December 11, 2012

Merrimack Hosts Army Tuesday on Armed Forces Night; Tickets Still Available

MERRIMACK COLLEGE HOCKEY

Game #16 vs. Army, Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 7 p.m., Lawler Arena / Tickets / Watch / Listen / Follow / Twitter / Game Notes (.pdf)

Tonight's Matchup: Merrimack concludes its pre-holiday schedule and a stretch of three home games in five days tonight against Army. Merrimack will go exactly one month before its next home game.

Lifetime vs. Army: Merrimack is 21-15-1 lifetime but 11-0 at Lawler Arena. The Warriors have won 13 straight meetings between the two teams.

Last Season vs. Army:
(10/15/11 - W, 3-2 @ Merrimack): John Heffernan had the game-winner and added an assist as Merrimack outshot Army 40-21 in its home opener.

Sixth Straight Season
This will be the sixth straight season Merrimack and Army have met. Three games have been decided by one goal, including last season when Merrimack prevailed 3-2 in its home opener. In 2010-11, Jesse Todd scored in OT in West Point to give the Warriors the 2-1 OT win. In 2009-10, Stephane Da Costa burst onto the scene with five goals, three in the first, in a 6-3 victory.

The Rare Tuesday Night Game
This is Merrimack's first game on a Tuesday since 1/18/11 when they defeated Boston University 3-2. Merrimack went 2-0 on Tuesdays that season, also defeating Harvard 3-1. In 2009-10, they lost to BC 7-0 on a Tuesday.

Army-Merrimack Connection
Army head coach Brian Riley's daughter Danielle is a freshman on the Merrimack women's lacrosse team.

Bly, Collins Lead Merrimack to 2-2 Tie against #20 Harvard
Trailing 2-0, Rhett Bly and Mike Collins scored in the second period as Merrimack tied #20 Harvard 2-2 Friday night. The Warriors had a man advantage for the entire five-minute overtime but couldn't convert despite three shots. Merrimack outshot Harvard 38-24 in the game.

Bly Nets Merrimack's First Short-Handed Goal in Exactly One  Year
Incredibly, Rhett Bly's shorthanded goal against Harvard was Merrimack's first shorthanded tally in exactly one year. Jeff Velleca scored shorthanded against UVM on December 7, 2011.

Plenty of Overtime
The last three Merrimack home games have gone to overtime, while four of eight games at home this year have required more than 60 minutes. Merrimack is 0-1-3 in OT this season.

Winless at Home in Five Straight
With a 37-13-8 record in the last four years at Lawler Arena, Merrimack is 0-3-2 in its last five home games and is winless in five straight at home for the first time since January of 2009.

Collins Fourth in Hockey East in Scoring
Mike Collins is fourth in Hockey East in scoring as the junior has 8 goals and 18 points. He has points in 12 of his last 13 games, amassing all 18 points in those games.

Hockey East Standings Update
Merrimack sits in a tie for fifth place with Vermont and Massachusetts, but the Warriors have played two fewer games. When the Warriors play their next league game on January 5 at Vermont, they will have played fewer league games than any other Hockey East team.

Nick Drew Night
Senior Nick Drew made his first career start in goal against the U.S. National Under-18 Team. Drew stopped nine of eleven shots in 20 minutes of action as Merrimack lost 3-1. John Gustafsson scored Merrimack's lone goal.

Merrimack Concludes 2012 League Play with Big 2-1 Win at Providence
Merrimack snapped a five-game winless streak, defeating Providence 2-1 behind goals from Brian Christie (first career) and Josh Myers and a career-high 34 saves from Rasmus Tirronen. Christie's power play goal snapped Merrimack's 1-for-18 skid, while Myers netted his first point since October 26.

First Win with Fewer than Four Goals
The 2-1 win over PC was the first Merrimack win this season in which they scored fewer than four goals.

Tirronen Shakes off the Rust
After starting the season 0-2 with a 4.62 G.A.A. and a .842 save percentage, Rasmus Tirronen is 2-1-2 in his last five starts with a 1.76 G.A.A. and a .935 save percentage. Tirronen and Sam Marotta have alternated starts through 15 games.

