The horse race is over in the ECAC Northeast. Now, the fight to continue the season begins for six teams.
Saturday marked the final day of the regular season for the conference’s eight teams, and by virtue of Saturday’s 5-2 win over Salve Regina and Thursday’s 5-3 win over Curry, Wentworth edged out Curry by a point in the standings to earn the league’s top seed in the playoffs.
The Leopards will be guaranteed home ice through the course of the league playoffs, as the ECAC Northeast tournament begins Saturday with the quarterfinals: No. 3 Nichols (11-12-2) will host Becker (9-14-2) at 2:40 p.m. Saturday, and No. 4 Johnson and Wales (13-9-3) will host No. 5 Western New England (13-11-1) at 1:45 p.m. Saturday.
Wentworth (18-6-1) and Curry (13-10-2), the league’s first- and second-place teams, receive a bye in the league quarterfinals.
Wentworth will host the lowest remaining seed in a conference semifinal at 8 p.m. Feb. 29, while Curry will host the highest remaining seed in a conference semifinal at 7:35 p.m. Feb. 29.
The ECAC Northeast tournament champion will earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which begins March 7.
Magic number 500
Salem State coach Bill O’Neill earned his 500th career win Saturday with the Vikings’ 8-2 win over Framingham State, and the win locked the Vikings into second place in the MASCAC.
Plymouth State clinched the MASCAC regular-season championship Saturday with a 2-0 win over Massachusetts-Dartmouth, as junior goalie Jack Astedt made 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
The MASCAC schedule ends Tuesday with three games: Plymouth State at Fitchburg State, Framingham State at Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Worcester State at Salem State.
The only toss-up left in the conference is third and fourth place, as Massachusetts-Dartmouth has 20 points and Fitchburg State 18. The two teams split the regular-season series, and Massachusetts-Dartmouth needs a win and a Fitchburg State loss or tie to secure third place.
The MASCAC playoff bracket will be released Wednesday morning.