Hockey Takes on Princeton, #13/12 Union at Catamount Cup Saturday, Sunday

MERRIMACK COLLEGE HOCKEY

Game #17 vs. Princeton @ TD Bank/Catamount Cup (Burlington, VT), Saturday, December 29, 2012, 4 p.m. / Watch / Listen (WGAM) / Follow / Twitter / Game Notes (.pdf)

Game #18 vs. #13/12 Union @ TD Bank/Catamount Cup (Burlington, VT), Sunday, December 30, 2012, 4 p.m. / Watch / Listen (WSMN) / Follow / Twitter / Game Notes (.pdf)

Eagle Tribune: Merrimack's Collins leads a surprising group

Saturday's Matchup: Back on the ice for the first time since December 11, Merrimack opens the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup Saturday against Princeton University.

Lifetime vs. Princeton: Merrimack is 4-4-2 lifetime against the Tigers. The teams have not played since 2004, when Merrimack swept a pair of games at Princeton in January of the 03-04 season and a pair of games in North Andover in December of the 04-05 campaign.

Sunday's Matchup: Merrimack takes on the Dutchmen tonight for the second time this season to conclude its December schedule and the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup.

Lifetime vs. Union: Merrimack is 20-7-3 lifetime against Union, 1-0-1 at a neutral site.

This Season vs. Union:
(10/6/12 @ Union, W, 4-1): Sam Marotta made 33 saves while Josh Myers had his first-career two-goal game as Merrimack opened the season with a 4-1 victory over #5 Union.

Recapping the First Half
The Warriors concluded the up-and-down first half of their 2012-13 season with a 6-7-3 record overall, 4-4-1 in Hockey East, going 2-0-1 in the last four.  They now sit in a tie for sixth place in Hockey East but could jump as high as fourth if they take advantage of the games in hand they hold over all conference rivals. Mike Collins leads the Warriors with 19 points and leads Hockey East in points per game in league games (1.56/gm).

Previewing the Catamount Cup
Merrimack concludes non-conference play this weekend against Princeton and Union. The Tigers have not played since December 8 and are winless in five straight (0-3-2) dating back to November 23. After losing to Merrimack 4-1 on opening night, Union went seven games without a loss (6-0-1) and finished the pre-holiday slate with three straight ties.

Princeton Connections
Head Coach Mark Dennehy coached at Princeton under Don Cahoon from 1994-99, helping to lead the Tigers to their first-ever ECAC title and NCAA appearance in 1998. Former Associate Head Coach Darren Yopyk played at Princeton and was an assistant coach on the 1998 Tigers team.

Union - Round 2
Merrimack faces Union for the second time this season on Sunday, 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. Behind two goals from Josh Myers and 33 saves from Sam Marotta, Merrimack defeated then #5 Union 4-1 on opening night in Schenectady, N.Y. It marked the first road win against a team ranked in the top five under Dennehy and snapped Union's 11-game unbeaten streak at home (9-0-2) that dated back to November 12, 2011.

First of Two Straight Weekends in Burlington
Merrimack will return to UVM next Saturday to battle the Catamounts in a game that will be aired nationally by CBS College Sports. This will mark the first time Merrimack will be televised by CBS College Sports. The Warriors defeated and tied UVM in a two-game set at Lawler in October.

Collins Anchors Offensive Attack
Leading Merrimack in goals, assists, points and shots, Mike Collins is tied for 2nd in Hockey East with 9 goals and tied for 3rd with 19 points. He has points in 13 of his last 14 games, amassing all 19 points in those games. The junior leads HEA in points per game (1.56) in conference games.

Merrimack Concludes Pre-Holiday Schedule with 14th Straight Win over Army
Ten different players picked up points as Merrimack extended its unbeaten streak to three with a 4-2 victory over Army on 12/11. Freshman Justin Hussar had his first-career multi-point game, while classmate Vinny Scotti netted the game-winner with seven minutes to play. The win extended Merrimack's streak against Army to 14 straight games, their longest against any opponent.

