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MCHOCKEY
02-22-2011, 05:01 AM
Well, at the beginning of the year, had you told me that MC would be 2 points out of first with 4 games remaining, AND holding the tiebreaker with teams #1, #3, and #4, I would have laughed at you and told you to wake up from that dream.

But here we are, Feb. 22nd...and this is the exact situation that the Warriors find themselves in...4 games remaining, 8 points at stake...and looking at the possibility of their first ever Hockey East regular season championship (with a little help in the final 2 weeks).

The Warriors head up to Orono this weekend for a pair of games with the Black Bears, who must be beaming with confidence, especially on the goaltender side, after shutting out UML for 120 minutes. This was a huge confidence boost for them, but will it be enough to fight off one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of 8 straight and 14 of their last 15 games.

I've been up to Orono for games a handful of times and it's ALWAYS a tough place to play...but then again, I'm not sure the Warriors have EVER had this much talent since joining H.E. or have ever been playing with the confidence that this team is.

As for predictions, I'd LOVE to say sweep, but if SDC is still out, I feel a sweep is going to be difficult up in that barn, so unfortunately, I'm going to say a pair of close games, MC winning on Friday 4-2 (ENG) and Maine coming back and winning late on Saturday, 3-2. Although I'll continue to hope for a sweep.

NOW, if Merrimack was to sweep, they will enter the last weekend of the year sitting no more than 2 points out of first place with 2 to go vs. Providence. With a series between BC and UNH looming, MC has positioned themselves perfectly to win the regular season title...but only time will tell. The picture will be a lot clearer after this weekends series where MC battles UMaine, BC plays a pair with UMass and UNH looks to fend off a VERY hot Northeastern team. GO MC...GO UMASS...GO NU!!! :-)

Predictions???

dmjossel
02-22-2011, 06:19 AM
Well, at the beginning of the year, had you told me that MC would be 2 points out of first with 4 games remaining, AND holding the tiebreaker with teams #1, #3, and #4, I would have laughed at you and told you to wake up from that dream.

Same here. In another thread (the all-time best program thread) MC came in one spot ahead of Amherst, which some fans took exception to. I was asked that if someone said before the season started that a team would be #3 in the league with three weeks to go, which would it be: Umass-Amherst or Merrimack? They said Amherst, I said MC.

I am surprised at the extent of the progress, but I'm not surprised that the progress exists, or that the team has exceeded expectations.


But here we are, Feb. 22nd...and this is the exact situation that the Warriors find themselves in...4 games remaining, 8 points at stake...and looking at the possibility of their first ever Hockey East regular season championship (with a little help in the final 2 weeks).

No team outside the "big four" of BC, BU, UNH and UMaine have ever won a regular season HE title.

If Merrimack were to win it, even as co-champions with one, two, or even three of the other top teams this season, it would be the first time a program outside of those won it.

The only team outside of the "big four" to ever win a tournament title is Providence-- twice-- back in 1996 and 1985, the league's first year. (PC was the national runner-up that year as well. Chris Terreri's goaltending can take a team pretty far.) <I><B>EDIT:</B> BoBF reminds me below that NU also won a tourney title, in 1988. So 4/10 teams have an RS title, but 6/10 have at least one tourney title).</I>

If MC were to run the table, they don't need much more help to get a share of the title. In fact, all they'd need would be for BC to get a split or better from UNH the final weekend. That would cap UNH at 41 points, tied with Merrimack. The two teams would be co-champs and MC would be the playoff #1 seed.

If BC gets 3/4 from UNH, then MC would be the sole champ.

If BC sweeps UNH, then BC and Merrimack would be co-champs, and again MC would be the playoff #1 because of the tiebreakers.

Crazy, huh?

If MC can't run the table-- let's say they split at Maine-- then they need more help from Northeastern. They would need NU to take two points from UNH, and then for BC and UNH to split. That ties all three teams at 39 points-- potentially four teams if BU, like MC, runs the table. You'd have four co-champions, but again-- MC wins all the tiebreakers and is the #1 seed, and would end up playing Amherst or Vermont in the first round.

Merrimack needs at least 6/8 points the final two weekends to have a realistic shot at the title, though. Any less and you need serious help from Northeastern against BU and UNH, AND from Amherst against BC.



