The women’s Hockey East tournament gets under way Friday with four quarterfinal rounds hosted by the higher seeds. The semifinals and finals are March 9 and 10 at Schneider Arena in Providence.
Northeastern vs. Vermont
The top-seeded Huskies (23-5-5, 21-3-3) were the conference’s regular-season champions for the second time in program history, after winning the title in 2018. They host No. 8 Vermont (10-18-6, 8-15-4) in only the second matchup between these teams in the playoffs. The odds are squarely with the Huskies, ranked No. 3 in the nation. Northeastern is 3-0 against the Catamounts, who reached the conference playoffs on the final day of the season with a 2-2 tie at Maine.
Boston College vs. UConn
BC is the No. 2 seed and will host No. 7 UConn. UConn (14-16-4, 9-14-4) defeated BC, 4-2, in the 2018 semifinals but the Eagles (23-10-1, 19-7-1) swept their three-game series this season, with freshman Maddy McArthur making a total of 52 saves in three shutouts. Kazmaier top-10 finalist and Olympian Megan Keller, a senior who is the top-scoring defenseman in the country, leads BC’s scoring (18-23–41), followed by last year’s Kazmaier winner, sophomore forward Daryl Watts (19-20–39). The Eagles have a stacked roster and boast a No. 6 national ranking, but those 10 losses weigh them down.
Boston University vs. UNH
Third-seeded BU (19-7-8, 15-6-6) hosts No. 6 New Hampshire (13-15-6, 10-14-3) buoyed by the Terriers’ first Beanpot championship as a varsity squad, no small thing after trying for 38 years. The eighth-ranked Terriers are coming in hot, 11-1-3 in their last 15 games. This season they have a 2-0-1 mark against UNH, which has not reached the conference semifinals since 2010. The Terriers, too, have a top-10 Kazmaier finalist in sophomore Jesse Compher, BU’s leading scorer at 17-38–55. She is third in the nation in points and second in assists.
Providence vs. Merrimack
Fourth-seeded Providence (22-10-2, 16-9-2) will host No. 5 Merrimack (16-11-7,12-10-5), the first time these teams have met in the playoffs. Providence posted a 2-0-1 record against Merrimack this season. The Friars got a late confidence booster, picking up wins over Northeastern and BU in its last three games of the regular season. Sophomore Maureen Murphy has paced the offense with 21 goals and 41 points. Merrimack has just one other postseason appearance, in 2017.Barbara Matson can be reached at email@example.com