Matt LaMalfa, ’12, Associate Sports Editor
Going the final weekend of the regular season, Merrimack needed three points to secure a home ice position in first round action of the Hockey East playoffs. After a disappointing loss to the UMASS Minutemen in Amherst on Friday, the Warriors had to hope New Hampshire would beat or tie Maine on Saturday afternoon. This would give the Warriors another chance to clinch home ice with a win. Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be, as the Black Bear prevailed 1-0 on Saturday afternoon and clinched the final home ice spot just minutes before the Warriors took the ice for what would become the season finale at Lawler Arena.
It would’ve been easier for the team to mail it in at this point since there was no movement in the standings possible from the result of this game. There was motivation though since it was the last home game for the most successful senior class in Merrimack’s division one history. Honored before the game were Simon Demers, Karl Stollery, Carter Madsen, Elliott Sheen, Jesse Todd, Ryan Flanigan, Jeff Velleca and Joe Cannata. After falling behind early, the squad rallied to finish their senior’s home career with a win. Josh Myers, Shawn Bates and Ryan Flanigan all scored within six minutes of the third period and Rhett Bly tacked on a late empty net goal to give the Warriors a record of 17-10-7 to finish the season.
The Warriors will now head to the University of Maine in Orono for the best-of-three Hockey East Quarterfinal games. This is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals though the sites are reversed. A year ago Merrimack swept Maine out of Lawler Arena to reach the TD Garden but if the Warriors are going to get by the Black Bears this season they will have to do it in the hostile environment of Alfond Arena. Merrimack came home with a victory in their only other visit to Alfond this season, downing the Black Bears 2-1 on opening night.