’t been there recently will hurt them in first-round games when things get tight.
James V. Dowd, CCHA senior writer: Miami over Union
Union has been remarkably consistent from the get-go this season and Miami has had an up-and-down kind of year, but the Redhawks’ physicality could present real problems for an undersized Union team. Miami’s veteran defense and goaltending will bounce back from a semifinal lapse in Detroit to propel the senior class to its third Frozen Four.
Ken McMillan, Atlantic Hockey senior writer: Union over Miami
There’s something to be said for showing improvement three years running, and Union is primed to get over the top and reach the Frozen Four. Miami’s experience in the NCAA tourney will go a long way in knocking off UMass Lowell in the semis. Expect a low-scoring final in a matchup of the nation’s top two defenses with the edge going to the Dutchmen.
Kevin Zeise, Hockey East senior writer: Miami over Union
Miami feels to me like the more battle-tested team after going 4-3 against teams in the NCAA field over the past two months. Union, by contrast, had a loss and a tie against Cornell, the only opponent over the past two months to make the field of 16. Factor in a first-year coach against one with two Frozen Four appearances in the last four years, and the RedHawks get the edge here.