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February 23. 2014 7:22PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Tourney scenarios abound

DURHAM -- IN THE best case scenario, the UNH hockey team wins a couple of games at Merrimack next weekend, gets a little help from Providence College and earns a top four spot in Hockey East and hosts a league tournament quarterfinal series on March 14-16.

In the worst case scenario, the Wildcats finish as the No. 6 or No. 7 seed and face a single game playoff at home on March 7 for a chance to advance to a best-of-three quarterfinal set on the road.

Bottom line: One weekend and two games remain in the regular season and the playoff possibilities in hotly contested Hockey East are still many.

Start with the details. UNH is 18-15-1 overall and at 10-8-0 in Hockey East after having a bye this past weekend is tied for fifth place in the standings with Providence.

UNH and Providence are a point behind fourth-place Maine, two points behind third-place Northeastern and three behind second-place UMass-Lowell.

The Wildcats play at Merrimack on Friday and Saturday. The Warriors bring up the rear in the league at 7-20-3 overall and 2-14-2 in the league.

The Wildcats can still finish as high as second in Hockey East or as low as seventh.

They will need some help from other teams to move up in the standings and grab home ice.

If the Wildcats win both games at Merrimack, the only way they will not get home ice is if Maine sweeps Providence.

“It’s crazy,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “We knew it was going to be like that based on last year, let alone going to two league games.”

Last year, the Wildcats finished in a three-way tie with Boston University and Providence and were the odd team out after tiebreakers.

BU was awarded the third seed. No. 5 UNH had to go to No. 4 Providence for the quarterfinals and the Wildcats lost in three games.

The league schedule and tournament format were changed this year with Notre Dame becoming the 11th Hockey East team.

Teams play twice for a total of 20 games. Previously they played three times for 27 games.

The top five teams in the final standings earn first-round byes. The teams in the sixth through eighth spots will play host to the teams from ninth to 11th in the single-game playoff.

The top four teams will play host to quarterfinal series.

Northeastern and BU play a home and home set and UMass-Lowell is at Vermont and those series may play a role in where the Wildcats end up in the standings as well.

Tiebreakers start with head-to-head results and then move to number of wins in conference play and later best record against the first-place team, second-place team, and so on.

______

THE UNH women’s basketball team gets another shot at America East power Albany this week as the regular season winds down.

Coach Maureen Magarity and her Wildcats hope they get another shot at the Great Danes after that, too.

Albany brings its 24-3 overall record, 14-0 mark in the league and 37-game winning streak against conference teams to Lundholm Gymnasium on Wednesday night.

The Albany game and a contest at home against Maine on Saturday at 2 p.m. are UNH’s final two regular-season games.

The league tournament will be held at Albany from March 7-10 and UNH would love to be facing Albany on its home court for a championship on Monday, March 10.

First, there’s the regular-season meeting.

UNH ran its overall record to 18-9 and league mark to 12-2 with a 78-71 win over UMass-Lowell on Saturday at Lundholm.

Sophomore center Corinne Coia had a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds and senior guard Kelsey Hogan of Nashua scored 22 points for the Wildcats.

UNH has won four straight games and 14 of its last 16.

The Wildcats had won six straight games and was 4-0 in the league when it played at Albany on Jan. 23.

The Great Danes got off to a fast start and never let up and smacked UNH, 88-47, in that one.

“They showed up on their home floor and responded well and unfortunately we had one of those nights,” Magarity said. “We’ve talked about it since. If we had a night like that it doesn’t matter who we played, if we showed up that way against anybody in our conference we would have lost.”

______

THE men’s basketball team fell to 6-21 overall and 4-10 in America East with a 58-52 loss to UMass-Lowell on Saturday in the second game of a women’s-men’s doubleheader in Durham.

The Wildcats close out the regular season with games at Albany on Thursday night and at Maine on Sunday at 2.

The America East men’s tournament quarterfinals and semifinals are at Albany on March 8 and 9.

alessels@unionleader.com On Twitter: @AllenLessels


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