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Previewing the Warriors First Round NCAA Playoff Matchup; The Quinnipiac Bobcats. 

Marcus Antonelli

Staff Writer

The Warriors season isn’t over just yet. This past weekend has been quite a rollercoaster for Merrimack, playing back to back games in an effort to try and win the Lou Lamoriello Trophy to be crowned Hockey East champions. As many of you know, The results were short of the team’s goal. 

While the loss still stings for Jordan Seyfert, he can’t help but admit that being at TD was an amazing experience itself. “It meant everything to me, after being here for five years and seeing the change that we have made to this school. I think we put Merrimack back on the map,” Seyfert emphasizes, “I’ve been through a lot personally here at Merrimack and to come back stronger, and be on the biggest stage is the only thing I’ve ever wanted for this school. It was truly a special experience.” 

Now the boys have to shake off the past few exhilarating days and get back to work as they’re taking on Quinnipiac in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. This squad is a force to be reckoned with in many aspects. The Bobcats are 30-4-3, those 4 losses are the least tallied by a team this year. Making them second place in the entire country. From a team perspective Quinnipiac has the second least penalty minutes behind Stonehill, who only played ten games this season.

Their offense is like a minigun: averaging almost 4 goals per game behind Lincoln, Mass’s own Collin Graf. Who is 1st in assists (35) and 2nd in the nation in points (55). Averaging a point a game, which is extraordinary.

Another X factor of this Quinnipiac squad is their star goaltender: Yaniv Perets. He has a GAA of 1.52, the lowest in the country. Which means he averages a little under 2 goals allowed (Less is more). He’s 4th in Save Percentage (.929) and has 9 shutouts, making him second in the NCAA. Oh and he’s played every single game for the Bobcats this season. For a goalie, this consistency at playing every single game in a season is unheard of in hockey. 

Oh and both are Top 10 Hobey Baker Finalists

Image via QU Athletics

Now all this may scare you as a fan but the message of Mission Merrimack still beats in the hearts of the players. Particularly Captain Ben Brar who is the cornerstone of this veteran group, knows what to expect. “We can’t think of the loss too much with such a quick turn around ahead. We’re preparing to play a very good Quinnipiac team,” states Brar, “we can’t make the game into a bigger spectacle than it is, but it will definitely be a special moment playing in the tournament.”

What Merrimack has, that no one else has, are among a great many things. Veteran Leadership: with 5 of their top 6 scorers being upperclassmen. Along with 2 reliable goaltenders in Hugo Ollas and Zachary Borgiel. They go 4 lines deep. And despite the championship loss, they’re battle tested, with their past three playoff games going into overtime. They play a perfect old school, defensive game that could wear out the Bobcats. 

One can also argue the strength of schedule. Merrimack played in the much tougher Hockey East Conference while Quinnipiac steamrolled the ECAC and has been for years. The only team that really gave them a run for their money in the division was Colgate, who not only beat them in the regular season, but ruined the Bobcats’ chance at an ECAC title. This however should not discredit how lethal Quinnipiac’s Hockey Team is.

“Our hope is that this run makes Merrimack a recruiting destination school,” says Coach Scott Borek, “We always wanted to compete with the best, not only in the hockey east but nationally.” Ben Brar stated the team has one goal that they can realistically hit. “We are showing up to Bridgeport with the intention of leaving with a Frozen Four birth.” The Warriors will play Quinnipiac this Friday at 5:30 on ESPNews.

The sky’s the limit.

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