Merrimack Drops 3-2 OT Decision to Providence
Tim Schaller scored with 37 seconds to go in overtime to give Providence the 3-2 win at Lawler. Rhett Bly and Connor Toomey scored for the Warriors while Sam Marotta stopped 24 shots in net. Jordan Heywood and Mike Collins combined for 11 of the team's 27 shots on goal.

First OT Home Loss Since 2008
Merrimack's 11/30 OT home loss to PC was the first since losing to BC on 10/31/08.

Rare Non-Conference Home Struggles
Merrimack was 11-1-3 in its last 15 non-conference games before being swept at the Alaska Goal Rush and falling and tying to Connecticut and Colgate respectively. The Warriors are 12-2-2 in their last 16 non-conference home games but are 0-2-2 in their last four.

High-Flying Warriors
After struggling to score goals last season, Merrimack's offense is sixth in Hockey East, averaging 2.67 goals per game. The Warriors' power play is third in HEA. Mike Collins (tied for second) and Connor Toomey (tied for fourth) are among the league leaders in power play points.

Collins, Tirronen Lead Merrimack to 1-1 Tie with Colgate
Mike Collins scored Merrimack's lone goal while Rasmus Tirronen had 21 saves as MC snapped a three-game losing streak with a 1-1 tie with Colgate on Black Friday. Merrimack outshot Colgate 11-3 in the first but was outshot 19-13 the rest of the way.

Deja Vu
The Colgate 1-1 tie was nearly identical to last year's 1-1 tie with the Raiders. In both games, Merrimack scored in the first, and Colgate evened the score in the second.

Merrimack Edged by #1 Boston College
Looking to end a 15-year, 25-game winless streak at Conte Forum, Merrimack led unanimous #1 Boston College 3-0 in the second period, but the Eagles stormed back for the 4-3 win led by two goals from Steven Whitney. In a wild second period, John Gustafsson, Kyle Bigos and Mike Collins scored in a 4:36 span for Merrimack before BC answered with three straight in 5:14.

Bigos' Big Penalty Numbers
Kyle Bigos has 389 career penalty minutes after picking up 125 last season. Bigos needs 11 to match the program's all-time record of 400, set by Tom Costa from 1992-96.

Strong Against the Best
Merrimack is 3-2-1 against ranked teams this season.

Marotta Shines Against #1 Boston College
Sam Marotta had a career-high 38 saves, including multiple point-blank stops highlighted by a breakaway save on Steven Whitney, against #1 BC in the 4-3 loss.

First 3-0 Blown Lead Since 2003
At Boston College, Merrimack suffered its first loss when leading by three or more goals since November 1, 2003 when they led RPI 3-0 but lost 5-4.

Gustafsson Nets First Goal, Assist; Named HEA Rookie of the Week on 11/19
The HEA Rookie of the Week, John Gustafsson notched his first career goal, assist, point and multi-point performance at BC. Gustafsson skated with Mike Collins and Brian Christie on the first line.

Mansfield Debuts on Defense; Tallies Two Assists
Playing defense for the first time in his collegiate career, Justin Mansfield picked up a career-high two assists and was a +1 at Boston College. Mansfield has played each of the last five games on defense, also seeing time on the power play and penalty kill.

Conte Struggles
Merrimack is now 0-24-2 in its last 26 games at Conte. They tied BC 2-2 last year at Conte.

Merrimack Suffers 3-1 Losses to BU, UConn
Merrimack saw its four-game unbeaten streak snapped abruptly as BU and UConn both defeated the Warriors 3-1 at Lawler Arena on 11/9-10. John Heffernan and Kyle Singleton scored for MC.

Lifetime Against #1
Prior to playing BC on 11/16, Merrimack last played a team ranked #1 in the country on November 12-13 of 2010 when they tied then-#1 Boston University twice. Merrimack has not defeated a #1 ranked team since knocking off BU in the Hockey East Quarters on March 13 and 15 of 1998.

Strong Third Periods
Merrimack has outscored its opponents 18-10 in the third period this season, netting three third-period tallies against Union, Alaska-Anchorage, Vermont and NU.

