The East Region of the 2012 NCAA hockey tournament lacks the recognition that its brother regions have. Sure, three of the four teams have Hobey Baker nominees, but Michigan State easily has the biggest fanbase -- and they're the fourth seed playing hundreds of miles away from East Lansing.
Miami and Massachusetts-Lowell aren't exactly the biggest schools in the world, and the same can be said for Union, who have flown under the radar even in devout college hockey circles this season despite how well they've played.
No. 2 Miami RedHawks (24-12-2) vs. No. 3 UMass-Lowell River Hawks (23-14-1)
Friday March 23, 6:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPNU
The regional final is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 24.
All games at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Union received an automatic bid as the ECAC tournament champion. Miami received an at-large bid after finishing fourth in the CCHA regular season. Massachusetts-Lowell was upset in the first round of the Hockey East tournament by Providence but received an at-large bid after ending the regular season tied for second with Boston University. Michigan State finished fifth in the CCHA and earned an at-large bid despite being swept by Miami in the conference tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Union: No. 27, F Jeremy Welsh; No. 19, F Kelly Zajac; No. 1, G Troy Grosenick; No. 22, Mat Bodie
- Miami: No. 18, F Reilly Smith (Dallas); No. 4, D Will Weber (Columbus Blue Jackets); No. 7, F Austin Czarnik; No. 31, G Connor Knapp (Buffalo Sabres)
- Massachusetts-Lowell: No. 23, F Scott Wilson (Pittsburgh Penguins); No. 29, F Derek Arnold; No. 16, F Riley Wetmore; No. 31, G Doug Carr
- Michigan State: No. 44, D Torey Krug; No. 11, F Brett Perlini (Anaheim Ducks); No. 22, F Lee Reimer; No. 27, F Matt Berry
- Union College hopes to bring ECAC Hockey it's first national title since 1989.
- Michigan State has taken the back roads to the NCAA Tournament.
- Miami hopes to put their CCHA Tournament loss in the rearview mirror.
- UMass-Lowell faces a tough first round matchup vs. the RedHawks.
For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.