February 1, 2013

Hockey Hosts #13/12 Lowell Friday (7 pm) on NESN; Merrimack Fans Wear Gold

MERRIMACK COLLEGE HOCKEY

Game #26 vs. #13/12 UMass Lowell, 7 p.m. (TIME CHANGE), Lawler Arena / Tickets / Watch Live on NESN beginning at 6:30 p.m. / Listen / Follow / Twitter / Game Notes (.pdf)

Game #27 at #4/4 New Hampshire, 7 p.m., Whittemore Center / Watch Live on WBIN/FCSA / Watch Online / Listen / Follow / Twitter / Game Notes (.pdf)

TV Note for Friday: NESN will provide unprecedented access to a Hockey East locker room in the broadcast on Friday from Lawler Arena, as NESN cameras will give Hockey East fans an inside look to Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy's pre-game speech from the Warriors' locker room.

Friday's Matchup: Opening a stretch in which they are televised in eight of their final 11 regular season games, Merrimack begins its season-series with UMass Lowell tonight.

Lifetime vs. UML: Merrimack is 36-68-9 lifetime but is 4-2-1 in the last seven meetings.

Last Season vs. Lowell: (Series Tied 1-1-1)

Lifetime vs. UNH: Merrimack is 18-66-9 lifetime against UNH, but has compiled seven wins
and a tie over the last five seasons, while winning two straight in Durham. Fifteen of the last 17 league regular season games have been decided by one goal or less between the two teams.

This Season vs. New Hampshire: (Series Tied 1-1-0)
(1/25/13 @ MC, 3-2): Brian Christie had his first-career three-point game, while Mike Collins had his second-straight three-point game as Merrimack prevailed 3-2 in the series opener Friday.
(1/26/13 @ UNH, 2-6): Dan Kolomatis and Ben Bahe scored but the Wildcats scored twice in the final 1:02 of the second to put the game away.

Merrimack Earns Weekend Split with #4 New Hampshire
Brian Christie had his first-career three-point game, netting the game-winner :07 into the third, leading Merrimack to a 3-2 win over #4 UNH on 1/25 before the Wildcats evened the series with a 6-2 victory on 1/26 at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Mike Collins recorded his second-straight three-point game and had a pair of goals in front of the third-straight sellout at Lawler Arena.

First Win over Top-4 Team since 2010
The win over UNH marked the first over a top-four ranked team since beating #2 BC on 10/30/10.

Hockey East Standings Update
Merrimack sits in a tie for fifth place in Hockey East with Lowell with 18 points and trails Providence by one point for fourth but has a game in hand on the Friars. The Warriors are 3-1 in season-series, with victories over Maine, Northeastern and Vermont. Merrimack is 5-2-1 in its last 8 Hockey East games. They went 4-2-1 in January and are 5-3-3 in their last eleven.

Collins Leads Hockey East in Conference Scoring, Points per Game; Named HEA POW
Mike Collins leads the league with 25 conference points and 1.56 points per league game and is tied for second with 30 overall points. Collins has points in 12 of 16 conference games and has passed his last season's point total already. Leading HEA with 10 power-play points in league games, he has 17 more points (30) than Merrimack's second-leading scorer (Toomey) (13). Collins has 10 points in the first and last minute of a period, most in the country.

Collins Earns Hockey East Monthly, Weekly Honors
Collins was rewarded by being named the league's Co-Player of the Week and Athletic Republic Player of the Month for January. The junior had 11 points in January, as Merrimack went 4-2-1.
 
Marotta Among HEA Elite Goaltenders
Sam Marotta, the 1/21/13 HEA Defensive Player of the Week, has started five straight games, seizing the starting goaltender job. Prior to the 6-2 loss to UNH, he had allowed just six goals in five starts. He is fourth in HEA in goals-against (2.29) and save percentage (.919).

Senior Class is Most Successful Class in D1 History
The senior class of Kyle Bigos, Nick Drew, Brandon Brodhag and John Heffernan is the most successful class in Merrimack's Div. I history after earning its 69th win by defeating UNH on 1/25/13, surpassing the record set by last year's class. With a 69-51-18 record, the class of 2013 could become the first class to make the playoffs in all four seasons since HEA expanded from 8 teams.

