BOSTON -- March Madness will take center stage this weekend at the TD Garden as the Hockey East Tournament faces off for the 29th time, featuring a field of the top four seeds for the first time since 2008.
No. 1 UMass-Lowell (24-10-2, 16-9-2) - def. No. 8 Maine, 2-0 in quarterfinals
No. 2 Boston College (22-10-4, 15-9-3) - def. No. 7 Vermont, 2-0
No. 3 Boston University (20-15-2, 15-10-2) - def. No. 6 Merrimack, 2-0
No. 4 Providence (17-13-7, 13-8-6) - def. No. 5 New Hampshire, 2-1
Times: UML will face Providence on Friday, March 22 at 5 p.m. with BC and BU scheduled for an 8 p.m. puck drop. The winners will meet on Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m. with the Lamoriello Trophy on the line.
>> The River Hawks became the first team other than BC, BU, Maine or New Hampshire to earn the Hockey East regular season title with a 4-1 win at Providence on March 9. Lowell posted the series victory in straight games over Maine last Thursday and Friday to advance to the Garden for the 14th time.
>> In its last semifinal appearance in 2009, Lowell earned an exciting 3-2 overtime win over Hockey East Player of the Year Brad Thiessen and Northeastern. Chris Auger scored the winning goal, helping UML to just its second-ever title game appearance (a 1-0 loss to BU).
>> Providence secured its ticket to the Garden for the second straight year by winning their first decisive quarterfinal game at Schneider Arena since 2001. With Sunday’s 3-2 victory, the Friars defeated New Hampshire to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 1995.
>> Friar freshman Nick Saracino earned Player of the Week honors with four goals and an assist in the quarterfinals. He is just one goal away from reaching the top ten in a single Hockey East Tournament. Three different players hold a share of the record (7).
>> Boston College has earned the Lamoriello Trophy in each of the last three years and on 11 occasions all-time. Freshman Johnny Gaudreau, who was just the fourth underclassman named Hockey East Player of the Year in the 29-year conference history, scored two goals and an assist in last weekend's quarterfinals and has posted ten points over his last four games combined.
>> BU was the only two school to have two players selected to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team in forward Danny O'Regan and defender Matt Grzelcyk. O'Regan, a Needham, Mass. native, has posted all of his team-best 36 points in 35 games. He is attempting to become the first freshman to lead BU in scoring since Tony Amonte in 1989-90.
TV: The New England Sports Network will televise all three games with Tom Caron and Craig Janney on the call. Steve Schlanger and Ken Hodge will be on the national call all weekend for NBC Sports Network, but the broadcast is subject to local blackout.
Radio Outlets: Here is the radio line-up for each team this weekend -
BU: NBC Sports Radio 1510 AM - Bernie Corbett (PxP) and Tom Ryan (color)
BU: WTBUSportsRadio.com - Paul Ryan (PxP) and Jashvina Shah (color)
BC: 98.5 The Sports Hub - Ryan Johnston (PxP) and Ken Hodge (color)
UML: 91.5 WUML - Bob Ellis (PxP) and Chaz Scoggins (color)
Providence: Friars.com online only - Mike Logan (PxP) and Chris Fama (color)
Social Media: SB Nation and Western College Hockey will have all the bases covered with myself (Twitter: @JoshuaKummins), Ryan Durling (@Ryan_Durling), and Jeff Cox (@JeffCoxSBNation) all in the press box for the tournament.
To the Victor: The Hockey East champion will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and one of the four regionals (Providence, R.I., Manchester, N.H., Grand Rapids, Mich. and Toledo, Ohio) taking place next weekend. ESPNU will televise the selection show on Sunday night, March 24 at 9:30 p.m.
Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.