NCAA Hockey Tournament 2012, Northeast Region Preview: Nation's Best Battle In Worcester

It's safe to say the Northeast region is not lacking talent. Besides Worcester featuring both the top team in the country, Boston College, and the defending national champion in Minnesota Duluth, each of the four schools playing this weekend have one of the 10 Hobey Baker nominees. It wouldn't be surprising to see at least two of them among the three Hobey finalists.

THE GAMES

No. 1 Boston College Eagles (29-10-1) v. No. 4 Air Force Falcons (21-10-7)
Saturday, March 24, 4 p.m. ET | TV: ESPNU
More Coverage: SB Nation Boston, Eagles blog BC Interruption

No. 2 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs (24-9-6) vs. No. 3 Maine Black Bears (23-13-3)
Saturday, March 24, 7:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN3.com, FS North+

The regional final will be played at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 25.

All games at DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Boston College and Air Force received automatic berths as the Hockey East and Atlantic Hockey tournament champions, respectively. Minnesota Duluth earned an at-large bid after finishing second in the WCHA during the regular season and losing to Denver in the semifinals of WCHA conference tournament. Maine finished fourth in Hockey East but were the conference tournament runners-up, defeating Boston University, 5-3, on Friday before losing to BC, 4-1, on Saturday night.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Boston College: A trio of juniors -- No. 19, F Chris Kreider (New York Rangers); No. 35, G Parker Milner; and No. 2, D Brian Dumoulin (Carolina Hurricanes and a Hobey Baker finalist). The Eagles also have received 40 points from freshman No. 13, F Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames).

Minnesota Duluth: No. 12, F Jack Connolly (a Hobey Baker finalist); No. 23, F J.T. Brown; No. 2, D Brady Lamb; and No. 17, F Mike Seidel.

Maine: No. 10, F Brian Flynn; No. 27, D Will O'Neill (Winnipeg Jets); No. 39, F Joey Diamond; and (provided he plays) No. 13, F Spencer Abbott (a Hobey Baker finalist).

Air Force: No. 27, F John Kruse; No. 25, D Tim Kirby (a Hobey Baker finalist); No. 9, Kyle De Laurell; and No. 29, G Jason Torf.

TEAM PREVIEWS

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.

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