Just a day after the Yale men’s basketball team was eliminated from March Madness, the Bulldogs’ counterparts on the ice have been given their own chance to go dancing.
The No. 10 Yale men’s hockey team (19–8–4, 14–5–3 ECAC Hockey) was named the third seed of the East Regional in the NCAA Tournament and will play second-seeded and overall No. 8 UMass Lowell (24–9–5, 12–6–4 Hockey East) in Albany at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.
That matchup at the Times Union Center will follow a 4 p.m. showdown between No. 1 Quinnipiac and No. 36 Rochester, the regional’s first and fourth seeds and the top and bottom seeds of the entire tournament. The winners of the two games will meet on Sunday night with a spot in the Frozen Four on the line.
If the Bobcats wins their first contest, the road to a national championship for Yale will go through both UMass Lowell and Quinnipiac — just as it did in 2013, when the Bulldogs defeated the River Hawks 3–2 in overtime during the Frozen Four semifinal before beating the Bobcats 4–0 in the final. That tournament marked the last meeting between Yale and Lowell, but since then, Yale has gone 0–5–3 against Quinnipiac.
Yale’s place in this year’s tournament, once a virtual certainty, was in serious jeopardy as late as this past Saturday night. Dartmouth’s sweep of the Elis in the ECAC quarterfinals and No. 13 Northeastern’s run to the Hockey East tournament championship left the team needing some help to ensure a berth in the 16-team field.
But a victory by No. 7 Michigan over Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament final clinched the Bulldogs’ third trip to the tournament in four years, and No. 2 St. Cloud State’s win against No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth in the NCHC tournament final locked in a number-three seed — that is, a PairWise Ranking finish between 9 and 12 — for Yale.
The Elis will arrive in Albany on a three-game losing streak, though the most recent of those defeats saw Yale outshoot the Big Green by 32 in the 2–1 elimination loss.
On the opposite side of the ice from the Bulldogs will be a team that comes into the tournament with some momentum of its own. In the Hockey East playoff, Lowell swept No. 9 Boston University in two quarterfinal games and knocked off No. 4 Providence in triple overtime before running out of gas against the red-hot Northeastern Huskies in the final.
In addition to Quinnipiac and Yale, one other ECAC team — Harvard — earned a spot in the NCAA field. The No. 11 Crimson, the third seed in the Northeast Regional, will play second-seeded and overall No. 5 Boston College in Worcester, Massachusetts on Friday.
The puck is scheduled to drop in Albany at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.