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NCAA Hockey: 2015 East Regional Team Capsules

Matt Christians

The East Regional will take place at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island on March 28th and 29th.

Miami highlights the regional as the top seed. Here is a closer look at all four teams that will play in Providence next week:


Bid: NCHC Automatic Bid

Location: Oxford, Ohio

Record: 25-13-1 overall, 14-9-1 NCHC

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Rico Blasi (Miami ‘94)

Captains: Austin Czarnik(C), Blake Coleman(A), Sean Kuraly(A)

Key Players: Austin Czarnik(9-34-43), Riley Barber(20-20-40), Sean Kuraly(18-9-27), Blake Coleman(20-17-37)

Starting Goalie: Jay Williams 19-8-0 1.89 .922

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Riley Barber(18), Sean Kuraly(21), Blake Coleman(43), Austin Czarnik(50), Louie Belpedio(62), Anthony Louis(90)

Story of the Season: One year after a tremendously disappointing season that resulted in a last place finish in the NCHC, Miami finally looked like the team everyone expected them to be. Though they came up a bit short in their quest for an NCHC regular season title, they did stay near the top of the national rankings all year and are coming into the NCAA Tournament hot after winning the NCHC Frozen Face Off

What to Expect: It’s all about speed for Miami. Miami’s top lines are filled with some real speed burners including Austin Czarnik and Anthony Louis, who are two of the fastest players in college hockey. That makes them deadly on the counteract when they force turnovers.  The defense is small, but again, extremely quick and mobile which allows them to move the puck up the ice effectively.

#2 Denver

Bid: At-large

Location: Denver, Colorado

Record: 23-13-2 overall, 13-10-1 NCHC

Past NCAA Championships: 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005

Head Coach: Jim Montgomery (Maine ‘93)

Captains: Grant Arnold(C), Josiah Didier(A), Daniel Doremus(A), Joey LaLeggia(A)

Key Players: Joey LaLeggia(13-25-38), Trevor Moore(21-21-42), Danton Heinen(16-29-45)

Starting Goalie: Tanner Jaillet/Evan Cowley 14-7-0/9-6-2, 2.38/2.16 .917/.924

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Danton Heinen(26), Evan Cowley(29), Joey LaLeggia(42)

Story of the Season:

Denver is a program that just keeps chugging along, reaching the 20-win mark for the 14th consecutive season. The second year behind the bench for head coach Jim Montgomery was much smoother than last year, when the Pioneers needed to win the NCHC conference tournament to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. This year, the Pioneers returned all their forwards from last year’s team and added one of the nation’s best freshmen in Danton Heinen. They were solid all year, despite not drawing a ton of national attention.

What to Expect:

The Pioneers have one of the most offensively-active blue lines in college hockey led by senior Hobey Baker finalist Joey LaLeggia and junior Nolan Zajac. They’re dangerous scoring threats, but that is evened out a bit by being softer than most in their own zone. They also have a very dynamic, and underrated first line led by small playmaker Trevor Moore and Heinen, who is skilled and crafty. Beyond that, they rely on big, strong forwards that play a responsible two-way game.

The Pioneers have a true two-goalie platoon with freshman Tanner Jaillet and sophomore Evan Cowley usually splitting a weekend, even through the playoffs.

#3 Boston College

Bid: At-Large

Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Record: 21-13-3 overall, 12-7-3 Hockey East

Past NCAA Championships: 1949, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012

Head Coach: Jerry York (Boston College ‘67)

Captains: Michael Matheson(C), Michael Sit(A), Quinn Smith(A)

Key Players: Alex Tuch(14-14-28), Noah Hanifin(5-18-23), Michael Matheson (2-21-23), Ian McCoshen(6-10-16)

Starting Goalie: Thatcher Demko 19-12-3 2.14 .927

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Noah Hanifin(2), Alex Tuch(4), Michael Matheson(6), Thatcher Demko(13), Steve Santini(15), Ian McCoshen(17), Adam Gilmour(88), Chris Calnan(92), Zach Sanford(94), Ryan Fitzgerald(100)

Story of the Season: The Eagles came on strong at the midway point in the season after recovering from early season injuries and the freshmen and sophomores becoming more comfortable with their roles. Despite the ouster in the Hockey East quarterfinals for a second straight season, it is hard to not think BC will be a very tough out in a single elimination NCAA Tournament.

What to Expect: There is no better defenseman in college hockey than BC freshman Noah Hanifin, a mere lock to be selected No. 3 overall in this summer's NHL Draft behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Add Michael Matheson, Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen, three players already taken in the first or second rounds of previous NHL Drafts and you have one of the best blue lines on paper.

#4 Providence

Bid: At-large

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Record: 22-13-2, 13-8-1 Hockey East

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Nate Leaman (SUNY Cortland ‘97)

Captains: Ross Mauerman(C), Noel Acciari(C)

Key Players: Nick Saracino(13-20-33), Ross Mauerman(11-13-24), Mark Jankowski(6-17-23)

Starting Goalie: Jon Gillies 20-13-2 1.95 .931

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Jon Gillies(11), John Gilmour(44), Tom Parisi(68), Anthony Florentino(71), Jake Walman(73), Nick Saracino(78)

Story of the Season: The Friars backed their way into the NCAA Tournament after getting bounced by New Hampshire in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, but there might not be a more dangerous team in the lower half of the seedings than Nate Leaman's club.

What to Expect: Junior goaltender Jon Gillies has the ability to be a game changer between the pipes. The Calgary Flames prospect has a 1.95 goals against average and .931 save percentage. His big, athletic frame allows him to cover a lot of ground in net and make some key saves.

Providence's offense was inconsistent during the regular season, but has enough weapons to be problematic for opposing teams if it is clicking on all cylinders. The defense skates well and does a good job pushing the puck up ice and starting the breakout.

Vancouver Canucks draft pick Thatcher Demko is a very athletic and technically sound, composed goaltender who should be a key component in any success BC enjoys in the national tournament.

The biggest question mark is up front where there is no shortage of touted prospects, but consistency has been an issue. Alex Tuch, Zach Sanford and Adam Gilmour are three of the better power forwards in the nation when they're playing their best. Don't be surprised to see Bruins pick Ryan Fitzgerald come through in the clutch.