First Atlantic Hockey Loss Since 2006
Merrimack's November 10, 2012 loss to UConn is the first to an Atlantic Hockey team since Holy Cross on October 24, 2006. They were 13-0-3 in their last 16 games against Atlantic Hockey schools.

UConn Streak Snapped
Merrimack was 23-1 all-time against UConn before losing 3-1 on Nov. 10.

Heywood HEA Player of the Week; Merrimack Team of Week on 11/5
Heywood was recognized for his efforts against NU by being named the Athletic Republic Player of the Week, while Merrimack was named HEA Team of the Week for the second time this season.

Heywood, Collins Star in Northeastern Sweep
Mike Collins and Jordan Heywood each had a goal and an assist as Merrimack finished off a weekend sweep of Northeastern. Collins and Heywood combined for nine points on the weekend. Heywood followed his first-career two-goal game by scoring the game-winner and adding an assist in the 4-2 win, while Collins had four assists and five points in the weekend sweep. With the two wins, Merrimack captured the season series from the Huskies for the third straight year.

Defensemen Key 5-2 Road Win at Northeastern
Led by a career-high two goals from Jordan Heywood, Merrimack got five goals from its blue line in a 5-2 win over NU at Matthews. Brendan Ellis had a goal and an assist, while Kyle Bigos scored the game-winner on the power play.

Heywood Tallies a Pair in NU Win
With two goals in the 5-2 win at NU, Jordan Heywood became the first Merrimack defender to net two or more goals in a game since Karl Stollery had a hat trick at RIT on January 1, 2011.

Collins Leads MC to Three-Point Weekend over UVM
Behind a five-point weekend from the 10/29 Hockey East Co-Player of the Week Mike Collins, Merrimack earned a win and a tie against UVM. Collins had three assists in a 6-3 win and two goals in a 2-2 tie.

Three-Goal Third Gives Merrimack 6-3 Win in Home Opener
Jordan Heywood netted the game-winner on 10/26 with 4:44 left in regulation, as Merrimack scored three times in the second and three in the third for the 6-3 victory over Vermont. With the tie on 10/27, Merrimack is unbeaten in its last 11 games (8-0-3) against Vermont.

Merrimack Goes Young
All seven freshmen played both games against Vermont. In the first win over UVM, only one senior played, while there were no seniors in the lineup in the 2-2 tie. In all, 14 of 20 players that played the second night were either freshmen or sophomores.

Ten Net Points; Collins, Bly Notch Three-Point Nights in Home Opener
Mike Collins tied a career-high with three assists, while Rhett Bly set a career-high with three points in the win over Vermont. Ten Warriors had points, including the first two-assist and two-point game from Kyle Singleton and two points each from Brendan Ellis, Josh Myers and Heywood. Collins and Bly are the first Warriors to have a three-point night since Jeff Velleca (2/4/12). Ellis now has eight career assists in eight career games against Vermont.

Overcoming 2-0 Deficit
Merrimack has overcome a 2-0 deficit twice this year (10/26 vs UVM, 11/3 vs. NU) to win and once (12/7 vs. Harvard) to tie.

Rare Non-Conference Struggles
Merrimack was 11-1-3 in its last 15 non-conference games before being swept at the Alaska Goal Rush. The consecutive losses to UAF and UAA mark the first time Merrimack dropped consecutive non-conference games since losing twice at the Badger Classic in 2009-10. Now 1-3-2 in non-conference games this season, Merrimack went 4-1-2 in non-conference games last season, losing only to Union. Dating back to the start of 2010-11, they are 11-4-5.

Merrimack Struggles in Weekend  Trip to Alaska
Merrimack opened the Alaska Goal Rush with optimism, leading 2-0 against Alaska-Fairbanks,  but three power play goals in the second gave UAF the 3-2 win. Alaska-Anchorage scored three first-period goals, two shorthanded, the next night en route to a 6-3 victory over Merrimack.

First October Loss Since 2010
Merrimack's loss to NU snapped its eight-game October winning streak that dated back to Oct. 29, 2010. Merrimack went 6-0 last October and started 9-0-1 overall.

