Hockey East Opening Round Playoff Preview
Defending Hockey East Tournament champion #7 UMass Lowell welcomes #10 Merrimack in the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament.

No. 10 Merrimack vs. No. 7 UMass Lowell - Fri. 3/2, Sat. 3/3, Sun. 3/4 (if necessary) at UML

- Defending Hockey East Tournament champion #7 UMass Lowell welcomes #10 Merrimack in the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament, marking the first time the River Hawks have competed in the first round of the tournament. The two teams met just last weekend in a home and home series to close out the regular season. The Warriors took the first game of the series with a 4-1 win in North Andover, before dropping a 5-0 decision on the road in Lowell.

- Merrimack goaltender Craig Pantano (Bridgewater, Mass.) turned away 28 of the River Hawks' attempts while the Warriors' leading scorer Brett Seney (London, Ont.) found the back of the net twice on Friday night to help secure the victory for Merrimack. This season marks Seney's fourthstraight year having recorded over 25 points and his fourth year leading the Warriors in points.

- The River Hawks have appeared in each of the last five Hockey East Tournament Championship games, holding a 3-2 record in that span. The last four tournament MVPs have also donned the red, white and blue.

- UMass Lowell has clashed with Merrimack in the postseason just once before, sweeping a best of three quarterfinal series over the Warriors in 1994. In that series, current UML head coach Norm Bazin recorded a hat trick.

- Sophomore forward Ryan Lohin (Chadds Ford, Penn./9g, 16a) and junior forward Ryan Dmowski (East Lyme, Conn./11g, 11a) have combined for 47 points this season, while four other players have each posted 20 points for the River Hawks.

No. 11 New Hampshire vs. No. 6 Maine - Fri. 3/2, Sat. 3/3, Sun. 3/4 (if necessary) at Maine

- New Hampshire enters the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament as the number 11 seed after dropping four points to Northeastern in the final weekend of regular season play. New Hampshire had not finished last in the Hockey East standings since the 1987-88 season.

- In last year's tournament, the Wildcats defeated Merrimack in the only opening round series that was forced to three games, before falling in three during the quarterfinal round to eventual tournament champion, UMass Lowell.

- The Wildcats and Black Bears have played each other just six times in the Hockey East Tournament, most recently in 2002. All-time, Maine boasts a 5-1-0 mark over their southern rivals.

- Senior forward Michael McNicholas (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) has tallied 24 points on five goals and 19 assists in 34 appearances for New Hampshire this season.

- Maine comes into the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament as the number six seed and will play host to New Hampshire in the best-of-three series at Alfond Arena. This season, the Black Bears hold a 1-0-2 record over the Wildcats.

- Maine has not advanced into the quarterfinals since the 2014 tournament and looks to return to the semifinals at TD Garden for the first time since 2012. The Black Bears' sixth-place finish is also their highest since 2013-14.

- The Black Bears will look to bounce back after dropping four points over the weekend on the road at Boston College. Ten different players recorded points in the efforts, including leading point-getter Mitchell Fossier (Alpharetta, Ga.), who dished out two helpers to up his point total on the season to 30 (11g, 19a).

No. 9 Vermont vs. No. 8 Massachusetts - Thu. 3/1, Fri. 3/2, Sun. 3/4 (if necessary) at UMass

- Vermont travels to Amherst for the first time this season to take on the Massachusetts Minutemen in the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament. The Catamounts have participated in every opening round since the new tournament format was implemented and will look to advance to the quarterfinals for the fifth year in a row.

- Massachusetts is hosting a postseason round for the first time since the 2007 tournament

- Ross Colton (Robbinsville, N.J.) will look to lead the offensive charge up front for Vermont after posting at 15-6--21 stat line during the regular season. The sophomore has now tallied 20 or more points in each of his first two seasons in the green and gold.

- This weekend marks the first time that UMass will host a postseason game in over 10 years. The Minutemen hold a 1-0-1 record over Vermont on the season and will welcome them to the Mullins Center for the first time since November 12, 2016. The Catamounts are 1-0-0 against Massachusetts all-time in the postseason.

- The Minutemen will look to goaltender Matt Murray (St. Albert, Alta.) to help advance to the quarterfinal round. The rookie posted a 4-1-1 record in the final six games of the regular season and garnered Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honors for the last week before heading into tournament play.