ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 07: : Kenny Reiter #35 of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs stops a shot by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Men's Frozen Four on April 7, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 4-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The University of Miami Ohio will start their seventh straight NCAA Hockey tournament appearance with a game against UMass Lowell.
The East region in the NCAA hockey tournament has the potential to be wide open this season with three teams under the control of new coaches. The Miami Ohio Redhawks have some tournament experience, this being their 7th tournament appearance in a row.In that regard they'll have an advantage going against their first round opponent UMass Lowell on Friday, as this is their first tournament appearance since 1996.
It's been the defense carrying the Redhawks this season along with stellar play in the second half of the year by goalie Connor Knapp. The River Hawks get pretty good goaltending as well, with Doug Carr posting a 21-9-1 record with a .930 save percentage and 2.08 GAA in 2011/2012.
UMass has a good squad, but experience is a big key and the Redhawks have that in spades over the tournament starved River Hawks. On the other hand, being in the East puts UMass very close to home, near where their home fans can show up and give them support.
Game Time: March 23, 6:30 p.m. ET
For more on the 2012 NCAA Hockey Tournament, stick with SB Nation Cleveland's story stream.