Hockey East Weekend Preview
The Hockey East playoffs open this weekend, including #5 seed Providence hosting #12 Massachusetts

No. 12 Massachusetts vs. No. 5 Providence – Fri. 3/3, Sat. 3/4, Sun. 3/5 (if necessary) at PC

- The Minutemen come in to the first round of the Hockey East Tournament as the number 12 seed after dropping four points to Providence last weekend. UMass fell to the Friars, 6-2, before forcing Saturday night's game into overtime, where they eventually dropped a 2-1 decision. In last year's tournament, the Minutemen bowed out in the first round after two hard-fought onegoal games at Boston University.

- UMass senior captain and leading point-getter Steven Iacobellis (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) has posted 21 points this season on eight goals and 13 assists.

-• Providence plays host to UMass in the best-of-three series after winning both games of last weekend's home-and-home with the Minutemen. The Friars put up six goals on Friday night to take two points while on the road and then got two goals from Garret Gamez (Chino Hills, Calif.) on Saturday night, including the overtime goal, to close out the regular season with a win and end the year on a 12-2-1 run.

No. 11 Maine vs. No. 6 Vermont – Fri. 3/3, Sat. 3/4, Sun. 3/5 (if necessary) at UVM

- Maine travels to Vermont for the second time this season to take on the Catamounts in the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament. During the regular season, the Black Bears fell in the first game of the series, 6-2, before bouncing back to take one point on the road in a 2-2 tie.

- Junior Nolan Vesey (North Reading, Mass.) earned Hockey East Player of the Week honors for the final week of the regular season after a four-goal weekend against Northeastern. The forward tallied one goal in Friday night's loss and then posted a hat trick, including the eventual game winner, in Saturday night's 5-4 win.

- The Catamounts turn to rookie goaltender Stefanos Lekkas (Elburn, Ill.) to help them advance to their third straight quarterfinal appearance in the current tournament format. In league play, the freshman has posted a 2.60 goals against average and .907 save percentage.

- Up front, Vermont freshman Ross Colton (Robbinsville, N.J./11g, 15a) and senior captain Mario Puskarich (Fort Walton Beach, Fla./12g, 12a) have combined for 50 points this season and are first and second on the team in overall scoring.

No.10 New Hampshire vs. No. 7 Merrimack – Fri. 3/3, Sat. 3/4, Sun. 3/5 (if necessary) at MC

- New Hampshire took three points from Merrimack during the regular season and will look to move past the Warriors this weekend and into the quarterfinal round of the Hockey East Tournament as the programs clash in the opening round for the second straight season. Last year, Merrimack moved on after taking a three-game series over the Wildcats.

- UNH freshman Patrick Grasso (Ankeny, Iowa) recorded six points against the Warriors in the regular season. He found the back of the net four times in their first meeting, and then went on to add two assists in the next.

- Tied for first in the nation in points, Wildcats senior Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) has netted 22 goals and dished out 37 helpers on the season.

- Merrimack defeated New Hampshire in three games to move on to the quarterfinal round in the 2016 Hockey East Tournament. The Warriors have seen solid play from netminder Collin Delia (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) over the final two months of the season as he leads Hockey East in goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.936) since the calendar flipped to 2017. The junior turned away 61 shots in the last two games of the regular season and is 7-3-3 in his last 13 outings.

- Brett Seney (London, Ont.) leads Merrimack in points for the third straight season entering this weekend's opening round of play. The forward has recorded over 25 points in each of his three seasons in the blue and gold, including 29 this year in his junior campaign.

No. 9 UConn vs. No. 8 Northeastern – Fri. 3/3, Sat. 3/4, Sun. 3/5 (if necessary) at NU

- UConn travels to Northeastern for the first round of tournament play, where the newest member of Hockey East seeks to advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Mike Cavanaugh's squad is coming into the weekend after sweeping New Hampshire in a home and home series in the last weekend of regular season play to earn the ninth seed.

- Sophomores Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) and Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) lead the offense for the UConn Huskies in their sophomore campaigns. The two have combined for 59 of UConn's points on the season, with Thompson leading the charge with a 19- 13--32 stat line and Letunov following close behind with 2-20--27.

- Reigning Hockey East Tournament Champion Northeastern comes into the playoffs with its top line of Zach Aston-Reese (Staten Island, N.Y.), Nolan Stevens (Sea Isle City, N.J.) and John Stevens (Sea Isle City, N.J.) healthy and clicking once again. Aston-Reese enters the weekend leading the nation in goals (29) and points (30). The senior's 29-30--59 stat line is tied with UNH's Kelleher for most points in the NCAA.

- The Huskies have two other 50-plus point getters on the season in junior Dylan Sikura (Aurora, Ont.) and sophomore Adam Gaudette (Braintree, Mass.). Sikura has notched 53 points (20g, 33a) on the season and Gaudette is close behind him with 51 (25g, 26a), giving Northeastern the first-, fifth- and six-most prolific scorers in the country this season.