Verizon Wireless Arena (Manchester, NH)
Wisconsin finished tied with Denver in the WCHA, and with a better overall record than the Pioneers, but the vagaries of the Pairwise make the Badgers a 4 seed and the Pioneers a 2. Wisconsin struggled through a very slow start and were winless through October and November, excepting a lone 2-0 victory at Minnesota. But they put together a North Dakota-like late season and are now on a 6-game winning streak that included the WCHA championship. Junior Michael Mersch is by far the leader in goals, with a 23-13--36 line, with fellow junior Tyler Barnes trailing at 15-15--30. No other Badger has more than 10. Mark Zengerle is the assists leader (9-23--32) and super-frosh Nick Kerdiles is the assists leader at 10-22--32. Sophomores Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson have been splitting time in net, but Rumpel has been the go-to guy down the stretch with a 1.85 GAA on a .933 SV%.
Denver started strong, but had a rough patch of an 8-game winless streak in late November/early December. The Pioneers have been more up than down after that, but still lost in the first round of the WCHA playoffs to Colorado College. If anything, they'll be well-rested, having not played since March 17. Six different Pioneers have more than ten goals, and the leader in that category is senior Shawn Ostrow (15-11--26), while junior Nick Shore is the points and assists leader (14-19--33). Sophomore goalie Juho Olkinuora is the main netminder, with a 2.28 GAA and 0.929 SV%.
New Hampshire finished tied for third in Hockey East and lost a hard-fought three-game series to Providence in the Hockey East quarterfinals. Still, they're hosting in Manchester, so to Manchester they go. Kevin Goumas (10-32--42) has a pile of points, with defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (8-25--33) not that far behind. Three different UNH players have 15 goals -- Grayson Downing, John Henrion, and Austin Block. Casey DeSmith (2.24 GAA/0.924 SV%) handles the tools of ignorance.
UMass-Lowell had the most extraordinary season in team history this year, capturing both the Hockey East regular season title and the tournament crown as well. The first couple of months of the year weren't anything special, but the River Hawks were very strong down the stretch. The only caveat on their season is that they were 1-2 against BC, and didn't have to face the Eagles in the Hockey East tournament. Five different Lowell players are at 10+ goals, and 11 have 10 or more assists, so the scoring is pretty balanced. Riley Wetmore (15-11--26) and Scott Wilson (15-19--34) are your goal leaders and Joseph Pendenza (13-23--36) is your points leader. Freshman Connor Hellebuyck (1.39 GAA/0.949 SV%) and junior Doug Carr (2.79 GAA/0.897 SV%) have seen a nearly equal amount of game action, but Hellebuyck is almost certainly the guy for the tournament.