Tirronen Makes 30 Saves in Debut
Sophomore Rasmus Tirronen stopped 30 shots in his collegiate debut at Northeastern. Tirronen was ineligible as a freshman.

90 for Dennehy
The win at Union was the 90th of head coach Mark Dennehy's career.

Marotta, Myers Lead MC to Season-Opening 4-1 Win at Union
Behind 33 saves from Sam Marotta and two goals from Josh Myers, Merrimack opened its season with a win, upsetting #5 Union 4-1. In his second career start, Marotta made 16 first-period stops, while Myers picked up his first career two-goal game. Myers was named the Hockey East Player of the Week, while Marotta was honored as the HEA Defensive Player of the Week.

Blue Line Shows Offensive Depth
Merrimack's defense has combined for 34 points this season. Last year, Merrimack's defense ranked among the nation's best in scoring.

First Top-5 Road Win Under Dennehy
Merrimack's 4-1 win over Union was the first on the road against a team ranked in the top five nationally under Mark Dennehy and was the first since they beat UNH in Durham on December 13, 2003. Merrimack's last win against a team ranked in the top five was against then second-ranked BC at Lawler Arena on October 30, 2010. Merrimack's win snapped Union's 11-game unbeaten streak at home (9-0-2) dating back to November 12, 2011 against Yale.

Bly Picks Up Where He Left Off
After netting his first career two-goal game in game two of the 2011-12 HEA Quarterfinals at Maine, Rhett Bly picked up where he left off, scoring the first goal of the season, 4:04 into the first at Union. Bly has eight points in 15 games.

For Openers
Merrimack improved to 8-2-2 in its last 12 openers. In last season's opener, Merrimack earned its first win in Orono in 12 years, defeating Maine 2-1. The Warriors are 3-1-1 in their last five openers.

Number Changes
Three Merrimack forwards changed numbers this season. John Heffernan switched from 8 to 16. Shawn Bates went from 17 to 9 and Connor Toomey went from 25 to 11.

Quick Glance at 2011-12
Merrimack started the season 9-0-1, earning a #1 ranking for the first time ever for two weeks in November. They were the last team to lose in the country and the first to enter December unbeaten in 15 years. However, they struggled to score all year (8th in Hockey East) and finished the season 9-12-6 after the hot start, losing to Maine in the Hockey East Quarterfinals in three games as the fifth seed. Merrimack was ranked all season for the first time in school history.

The Goaltending Dilemma
The Warriors will hand the goaltending duties to Sam Marotta and Rasmus Tirronen this year after All-American goaltender Joe Cannata graduated. Marotta, a junior, entered this season with one career start, a 5-0 shutout against UConn last year, while Tironnen, a sophomore who hails from Finland, did not play last year due to an eligibility issue. Marotta stopped 86 of 88 shots in his first two years.

Heywood 91-for-91
Jordan Heywood has played all 91 games in three seasons at Merrimack.

First of Two with Union
Strangely, Merrimack will play Union twice this season in different venues, marking the first time they will play a non-conference team twice in separate venues in the same season since playing Dartmouth on 12/15/01 and 12/28/01. The Warriors will next battle the Dutchmen at the Catamount Cup on December 29 at Vermont.

12 Games Televised; 7 Nationally, Most in Hockey East
Merrimack will have 12 games, one-third of its schedule, televised this year, most in school history. The Warriors will have eight home games televised and seven nationally televised games, most in Hockey East. Merrimack has teamed up with WBIN locally to televise four games live from Lawler beginning November 9 against BU. Merrimack will be on NESN twice at home and on CBS Sports three times for the first time ever. Eight of the final 11 regular season games will be televised.

Seven Newcomers
The Warriors welcome seven freshmen to the roster, five forwards and two defensemen. Ben Bahe and Brian Christie played together for Topeka (NAHL), while Justin Hussar, John Gustafsson, Matt Cronin, Vinny Scotti and Sean Robertson round out the talented and deep class of 2016.

