For college hockey fans in the greater Boston area, this weekend turned out to be the worst-case scenario in that all three Hockey East single-elimination playoff games are significant distances away. The five teams that earned byes will be watching to see how these three contests affect them with regard to next week’s best-of-three league quarterfinals.
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.: No. 10 UMASS-AMHERST (8-21-4, 4-13-3) at No. 7 VERMONT (18-12-3, 10-10-0)
The Catamounts won three of their last four contests down the stretch, including a split with UMass-Lowell during the regular-season’s weekend finale. In two meetings against the Minutemen, Vermont swept Nov. 22 and Nov. 24 . . . The Minutemen have struggled the last several weeks with just one victory in their last eight games (1-6-1) . . . Senior forward Conor Sheary leads the team in scoring with 27 points, nine of them goals, in 33 games . . . Junior goaltender Steve Mastalerz has a 2.80 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 30 outings . . . UMass has the second best power play in Hockey East with a 22.3 percent success rate (33 of 148) . . . For the Catamounts, senior forward Chris McCarthy has a team-high 40 points, 16 of them goals, in 33 games . . . The team has been very good in the third period, scoring 40 goals while surrendering just 24.
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.: No. 9 BOSTON UNIVERSITY (10-20-4, 5-12-3) at No. 8 NOTRE DAME (20-12-2, 9-9-2)
The Terriers are coming off a stunning weekend sweep of Northeastern. A young team that has been shortstaffed during the season, BU is playing pretty solid hockey heading to South Bend . . . The bad news is BU failed to score against the Fighting Irish when the teams met Feb. 21-22. Both shutouts were 2-0. Notre Dame is a formidable opponent. The Irish beat then-No. 1 ranked Boston College in overtime in the regular-season finale last Saturday . . . The Fighting Irish put together a defensive masterpiece and played a close-to-perfect road game. BU is going to have to do that to win Saturday . . . Freshman Robbie Baillargeon leads the Terriers in scoring with 25 points in 34 games . . . Senior forward T.J. Tynan leads the Fighting Irish with 31 points in 34 outings. Senior goaltender Steven Summerhays has been tough to beat. He has a 1.87 goals-against average and .929 save percentage and a nation-best seven shutouts.
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.: No. 11 MERRIMACK (8-21-3, 3-15-2) at No. 6 MAINE (15-13-4, 9-8-3)
It has been a very challenging season for the Warriors. They are last in the league in scoring with just 62 goals in 32 games (an average of 1.94 goals) and ninth in scoring defense, allowing 95 goals . . . Their special teams have struggled all season. They are 11th in penalty killing (80.8 percent) and 10th on the power play (14.5 percent) . . . The Black Bears swept the season series against Merrimack at Lawler Arena Feb. 14-15 . . . But they stumbled during the final two weekends of the season. They salvaged a point out of a two-game series at Northeastern. The next weekend against Providence at Alfond Arena, the Black Bears lost both games . . . Sophomore Devin Shore leads Maine in scoring with 40 points in 32 games. Sophomore defenseman Ben Hutton is second with 26 points . . . Maine averages 3.03 goals per game, fourth in the league. Defensively, the Black Bears allow an average of 2.38 goals, which is sixth in the league . . . Senior Martin Ouellette has handled the bulk of the goaltending duties, with a 14-13-4 record and a 2.29 GAA in 31 games . . . Mike Collins (12 goals, 25 points) is Merrimack’s leading scorer and Rasmus Tirronen (.904 save percentage) has handled the bulk of the netminding duties.