The Warriors head up to Orono this weekend for a pair of games with the Black Bears, who must be beaming with confidence, especially on the goaltender side, after shutting out UML for 120 minutes. This was a huge confidence boost for them, but will it be enough to fight off one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of 8 straight and 14 of their last 15 games.

Not all the Maine fans seem to think so. Over in the game thread, some felt that most of the success on the weekend was due to Lowell not playing well, although there was some confidence in Sullivan in net.

I'm not sure I really dare for a sweep, but on the other hand I also think a shutout of Merrimack is unlikely. Only Providence has scored fewer league goals than Lowell this year-- just over half as many as Merrimack and UNH and less than about half as many as BC.

I think futility has set in with the River Hawks, and I'm not sure they put forth as much effort as they could have. Hopefully we'll see more, not less, effort from the Warriors than we did against Amherst.


I've been up to Orono for games a handful of times and it's ALWAYS a tough place to play...but then again, I'm not sure the Warriors have EVER had this much talent since joining H.E. or have ever been playing with the confidence that this team is.

The years I made that trip it was nothing short of nightmarish. The fan support was phenomenal, the teams were exceptional. Merrimack was outscored by an aggregate of 12-3 I think (or maybe that was a single game score?)

I remember a Merrimack defenseman asking me as he was loading his equipment bag into the bus after one weekend in the early 90s what I was going to write about the games. He suggested the headline, "Maine Far Superior". I didn't really know what to say, but it was hard to argue with that conclusion looking at the stat sheets, and it was hard to see how the team couldn't be completely disheartened at the results.

Of course, that's what Alfond makes me think of, and there's no reason for this year's Merrimack team to give a **** about that whatsoever, and I hope they don't.


As for predictions, I'd LOVE to say sweep, but if SDC is still out, I feel a sweep is going to be difficult up in that barn, so unfortunately, I'm going to say a pair of close games, MC winning on Friday 4-2 (ENG) and Maine coming back and winning late on Saturday, 3-2. Although I'll continue to hope for a sweep.

I have the same hope. I do think that the offense missed SDC more in the weekend against UMass than they did in the home game against UNH, especially on the power play. It was obvious how much of both the creativity and the shot-generation came from his side of the ice. Without him there, it seemed like there was a lot of puck movement between guys standing pretty still, and a lot of looking for good shots and not enough shooting. SDC finds places to put passes that open up shooting lanes for his teammates, and gets himself open for shots. Even when he doesn't figure in a powerplay tally, his work is taking a toll on the defenders, and you can see that as the play cycles around the defenders get further and further from the puck, stretched until they break. That separation was tougher to get without him in there.

I also think the absence of Ross on defense was no less crucial. If they get either or both back this weekend I think they'll get a big boost. If either or neither of them can make it back this weekend, perhaps it's better to hold them until the first round of the playoffs to make sure they're both ready and rested, rather than risk having a problem in the Providence series.


NOW, if Merrimack was to sweep, they will enter the last weekend of the year sitting no more than 2 points out of first place with 2 to go vs. Providence. With a series between BC and UNH looming, MC has positioned themselves perfectly to win the regular season title...but only time will tell. The picture will be a lot clearer after this weekends series where MC battles UMaine, BC plays a pair with UMass and UNH looks to fend off a VERY hot Northeastern team. GO MC...GO UMASS...GO NU!!! :-)

Predictions???

Tie and a win. And I hope I'm wrong.

And that Northeastern goes on an absolute tear and starts ripping teams up... and that we don't have to play them again-- at least, not until the Garden. I don't want to see them at Lawler, but I'll cheer for them to upset BC.

MCHOCKEY
02-22-2011, 06:51 AM
Would it be fair to say this is the biggest weekend in Merrimack Hockey East history??? I'm starting to think so...2 weeks ago, the UNH series was...now it's this one. Each week from here on out is going to get bigger and bigger...onward and upward :)

BobF
02-22-2011, 06:59 AM
No team outside the "big four" of BC, BU, UNH and UMaine have ever won a regular season HE title.

If Merrimack were to win it, even as co-champions with one, two, or even three of the other top teams this season, it would be the first time a program outside of those won it.

The only team outside of the "big four" to ever win a tournament title is Providence-- twice-- back in 1996 and 1985, the league's first year. (PC was the national runner-up that year as well. Chris Terreri's goaltending can take a team pretty far.)