Countdown to 100 at Merrimack: Dennehy Sits at 99
Mark Dennehy is one win 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. Dennehy notched his 100th career win against Maine (1/12/13).  He won three games at Fairfield prior to coming to MC.

NESN Back at Lawler
After not coming to Lawler for six years, NESN returns tonight for the fourth time in three years. Merrimack is 2-0-1 with NESN in North Andover, highlighted by a series-clinching game-two victory in the HEA Quarters over Maine in 2011. NESN will broadcast live from Lawler twice in the next eight days.

Tough Remaining Schedule
All but 4 of Merrimack's 11 remaining regular season games are against nationally ranked teams. Eight of Merrimack's final 11 games will be televised. Merrimack recently played Maine 3 times in 8 days and is in the midst of playing UNH 3 times in 9 days at 3 different arenas.

This is Our House
The Warriors are 5-4-3 at home this year and are 40-14-8 in their last four seasons at Lawler Arena. Merrimack has one home game in each remaining weekend.

Merrimack Earns Win, Tie at Alfond for First-Ever Three-Point Weekend in Maine
Following a 1-1 tie behind 30 saves from Sam Marotta, Mike Collins had three assists and Rhett Bly scored the game-winner as Merrimack earned its first-ever three-point weekend at Alfond. The Warriors took the season-series from Maine 2-0-1 in an eight-day span. Collins had six points in the series. The Warriors are 7-2-2 in their last 11 meetings with the Black Bears.

Goaltending Rotation Snapped
Sam Marotta (2.29 G.A.A., .919 SV%) and Rasmus Tirronen (2.58 G.A.A., .905 SV%) alternated starts through the first 22 games. Sam Marotta, who made his first back-to-back start of the season against Maine on 1/18/13, has started the last five games.

Defensemen are Offensive
Merrimack's defense has combined for 56 points. Brendan Ellis is tied for 4th in HEA in league scoring among defenders with 10 points, while 4 of the 9 Warriors with 10 or more points are defensemen. Kyle Bigos has 5 points in his last 6 games.

Heywood Skates in 102nd Straight Game Tonight
Captain Jordan Heywood will play in his 102nd straight game tonight.

Christie Catching Fire
Sixth overall in scoring among rookies, Brian Christie leads Merrimack freshmen with 12 points.

Heywood Named Hockey Humanitarian Nominee
Jordan Heywood has been named 1 of 11 nominees for the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. Nominees are selected that "best exemplify personal character, a commitment to studies, and whose contributions to his/her larger community is worthy of their attention." Heywood is one of just two juniors among the group of 11 and is the only representative from Hockey East.

Merrimack Takes Series Opener over Maine at Sold-Out Lawler
One night after suffering its worst home loss in over 11 months, Merrimack rebounded with its most dominant win since 11/23/11, blanking Maine 6-0 at a sold-out Lawler . Merrimack scored six times for the first time since the home opener. The six-goal victory was its most dominant conference win since 2/5/11 (UMass, 11-2) and its most one-sided victory over Maine since a 7-1 win on 1/8/11.

Spread-Out Offense Ignites 6-0 Victory
Eleven different players had points in the win over Maine, while four, Mike Collins, Kyle Bigos, Brendan Ellis and Connor Toomey, had multi-point efforts.

Merrimack Falls to #8 Boston University 4-1 in Return Home with Sellout Crowd
After a month away from Lawler, Merrimack suffered its worst home loss since 2/3/12, falling to #8 BU 4-1. The Terriers scored the game's first four goals before Kyle Bigos scored in the third. Merrimack outshot BU 38-24 in the loss.

Merrimack Returns to League Action with 4-1 Victory at Vermont
Merrimack returned to league play after a 35-day absence and captured the season-series over Vermont with a 4-1 road win. Mike Collins, Brian Christie, and Brendan Ellis each had multi-point efforts, while Sam Marotta stopped 23 shots in net.

Historic Unbeaten Streak Against Vermont
The Warriors improved to 9-0-3 against Vermont over the last 12 games, marking their longest unbeaten streak against any league team in school history. They went 2-0-1 this season.

