Merrimack College Homecoming Features NCAA Tripleheader
Saturday games include Division 1 hockey home opener vs.UConn and grand-reopening of Lawler Arena at 7 p.m.; football hosts Assumption at 1 p.m.; volleyball vs. New Haven at 4 p.m.; and Fall Festival events on campus throughout the day.
Merrimack College's annual homecoming festivities will feature a tripleheader of NCAA Division 1 and 2 athletic action on Saturday as well as a fan festival, fall football barbeque, alumni tailgate party, beer tent, and the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Lawler Arena.
"This is my fourth year here and tomorrow might be the biggest day of the four years," said Merrimack College Sports Information Director Brad Davis.
"Homecoming weekend, a renovated rink, three home events and big crowds expected. There's a lot of excitement, more excitement than we've had in a long time," said Davis, who is in charge of all things sports at Merrimack College.
Merrimack's Division 1 hockey squad will headline the festivities in their 7 p.m. home opener vs. University of Connecticut. The grand reopening of their home venue will feature Rene Rancourt singing the national anthem. The veteran vocalist has made his name by singing the anthem prior to Boston Bruins games for more than 30 years.
The newly removed Lawler Rink will be unveiled. A new video scoreboard, improved individual seating with backs, a new press box, flat screen TVs throughout the facility, and the "Blue Line" club for alumni are all new features to the rink.
North Andover Patch was at the Lawler Area sneak peak event so be sure to see the video preview of the home venues for the Merrimack Warriors.
Lawler Arena will host many top teams from the Hockey East division and an international squad this season. Visiting opponents include Northeastern, Maine, Vermont, UMass Lowell, New Hampshire, Providence, Boston University, and defending national champions Boston College. In November, they host the Sweden U-20 national team.
The Warriors hockey squad made history last year by becoming the only team to beat every other teams in the top-notch Hockey East division. They set a school record in wins in 2009-10.
Merrimack's playmaker from Paris, Stephane da Costa, was named the Hockey East and National Rookie of the Year and will be a big part of a team with big expectations.
The Warriors tied with Niagra 4-4 in their first game of the season.
A pregame fan festival will begin at 6 p.m. and just outside of the Volpe Sports Complex will be various activities, games, and concession stands that will create a festive campus atmosphere.
"Kind of like what you see at Yawkey Way for a Red Sox game," said Davis. There will even be bonfire pits for when the evening gets chilly too, he said.
Earlier in the day, the Division 2 Merrimack football squad will host Assumption College at 1 p.m. The Merrimack Warriors are the reigning Northeast-10 division champions. They are 2-3 so far during the 2010 campaign with a 2-1 record in Northeast-10 Conference play.
At 11:30 a.m., Warrior Field will host a Fall Festival Barbeque complete with a Beer Tent for age 21-plus fans. Pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, and beer for age 21-plus fans are available throughout for game. Admission fees to the Fall Festival Barbeque are $13 and $7 for children.
There will be an Alumni Tailgate Party in the Sakowich parking lot right on campus, and a Kids Corner with inflatable rides, face painting, hay rides, and cider.
Volpe Gym will host a women's volleyball match between Merrimack and New Haven at 4 p.m. This event is absolutely free of charge for all guests.
These struggling Warriors are 4-11 on the season and look to turn things around in the annual homecoming game. Merrimack returned from a three-game road trip in Florida coming home with only a single victory.
Merrimack has high expectations of its athletic program, especially with the new improvements they have made to their facilities.
"We're really excited about what we've done here and we're really looking forward to showcase it beginning tomorrow," said Davis.
The tripleheader is expected to attract many fans from around the community as well as students and alumni.
"We definitely hope for 3-0, but I think we'll be satisfied with a 2-1 day," said Davis of Saturday's tripleheader.
"We expect a lot of success from these teams."
Merrimack hockey, football, and basketball games air during the week on North Andover's local cable channel and the Warriors hockey squad can be followed live on 1400AM.