Merrimack College Hockey
MIAA IA Hockey Tournament
Valley Hockey Youth Leagues
Most Recently Renovated:
The home of Warrior Hockey, Lawler Rink was named after former men's hockey head coach, Thom Lawler, the winningest coach in program history. J. Thom Lawler Rink - more commonly known as Lawler Rink - has evolved into one of the more difficult rinks for opponents in recent years, as Merrimack's home ice advantage now ranks as one of the best in the conference.
In recent years, the rink has undergone several facelifts and stands out as one of the more unique venues in Hockey East. While the smallest in capacity, when students and fans arrive in droves, the home ice advantage is undeniable.
The most recent renovations to Lawler Rink were completed in 2012-13 as part of the Merrimack Athletic Center Expansion Project. Four new luxury suites were added to bring the total amount to eight; also during that span, the Blue Line Club was completely renovated and equipped with state-of-the-art amenties, including new furniture, hi-definition televisions, and more.
Before then, additional renovations to Lawler Rink were completed in January 2011 when chairback seating was installed throughout the rink. The new configuration allowed for a more comfortable viewing experience along wtih a dedicated student section at the north end that proves imposing to visiting Hockey East teams and all who enter Lawler Rink.
An entirely new press box configuation was installed in recent years, as well. With the revamping of the press area, Lawler's press row can now house various media representatives, along with radio broadcasters for both teams, administrators, coaching staff members, and more. The work area comes equipped with hard-wire ethernet, wireless connection, A/C power outlets, and other ameneties for members of the media.
Lawler's Merrimack legacy lives on thanks to the efforts of three Merrimack alumni - John Donovan ’78, Ron Connors ’78, and Ken Duane ’80. The three Merrimack alumni issued a challenge in September of 2001 and proudly announced at the end of the 2002-2003 season that the challenge was a success, raising a sum of $1.2 million to name the rink after their former coach.
The rink dedication took place on Oct. 25, 2003, with a special ceremony on the night of a home game against Hockey East rival Providence College.
Lawler, a Merrimack Hall of Fame member, coached the Warriors for 13 seasons from the 1965-1978, until his sudden death at the age of 44. Lawler compiled a 218-138-10 record at Merrimack. Lawler’s .609 winning percentage remains the best in the history of Merrimack hockey. Lawler coached the Warriors to the program’s only National Championship in 1978 and also guided them to three championships in the prestigious ECAC while making 11 playoff appearances. Lawler’s teams made the playoffs in all but one year while he was at the helm, and besides winning the ECAC titles, his team was national runner-up four times.
Lawler died suddenly at the age of 44 on Sunday, June 11, 1978, only months after leading the Warriors to their only national title. Lawler’s son, Thom, was a freshman on that team and went on to become captain in the 1980-81 season. Then vice-president of development Bob Hatem had this to say about Coach Lawler: "Thom Lawler did something with the small school athletic program which brought us national attention. I think the man truly represented what sports are supposed to do." Mike Reynolds, a player under Lawler added, "He helped me as a hockey player and as a person. I put 100 percent because I loved the man. He was great."
Lawler, who was a veteran of the Korean War, was a native of Rome, N.Y., and a 1960 graduate of St. Lawrence University. At St. Lawrence, he participated in two national championship games as a member of the hockey team and was named MVP of the baseball team.
After his college graduation, Lawler coached football, baseball, and basketball at Madrid-Waddington Central school then spent four years at Canton Central (N.Y.) before arriving at Merrimack in 1965. While at Canton, his baseball and hockey teams were involved in championship play for three years in the 1960s.