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Merrimack College Plays at TD Garden in Hockey East Semifinal Tonight

The (#7) Warriors take on (#10) UNH with a shot at the Hockey East Title on the line; Patch takes a look at Merrimack's historic season.

Have you seen those blue and gold lawn signs that read “Go Merrimack” around North Andover?

The Merrimack College Warriors hockey team, traditionally sub-par within the ridiculously talented Hockey East, is fast approaching the culmination of their best season in team history.

Merrimack College Athletic Director Glenn Hofmann wrote the following in the sixth edition of “From the AD’s Desk”:

“The slogan reads 2,000 Students, 28 Players, 1 Mission - and it’s on signs all over campus, throughout Andover and North Andover and on the athletics and college website. Were it not for space limitations the slogan would have also included 22,000 alumni and 594 faculty and staff.”

Warrior pride has never been more palpable.

Over the past weekend, Merrimack swept the University of Maine Black Bears 2-0 in a weekend series right here in North Andover.

Tickets for the playoff series sold out in less than two days.

Merrimack has seen their ranking soar to as high as number four in the entire nation, let alone their success within the Hockey East Association.

Currently number seven in the nation, Merrimack’s playoff series win has earned them a berth in the single elimination Hockey East Semifinals at the hallowed TD Garden.

Merrimack has reached the Hockey East Semifinals only once in team history, back in 1998. This year, they have a shot at their first ever berth in the final.

On Friday, the Warriors take on (#10) Univeristy of New Hampshire. Merrimack took the season series over the Wildcats 2-1.

 

Strong Warriors

Merrimack has a young and talented core as well as a dedicated and experienced head coach.

  • Stephane Da Costa – This sensational sophomore is a playmaker from Paris. He was last year’s NCAA Rookie of the Year and turned down a shot at the NHL to return to Merrimack. He leads the team with 41 points in 30 games this year.
  • Joe Cannata – He is the winnigest goalie in Merrimack’s Division I history. He has already been drafted by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. He has a .911 save percentage on the season.
  • Chris Barton – Merrimack’s fearless captain became the tenth Merrimack skater in the team’s history to reach 100 career points. He has been named a Hockey East Top Performer in four weeks this season.
  • Mark Dennehy – The Warriors’ head coach is in his sixth season coaching the Warriors. He was signed to a new contract during the regular season.

 

A Look Back

Merrimack’s season has been simply unforgettable as the team accumulated a school record 24 wins, and Patch was present to capture many of the memorable moments. Here are some highlights:

  • – Merrimack College unveiled its newly renovated Lawler Arena to the delight of its fans and students. The Warriors celebrated by crushing UConn 7-1.
  • – Merrimack, unranked at the time, shocked Boston College 4-2. The Eagles are the defending NCAA National Champions.
  • – Against the top ranked team in the nation, unranked Merrimack led Boston University 3-1 going into the final period. BU stormed back to tie the game 3-3.
  • – Boston College must fear North Andover. Once again, the Warriors took out the defending national champs; this time the final score was 5-3.
  • Dec. 30, 2010 – Merrimack celebrated its first ever national ranking by taking down Army in overtime 2-1.
  • – The 17th ranked Warriors ripped the ninth ranked Maine Black Bears 7-1 to please the North Andover crowd.
  • Feb. 25, 2011 – Merrimack traveled to Maine as the #4 team in the nation. They came away with a 2-1 over Maine in this one.
  • March 12, 2011 – In the Hockey East Quarterfinal, Merrimack was a win away from advancing to the TD Garden. Right here in North Andover, they crushed Maine 6-2.

 

Looking Ahead

Friday’s semifinal showdown against UNH will unarguably be the biggest game in Merrimack College history.

The Warriors have amassed more talent than they have ever had and have become a national force in Division 1 hockey.

TD Garden will host the prestigious Hockey East Semifinals and Final. Should Merrimack advance, they will face the winner of Friday’s Northeastern vs. Boston College matchup on Saturday night.

Friday’s game will be televised on NESN. Radio coverage will be on 1400AM.

And most importantly, stay tuned to Patch for full coverage of Friday’s semifinal matchup.

darren March 18, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Go merrimack. Go jesse go from darren and shelley

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