No. 1 – Boston College Eagles
Conference: Hockey East
NCAA Tournament History: 31 appearances, 4 titles (most recent, 2010)
How they got here: Boston College won the Hockey East championship with a 4-1 win over Maine.
Players to watch: Chris Kreider, F, Jr. (21-21-42); Johnny Gaudreau, F, Fr. (19-21-40); Barry Almeida, F, Sr. (22-16-38); Brian Dumoulin, D, Jr. (7-20-27); Tommy Cross, D, Sr. (5-18-23); Parker Milner, G, Jr. (25-5, 1.82, .931)
Briefly: The Eagles are playing better than anyone at this point in the year. They’ve won their last 15 games, and haven’t given up more than two goals since Jan. 21. Add to that the fact that BC is playing just miles away from home and it makes the Eagles the hands-down favorite in this regional.
No. 2 – Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs
NCAA Tournament History: 8 appearances, 1 title (2011)
How they got here: UMD received an at-large bid.
Players to watch: Jack Connolly, F, Sr. (19-39-58); Travis Oleksuk, F, Sr. (21-30-51); J.T. Brown, F, So. (23-23-46); Brady Lamb, D, Sr. (9-21-30); Wade Bergman, D, Jr. (3-15-18); Kenny Reiter, G, Sr. (22-8-6, 2.40, .912)
Briefly: The defending national champs are back for a potential encore, but it won’t come easily. UMD has to stick to the formula that got them the title last year: great special teams play and hot goaltending. A solid penalty kill will be vital, as will stellar play by Reiter.
No. 3 – Maine Black Bears
Conference: Hockey East
NCAA Tournament History: 17 appearances, 2 titles (most recent, 1999)
How they got here: Maine received an at-large bid.
Players to watch: Spencer Abbott, F, Sr. (20-41-61); Joey Diamond, F, Jr. (25-22-47); Brian Flynn, F, Sr. (18-29-47); Will O’Neil, D, Sr. (3-28-31); Ryan Hegarty, D, Sr. (2-12-14); Dan Sullivan, G, So. (22-10-3, 2.54, .910)
Briefly: If the Black Bears are without Hobey finalist Abbott, who was injured in the Hockey East semis, things will be challenging. Even if he’s out of the lineup, Maine can still score with guys like Diamond, Flynn and Matt Mangene leading the charge. The question marks for this team come at defense and between the pipes.
No. 4 – Air Force Falcons
Conference: Atlantic Hockey
NCAA Tournament History: 5 appearances, no titles
How they got here: Air Force won the Atlantic Hockey championship with a 4-0 win over RIT.
Players to watch: Kyle De Laurell, F, Jr. (15-23-38); John Kruse, F, Jr. (16-14-30); Cole Gunner, F, Fr. (8-20-28); Tim Kirby, D, Sr. (12-16-28); Scott Mathis, D, Sr. (7-17-24); Stephen Caple, G, Sr. (13-5-5, 2.16, .911)
Briefly: Having to travel all the way to Massachusetts to play the top-seeded Eagles won’t be simple, but that’s how the Falcons will have to play. Smart, simple play on defense combined with opportunistic scoring is the only way Air Force advances.