Hockey East Preview: #3 Merrimack Warriors
2010-11 Storyline: Da Costa, Cannata lead Merrimack to first NCAA tournament berth in 23 years.
2011-12 Storyline: Merrimack able to stay competitive despite loss of Da Costa.
Player To Watch: Joe Cannata
Player Missed Most: Stephane Da Costa
Newcomer To Keep An Eye On: Josh Meyers
Random Fact: Da Costa, a Paris native, majored in French while at Merrimack. I still find that hilarious.
Usual Beer The Triangle Pre-game Spot: The Tap (Haverhill Brewery)
Honestly, it was tough to decide who to pick 3rd between Merrimack and New Hampshire, since they’re both very similar. Both are losing big goal scorers in Da Costa and Thompson. Both have some talented forwards waiting in the wings. Both have the top goaltenders returning in the conference. Merrimack gets the nod because they’re really only losing Adam Ross on defense. So not only do you have a goaltender like Cannata, but virtually everyone in front of him comes back, including up and comers like Jordan Heywood.
On offense it’s easy to point to the fact that the Warriors lose Da Costa, Joe Cucci, and Chris Barton. But the fact is Jesse Todd, Ryan Flanigan, and Mike Collins all scored as many, if not more, goals than those three. Add in a guy like Josh Meyers who was second in the BCHL in goals last season and you have a very potent offense despite the losses. Also, let’s remember that Merrimack had to play a chunk of the season down the stretch without Da Costa, who was injured, and did fairly well. This was just a precursor to what we should expect this season.
They’ll Finish Lower Because: Honestly, they shouldn’t unless a team picked below them plays above and beyond what’s expected.
They’ll Finish Higher Because: The defense lets no one one past them in that postage stamp they call a rink.
Fear The Triangle Fearless Hockey East Predictions
3. Merrimack Warriors
4. New Hampshire Wildcats
5. Maine Black Bears
6. Massachusetts Minutemen (preview 10/5)
7. Vermont Catamounts
8. Providence Friars
9. Northeastern Huskies
10. Lowell River Hawks
UMassathletics has a video featuring this year’s “Navy Seal” training.