Marcus Antonelli – Sports Editor
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack Men’s Hockey found themselves a bit down in the dumps at the winter break. The Warriors were on a three-game losing streak, failing to beat Boston University twice and suffering defeat to the Yale Bulldogs in a surprising 5-2 loss. At a record of 6-9-1, the team saw themselves in a bit of a hole and in desperation to dig themselves out. Safe to say, they’re finding a way.
Coming out of the break, Merrimack has won all three of their games so far. Steamrolling the Brown Bears 5 to 1, Beating Stonehill 3 to 2, and ultimately holding on to beat Holy Cross in overtime 4 to 3. Those wins put the teams record at a comforting 9-9-1 overall.
So some of you may be asking, how is Merrimack buzzing right now?
Warriors Captain Ben Brar credits the winter break to their advantage, “It gave us much needed rest to mentally reset and take a step away from the rink, which really allowed our group to benefit,” said Brar, “We knew how important these three games were coming out of the break, so I think guys put in that extra effort while they were at home to stay in good shape.”
Is it wrong to assume the Warriors are back to form? Let’s look at the numbers, Merrimack’s toughest opponent in this three-game span was Holy Cross, with a record of 9-9-3. Brown only boasts 4 wins, and Stonehill has yet to win a game in their two-year tenure as a D-1 program.
That should not discredit these wins whatsoever. Merrimack had a difficult first semester, especially in Hockey East play. The team endured the worst of their fall semesters since the 2021-22 season, where they began 7-9-1 overall.
Whether the streak is going to stay alive or not, something feels different about this team, “Right now we are starting to play with our identity more. I think we got away from that and it contributed to our frustration in the first half (of this season),” Ben Brar adds, “Also, our special teams have been effective coming out of the break which has been a huge help. Our penalty kill was a huge factor in our win against Holy Cross.”
Indeed it was, Merrimack kept Holy Cross scoreless, 0/5 on their power play. The penalty kill as a whole has been a strong suit for these Warriors. They have yet to allow a power-play goal in the spring semester.
With all this amazing play, one player has certainly emerged into the spotlight. Freshman forward Ty Daneault in his last 9 games has racked up 10 points, winning Hockey East Rookie of the Week for his efforts in that span.
For Daneault, the credit goes to those beside him on the ice “I couldn’t really do it without my teammates and linemates, that chemistry is really helping,” Daneault continues, “and then confidence, I mean confidence is huge especially for a young guy like me so having that trust from my teammates has helped me advance my game.”
Daneault is now 5th on the team in scoring, with 12 points in 18 games total, he leads Merrimack’s freshman class.
Looking ahead, Merrimack is set to face the UMass Amherst Minutemen. This will be their first conference game of the spring semester. For those who remember last year, The two teams split the three-game series early in the year, with Merrimack winning the second game in an OT thriller.
This season, the Minutemen are loaded with ammunition. Right now they’re 11-5-3, and 6th in the Hockey East. Merrimack on the other hand would like to move up in the conference. “We obviously didn’t have the first half we wanted, that being said we have some great competition in our conference,” tells Captain Ben Brar, “if we play to the level we know we can play at, the points and rankings will take care of themselves.”
Merrimack will head out west to Amherst at Mullins Center for a 7 p.m. puck drop. Then they’ll come back for the comforts of home at Lawler Rink to finish out the back-to-back on Saturday at 7 p.m. If you’re a Warriors fan, you hope the boys can get two more. So make sure if you’ve moved in a bit early, head over to Lawler and cheer on the team!
For more coverage on Merrimack Mens Hockey follow me on Twitter (@antonelli7jr) for all things Warriors Hockey. Don’t forget to check out the Beacon Newspaper website for articles on games, players, and more!