For the record Northeastern also won the tournament title in 1988 backstopped by Bruce Racine.

dmjossel
02-22-2011, 09:47 PM
For the record Northeastern also won the tournament title in 1988 backstopped by Bruce Racine.

You're right, I don't know how I could have neglected to mention that. NU won the Beanpot and the HE tourney title that year with All-American Bruce Racine in the nets. My apologies.


Would it be fair to say this is the biggest weekend in Merrimack Hockey East history??? I'm starting to think so...2 weeks ago, the UNH series was...now it's this one. Each week from here on out is going to get bigger and bigger...onward and upward :)

Tempting to think that... for all-time MC hockey history, not just Hockey East, there is still the NCAA first round in 1988, where Merrimack, led by Jim Vesey, defeated the Northeastern Huskies in a two-game, total-goals series at Matthews Arena, with Bruce Racine in the nets. I remember my dad yelling down from the balcony down at the Northeastern netminder, "You're losing it, Bruce!".

And then Bruce lost it. I no longer have a tape of that game (more's the pity) but I do remember vividly #21 Mark Ziliotto skating up to the blueline and unloading a slapshot for a goal without an obstruction or tip of any kind; there was no player between him and the cage-- I think the teams may have been changing. I was a kid, and slapshots still seemed impressive, and it was Mark's best feature as a player. Down at one point in the series by 8 goals to 3, they came back to win 10 to 8, with Racine and Northeastern giving up 7 straight unanswered goals in the span of less than two periods, if memory serves.

Until Merrimack at least manages more than just making it to the Garden again-- with a realistic chance to advance to the title game-- and/or wins another NCAA tourney game, I think this match stands as the biggest weekend in all-time MC hockey history. Merrimack wasn't part of Hockey East then, but NU was.

As for Hockey East history, there's still the 1988 upset against BU which put them in the Garden for the first and only time, and gave them a shot at eventual champ BC. So I think I have to put those two games ahead of this weekend's series, still.

A single point from Maine clinches home ice, and that is a big deal-- but doing that is mainly to give yourself an easier road to the Garden, and they've been there once-- the hard way. I think the Maine series is just two more games they need to win in order to get a chance to compete-- to get to the Garden, to get to the title game, to get to an NCAA regional and see what can happen.

MCHOCKEY
02-23-2011, 06:14 AM
I was just informed that Merrimack is 0-18-2 since 1997 AT Maine. Wow. This is an even bigger challenge than I originally thought. Going to be a tough weekend up in Orono...let's hope that MC can not only break that streak, but can do it in dominating fashion!!!

WildShawn
02-23-2011, 07:33 AM
I was just informed that Merrimack is 0-18-2 since 1997 AT Maine. Wow. This is an even bigger challenge than I originally thought. Going to be a tough weekend up in Orono...let's hope that MC can not only break that streak, but can do it in dominating fashion!!!

UNH went winless at Maine from 1985 until 1998. I remember my first trip up to the 'Fond in 97-98 on the old message board under the scoreboard, Maine had a trivia question "Who was president the last time UNH won at Alfond?" (the answer was Regan)... UNH then went on to sweep those two games.... (a 2-1 win the first night with a power play goal in the final minute after which Walsh went after Benedetto in post game and slipped and fell on the ice, and then a 5-0 win the second night with Mark Mowers getting a 3 on 5 shorthanded goal)
UNH had something like a 31 game unbeaten streak over Merrimack from 95-03 (guess on the years) and I think Merrimack broke that with a 7-2 crushing at the Whitt, so the streak has to end eventually, and I reckon this is the year, though I hope its a split at best ;)

Runsub5
02-23-2011, 09:14 AM
Congratulations to Merrimack for a very successful season. Nice to see a lower team in the league rise to the top after many years at the bottom. Great for their school and fan base. I may be wrong , but I don't see Merrimack sweeping Maine. I think it will be a split at best for the Warriors in two closely contested games. Alfond Arena is going to be an exciting place to be this weekend.

Hokydad
02-23-2011, 10:27 AM
This is great for MC and a blast to watch. ton of positive energy and well worth it.... Story of the year.


Now the proverbial but...

Mass has not won agame in last 8 tries. MC had to go ot to win one game, other had to go to OT

No matter what MC does this weekend in Maine, the team is ok./ It all hinges on when SD comes back and if he can get up to speed. To think he can be out 3 or 4 weeks and hop on ice and perform up to his normal level is absurd. It cant and wont happen.
To go deep in playoffs they will need him. To think they can win Hockey East without or at 75% is flawwed.