Special Teams, Health Fuel UVM Win
Merrimack's special teams led the way in the UVM win, as the power play was 1-for-2, while the penalty kill survived a full two-minute 5-on-3. Quinn Gould returned to the lineup after missing 10 games, while Brendan Ellis returned after missing last weekend. Nearly at full strength health-wise, Merrimack's lineup included 4 freshmen, 6 sophomores and only 2 seniors.

First Time Ever on CBS
Merrimack's 4-1 win at UVM was nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network, marking the first time in school history that CBS Sports Network aired a Merrimack game. CBSSN will televise two games at Lawler later this season (BC, Lowell).

Recapping the First Half
The Warriors concluded the up-and-down first half of their 2012-13 season with a 6-8-4 record overall, 4-4-1 in HEA, going 2-1-2 in December.

Plenty of Overtime
Four of eleven games at home this year have required more than 60 minutes. Merrimack is 0-1-5 in OT this season.

Rare Third-Period Lead Blown
MC had been 48-1-3 dating back to 2009 when leading after 2 periods before losing to Union after they were leading 1-0 entering the 3rd.

Bigos Sets Merrimack, Hockey East Penalty Minute Records
With 16 penalty minutes against BU, Kyle Bigos set the Merrimack and Hockey East penalty minute records and now has 420 in his career. Bigos has spent nearly 7 hours in the penalty box. Listed below are the HEA schools' PIM record-holders.

Recapping the Catamount Cup
Merrimack overcame a 2-0 deficit to tie Princeton 2-2 behind goals from Justin Mansfield and Shawn Bates. The Warriors outshot Princeton 36-20. They led Union 1-0 entering the third behind a power-play goal from Brian Christie, but the Dutchmen rallied for four third-period markers, sending Merrimack home with a 0-1-1 mark.

MC 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 win over Army on 12/11. Justin Hussar had his first-career multi-point game, while Vinny Scotti netted the game-winner with seven minutes to play. The win extended Merrimack's streak against Army to 14 straight games, its 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).

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 9-of-11 shots in 20 minutes of action as Merrimack lost 3-1.

Merrimack Concludes 2012 League Play with Big 2-1 Win at PC
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.

Collins, Tirronen Lead Merrimack to 1-1 Tie with Colgate
Mike Collins scored while Rasmus Tirronen had 21 saves as MC snapped a three-game losing streak with a 1-1 tie with Colgate on Black Friday.

Rare Non-Conference Struggles
Merrimack went 2-4-3 in non-league games this season. They were 11-1-3 in their last 15 non-conference games before being swept at the Alaska Goal Rush, falling to Connecticut and Union, tying Colgate, Harvard and Princeton, and beating Army. The Warriors are 15-2-2 in their last 19 non-conference home games dating back to the start of the 2007-08 season but are 1-2-2 in their last five.

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, MC led unanimous #1 BC 3-0 in the 2nd, but the Eagles stormed back for the 4-3 win. In a wild 2nd, 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 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.

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

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 12 games on defense, also seeing time on the power play and penalty kill, and has notched four points as a defender.

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

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 28-21 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 UVM. 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.

Overcoming 2-0 Deficit
Merrimack has overcome a 2-0 deficit four times this year, twice to win (10/26 vs UVM, 11/3 vs. NU) and twice to tie (12/7 vs. Harvard, 12/29 vs. Princeton).

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 2-4-3 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 12-4-6.

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.

Sudden Death Success
Merrimack is 7-3-16 in OT in its last 26 regular season OT games dating back to the start of 2010-11.

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.

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 12/13/03. Merrimack's last win against a team ranked in the top-5 was against then #2 BC at Lawler on 10/30/10. Merrimack's win snapped Union's 11-game unbeaten streak at home (9-0-2) dating back to 11/12/11 against Yale.

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.

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 26 of its last 34 home games.

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 HEA) and finished the season 9-12-6, losing to Maine in the HEA Quarterfinals in 3 games as the #5 seed. MC was ranked all season for the 1st time in school history.

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.

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

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.

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. Fans should download the free WGAM app on their phone.  

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.

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