Shots, Shots, Shots
The Warriors outshot Army 46-24 in the 12/11 win. The 46 shots were their most in a game since they fired 48 vs. UAH on 11/23/11, while the 19 shots in the first were their most in a period since they had 20 in the third at BU on 1/6/12. MC fired 19 shots in the second period against Army last season (10/15/11).

Hussar Named Hockey East Pro Ambitions Co-Rookie of the Week
Justin Hussar was named the Hockey East Pro Ambitions Co-Rookie of the Week after notching a goal and an assist in the win over Army. Hussar has six points in 12 games, tops among Merrimack freshmen.

Marotta, Tirronen Split Time in Net
During the first half of the season, Sam Marotta (2.60 G.A.A., .913 SV%) and Rasmus Tirronen (2.35 G.A.A., .914 SV%) alternated starts with each goaltender posting three wins. Marotta started 3-1-0, while Tirronen has been strong recently, posting a 3-1-1 record in his last 5 starts. After starting the season 0-2 with a 4.62 G.A.A. and a .842 SV%, Tirronen is 3-1-2 in his last six starts with a 1.79 G.A.A. and a .933 SV%.

Countdown to 100 for Dennehy
Mark Dennehy is five wins shy of 100 in his career at Merrimack. His 100th win will tie him for third all-time with Bruce Parker (78-83). Ron Anderson is the program's all-time wins leader with 255 and the all-time Division I leader with 114 wins.

Plenty of Overtime
Four of nine games at home this year have required more than 60 minutes. Merrimack is 0-1-3 in OT this season.

Winless Streak at Lawler Snapped
Mired in its longest home winless streak (five games) since January of 2009, Merrimack ended the skid with a victory over Army. The Warriors are 3-3-3 at home this year and are 38-13-8 in their last four seasons at Lawler Arena.

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

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 on 12/7/12. The Warriors had a man advantage for the entire five-minute OT but couldn't convert. 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.

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

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.

Merrimack Drops 3-2 OT Decision to Providence
Tim Schaller scored with 37 seconds left in OT to give Providence the 3-2 win at Lawler. Rhett Bly and Connor Toomey scored for the Warriors while Sam Marotta stopped 24 shots.

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

Rare Non-Conference Struggles
Merrimack was 11-1-3 in its last 15 non-conference games before being swept at the Alaska Goal Rush, falling to Connecticut, tying Colgate and Harvard, and beating Army. The Warriors are 13-2-2 in their last 17 non-conference home games but are 1-2-2 in their last five.

Heywood 92-for-92
Jordan Heywood has played all 92 games in three seasons at Merrimack.

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, Merrimack led unanimous #1 BC 3-0 in the second, but the Eagles stormed back for the 4-3 win led by two goals from Steven Whitney. In a wild second, John Gustafsson, Kyle Bigos and Mike Collins scored in a 4:36 span for Merrimack before BC answered with three straight in 5:14.

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 11/1/03 when they led RPI 3-0 but lost 5-4.

Blue Line Shows Offensive Depth
Merrimack's defense has combined for 37 points this season. Last year, Merrimack's defense ranked among the nation's best in scoring.

Bigos Closes in on Merrimack, Hockey East Penalty Minute Records
Kyle Bigos has 391 career penalty minutes and needs 9 to match the Hockey East and Merrimack all-time records of 400, set by Tom Costa from 1992-96.

Gustafsson Nets First Goal, Assist; Named HEA Rookie of the Week
The HEA Rookie of the Week on 11/19, 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 at BC; 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 BC. He has played each of the last six games on defense, also seeing time on the power play and penalty kill, and has notched three assists as a defender

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 21-12 in the third period this season, netting three third-period tallies against Union, Alaska-Anchorage, Vermont, NU and Army.

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.

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.

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.

Heywood Tallies a Pair in NU Win
With two goals in the 5-2 win at NU, Jordan Heywood became the first MC 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 2-3-2 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 12-4-5.

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.

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.

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. Marotta made 16 first-period stops, while Myers picked up his first 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.

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.

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.

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.

Seniors Need 4 Wins to be Most Successful Class in D1 History
The senior class of Kyle Bigos, Nick Drew, Brandon Brodhag and John Heffernan needs four 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.

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.

This is Our House
Merrimack sold out 23 of its last 31 home games.

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.

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