The point, in my opinion is simple.

No matter what happens in Maine this weekend, so be it. The key here is SD getting back and playing at his level. That would seem tough to do as teams are going to bang him hard the rest of the way.


try and remember, MC beat Umass 11-2 a few weeks before with SD. Without, OT and 2-1

Focus should be on SD being healthy and playing 100%. That is only shot they have to make a fun, deep run

MCHOCKEY
02-23-2011, 10:52 AM
No matter what happens in Maine this weekend, so be it. The key here is SD getting back and playing at his level. That would seem tough to do as teams are going to bang him hard the rest of the way.

try and remember, MC beat Umass 11-2 a few weeks before with SD. Without, OT and 2-1

Focus should be on SD being healthy and playing 100%. That is only shot they have to make a fun, deep run

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I agree with Hokeydad...this isn't going to be the 7-1 type game we saw at MC in January. These 2 games are going to be very close contests...I'll hope for the best (4 points) but go in with a 2 point expectation (with or without SDC).

As for the UMass comparison, yes, 1st game did go to OT, but MC COMPLETELY dominated Umass in game 2 of the weekend series. It just took a spectacular game by UMass' goalie to keep them in it. Look at the stat sheet. 41-16 in shots. Totally dominated at both ends of the ice. Their goalie stood on his head and kept it from being a 6-1 thumping...gotta put the puck in the net more than twice if you expect to win at Maine. GO MACK!!!

Yuppie Scum
02-23-2011, 10:56 AM
the Black Bears, who must be beaming with confidence, especially on the goaltender side, after shutting out UML for 120 minutes.

http://images2.memegenerator.net/ImageMacro/5899789/FIYAR-TIMMAY-Somerthing-something-hardware.jpg?imageSize=Medium&generatorName=Hipster-Ariel

Stevo1091
02-23-2011, 03:01 PM
Alfond Arena is going to be an exciting place to be this weekend.

Unfortunately the student section will be lacking this weekend as spring break starts Friday...

Pucknut
02-23-2011, 03:55 PM
Would it be fair to say this is the biggest weekend in Merrimack Hockey East history??? I'm starting to think so...2 weeks ago, the UNH series was...now it's this one. Each week from here on out is going to get bigger and bigger...onward and upward :)

Yup, that's the way it is when you're near the top with the bullseye on your back. Enjoy it while you can.

BassAle
02-23-2011, 08:43 PM
The alfond crowd sits on its hands and doesn't make a sound most of the game (except for 10 seconds after a goal and the first few seconds of a power play). I remember the days when the opposing team acted like they won the Stanley cup if they won a game at the Alfond. Not so much anymore.

walrus
02-24-2011, 04:56 PM
Any MC fans coming tomorrow, good luck. 5 to 10inches of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain can be expected depending on how close you are to the coast. Doubt the game gets called but it might

irishfan85
02-24-2011, 05:17 PM
Any MC fans coming tomorrow, good luck. 5 to 10inches of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain can be expected depending on how close you are to the coast. Doubt the game gets called but it might

Just checked Accuweather. They said 1-3 inches where yesterday they had said 4-8. The temperatures will be above freezing for much of the day.

Stevo1091
02-24-2011, 07:14 PM
Just checked Accuweather. They said 1-3 inches where yesterday they had said 4-8. The temperatures will be above freezing for much of the day.

National Weather Service says 5 inches South and up to 13 inches North. Orono would fall closer to North than South, so I would expect anywhere from 7-12 inches.

WarriorDJ
02-24-2011, 08:04 PM
Any MC fans coming tomorrow, good luck. 5 to 10inches of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain can be expected depending on how close you are to the coast. Doubt the game gets called but it might
I doubt it too, Warriors will already be up there before the snow starts...

Chickens@NU
02-25-2011, 07:02 AM
I doubt it too, Warriors will already be up there before the snow starts...

As most teams do, I would think that they travel up to Orono the day before (similarly, they would do the same for VT). So I agree with you, they should have been there last night.

irishfan85
02-25-2011, 07:04 AM
As most teams do, I would think that they travel up to Orono the day before (similarly, they would do the same for VT). So I agree with you, they should have been there last night.

Merrimack was up there last night.