Senior Class Needs 5 Wins to be Most Successful Class in D1 History
The senior class of Kyle Bigos, Nick Drew, Brandon Brodhag and John Heffernan needs five wins to supplant last year's class as the winningest class in Merrimack's Div. I history. The class of 2013 could become the first class to make the playoffs in each of its four seasons since Hockey East expanded from eight teams. They were a part of a team that won a school-record 25 games, advanced to its first-ever HEA Championship, was selected to its first-ever NCAA Tournament since joining HEA and earned the program's first-ever #1 ranking.

Three Straight with Maine
Merrimack and Maine will renew their rivalry with three games in an eight-day span, beginning 1/12 at Lawler and ending 1/18-19 at Alfond. The teams have met in each of the last two Hockey East Quarterfinals, with each team winning once.

2012-13 Schedule at a Glance
Merrimack's 2012-13 schedule is highlighted by 19 home games, beginning October 26 and 27 against Vermont following four games away from Lawler. Colgate and Harvard headline the non-conference home schedule. Due to television coverage, Merrimack will play on three consecutive Sunday afternoons from February 17-March 3 and will actually have four straight weekend afternoon games from 2/9-3/3. They will also take on UNH at the Verizon Wireless Arena on January 26 at 5 p.m.

Western Canada Pipeline
Nine of Merrimack's players hail from Western Canada.

Second Smallest Division I School in College Hockey
With an enrollment of 2,312, Merrimack has the second smallest enrollment of any Division I hockey school, behind Colorado College.

2011-12 Trends: Lawler Sellouts
Merrimack sold out 23 of its last 30 home games.

Sudden Death Success
Merrimack is 7-2-14 in OT in its last 23 regular season OT games dating back to the start of 2010-11.

Smallest School Reached the Top
Merrimack ascended to the top of the polls for the first time ever on November 21, 2011 and held that spot for two weeks.

Captains
Merrimack will have three defenders wear letters this season, with junior Jordan Heywood serving as captain, and senior Kyle Bigos and junior Brendan Ellis as the assistant captains.

Merrimack in 40+ Save Performances
Incredibly, over the last four seasons, Merrimack is 4-2-3 when its goaltender stops 40 or more shots.

Merrimack and WBIN Team Up
Merrimack, Pack Network, and WBIN-TV reached an agreement to broadcast four hockey games live from Lawler Rink for the second straight season. Fox College Sports will also broadcast these four games nationally. All home games not televised by NESN or CBS will air online at merrimackathletics.com in HD with Pack Network producing the games in high definition and providing postgame highlights.

Merrimack Inks Radio Deal with WGAM
Merrimack has teamed up with WGAM the Game, an ESPN radio affliate to broadcast all games live on 900 and 1250 AM and online at wgamradio.com. WGAM will have weekly Merrimack features during its 4-6 pm time slot, interviewing players and coaches of the team. Fans should download the free WGAM app to listen on their phone.  John Leahy and Mike Machnik return to call all Merrimack games live.

Volpe Athletic Center Expansion Project Underway
Construction on the 83,000 square foot Volpe Athletic Center Expansion is underway. As part of the project, Merrimack will add a second ice sheet, four new luxury boxes, a 5,000 square foot Center for Sports Medicine, a 8,000 square foot weight room, new locker rooms and offices, and a new lobby, ticket office and pro shop. The expansion project is expected to be completed before the 2013-14 academic year.

Merrimack Ranked Eighth in HEA Preseason Poll
The Warriors were ranked eighth in the Hockey East Preseason Poll.
Rank    Team (1st place votes)        Pts
1.    Boston College (9)        90
2.     UMass Lowell         74
3.    Boston University        73
4.    New Hampshire (1)        63
5.    Maine            56
6.    Northeastern        44
    Providence            44
8.    Merrimack            38
9.    Massachusetts        35
10.    Vermont            23

Ranked Seventh in HEWBA Preseason Poll
The Warriors earned the #7 preseason ranking in the Hockey East Broadcasters and Writers Media poll.
Rank    Team (1st place votes)        Pts
1.    Boston College (21)        243
2.     UMass Lowell (3)        219
3.    Boston University        189
4.    New Hampshire         166
5.    Providence            141
6.    Maine (1)            137
7.    Merrimack            96
8.    Northeastern        87
9.    Massachusetts        70
10.    Vermont            27