Merrimack and the Long Road Back
On December 8th, 2017 it was shaping up to be another long season for the Warriors. Merrimack’s record was 2-9-3, with no bright spots to be found. Since then, however, it appears that the Warriors have turned a corner and are heating up in the Hockey East. Since that day, Merrimack is 4-2-1 and sits ninth in Hockey East standings with a measly 8 points. If this hot pace can continue, the Warriors may be making a run. Seniors Jace Hennig and Brett Seney have been tearing it up and leading the team with nineteen points. The Warriors will be leaning heavy on their veterans. But overall they need to step up and deliver.
The early months of the season did not bring many good moments for the Merrimack Warriors. The team limped out of the gates in October with only one win in seven games. They finished 1-5-2 in the first month of the season. The only silver lining is five of those games were against tough, non-conference teams. The list includes Colgate, Wisconsin, and Minnesota-Duluth. November did not fare any better with two losses to Boston College and a loss to Providence College. The Warriors ended the month blowing a 5-1 lead against the Friars, finishing with a 6-6 overtime tie. Merrimack was on fire to begin the game but could not keep it all together.
December is where tough teams continue to fight it out, and the rest are left behind. The Warriors are surprising everyone as of late. Following two losses to the mighty Northeastern, Merrimack scored big wins over Army and the University of New Hampshire. A tie against Northeastern kept the momentum rolling and led to a win over Denver. Merrimack ended the month on a sour note with a loss to Colorado College. There is no denying that Merrimack is no longer an “easy win”.
The Warriors have started the month of January off with a 1-1-0 record. The schedule does not let up with Boston University on the horizon. However, UConn, Vermont, UMaine, and UMass Amherst are coming up. All those programs have been struggling. Merrimack could make up ground in the Hockey East Standings and shock the college hockey world.
Jace Hennig, Brett Seney, and Jared Kolquist must continue to produce. If Merrimack wants to survive in Hockey East they must meet the challenge. Craig Pantano has been an unsung hero in Hockey East. Though 6-6-2 is not that impressive, his 2.42 GAA and .915 Sv % are nothing to sneeze at. The junior should receive the most time between the pipes for the rest of the season. If he can continue to improve, the Warriors will be in it for the long haul. Merrimack’s biggest fan, Mike Babcock, father of junior Michael Babcock, will be there to see the Warriors making a run.
Follow Matt McGurn on Twitter: @MickGurn