East Regional Preview | Albany, N.Y.
Murphy and Harvard won the ECACHL playoff title in
Albany last weekend. They'd like to leave town with
two wins once again.
Tournament Bracket | Info
Regional Preview Coverage
Saturday, March 25
Noon ET: No. 1 Michigan State vs. No.
4 New Hampshire
3 p.m. ET: No. 2 Harvard vs. No. 3 Maine
Sunday, March 26
2 p.m. ET: Regional Final
By Joe Gladziszewski
We're supposed to get your attention and maybe
even shock you in the lead of the story.
New Hampshire won the East Regional.
Maine won the East Regional.
Harvard won the East Regional.
Didn't work, did it?
Michigan State won the CCHA Tournament, enters
this weekend as the top seed in this regional, and is the
favorite to advance to the Frozen Four. If any of the other
teams win it wouldn't be all that surprising, because they've
all got something going for them that makes them tough to
For second-seeded Harvard, it's momentum.
The Crimson are scoring a ton of goals (see below) and won
the ECAC Hockey League championship last weekend in this
Maine brings some of the best special teams
play in the nation and stingy goaltending from Ben Bishop.
The Black Bears found their stride in the second half of
the Hockey East season and finished second in the league.
New Hampshire played with confidence at the
end of the season and features a dynamic group of skilled
forwards. They're dangerous enough to give Michigan State
fits in the opening round.
There's a mixed bag of tournament history
among these four teams. Ancient history is more kind than
recent history and it starts with the Spartans. Perhaps
things are aligned for the Green and White as the program's
two national championships were won in 1966 and 1986. A
20-year plan suits this current group quite nicely.
Maine won championships in 1993 and 1999 and
Harvard won the title in 1989. They staged an absolute classic
in this rink in this round of the tournament in 2004. The
Crimson held a 4-1 lead entering the third period before
the Black Bears scored four times in the final 20 minutes
to win the game.
UNH is making its 26th appearance in
this tournament and has never won it. Last week's tournament
experience wasn't good either. They were smoked 9-2 by Boston
University in the Hockey East semifinals and will need to
re-build their confidence for this weekend.
Albany has been a popular destination
for regionals and Frozen Fours and fans traveling
with these teams might even have some favorite spots
to visit on Pearl Street near the Pepsi Arena. Harvard
was there last week, Maine was at a regional in 2004,
and Michigan State was at the Frozen Four in 2001.
Our experience has shown that Jillian's is very accommodating
in showing hockey games being played in other regions.
It is also the host site for Maine's pre-game parties
on the third floor before Saturday's game and Sunday
After hockey, we prefer the Bayou Café
which features a laid-back bar atmosphere on one side
and live music and dancing on the other. There's enough
space in between so that the music won't distract
those seeking a quieter night.
ON A ROLL
Playoff time is when the defenses tighten
up; officials allow defenders more latitude in holding and
hooking; and goaltenders step up to shut down the other
teams. Harvard might believe that, but they haven't played
like it. The Crimson averaged just 2.8 goals per game in
29 regular-season games but have scored 28 goals in five
playoff games, doubling their average at 5.6 goals per game.
Harvard scored eight goals in a series-clinching win over
St. Lawrence, 10 against Dartmouth in the league semifinals,
and six against Cornell in the final. Harvard's power play
was 9-for-22 in the last three games, converting at a better
than 40 percent rate. They'll need that to continue against
Maine, the best penalty-killing team in the country.
Maine's Greg Moore is the team's leading scorer
and he leads them at important times. Four of his team-leading
26 goals are game-winners and 12 of his goals have come
on the power play. He had seven points over the course of
three playoff games, but was held off the scoresheet in
a Hockey East semifinal loss to Boston College. Moore is
team captain, a First Team Hockey East selection, and was
a semifinalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
SOMETHING TO PROVE
We already mentioned Michigan State's 20-year
anniversaries. They're not so crazy about the recent past.
The Spartans have failed to score in their last three NCAA
Tournament games. They were shut out 5-0 by Minnesota Duluth
in 2004, 2-0 by Colorado College in 2002, and 2-0 by North
Dakota in 2001. At least they're not playing against a WCHA
opponent this time.
ONE TO WATCH
Keep an eye on UNH forward Jacob Micflikier.
You know that Michigan State will be. He had both Wildcat
goals in the loss to Boston University last weekend and
carries a five-game goal-scoring streak into Saturday's
early semifinal. He's red-hot right now and of all the players
at this regional, he's probably the guy most likely to put
up four points in a single game.
We've established that it won't be a surprise
no matter who meets on Sunday afternoon. These are proud
programs that expect to make noise in the NCAA Tournament,
not just within their conferences. A Frozen Four appearance
by any of them puts them right back into the national spotlight
and they'll claim bragging rights against rival schools
such as Michigan, Cornell, Boston University and Boston