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Warriors to take on Catamounts in battle for 9th place in Hockey East

Marcus Antonelli (Sports Editor)

The Warriors have a good chance to gain momentum in the final stretch of the regular season. 

Merrimack will take the buses up to Burlington, Vermont where the team will take on the Vermont Catamounts in a two game series, both at the Gutterson Fieldhouse.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Getting into the final stretch of the season was a bumpy one for MC.

The Warriors suffered a tragic 7-1 loss down in Boston against the No. 3 Terriers this past friday. It all seemed doom and gloom again until 24 hours later, they defeated the UNH Wildcats 3-1 in the comforts of Lawler Rink.

That snapped a seven game losing streak that started back on January 19th, when MC lost 6-4 to the No. 1 Boston College Eagles. 

Merrimack, through the past 4 weeks, has seen an abundance of lineup changes. Which is nothing new, injuries have been persistent all season. 

In this recent losing streak, the bruises went from bad to worse, all beginning with Alex Jefferies going down in the Warriors last win (up to that point) against UMass (1/13). 

From there, Merrimack Head Coach Scott Borek had to draw up some interesting lineup charts, especially this past weekend. When you thought the lines would get a little better, they did, and then they didn’t.

Alex Jefferies, after a months absence, made his return to the lineup to play in his 100th and 101st collegiate games alongside graduate forward Chase Stevenson. Both had missed significant time and were much needed additions to the top six. 

However, there were still open holes in the roster sheet, this time on the back end. Sophomore defenseman Zach Bookman and Christian Felton weren’t in for the defense. Felton was later revealed OUT for the season and Bookman is hopeful to return soon.

Here is the Warriors most recent injury report (From Thursdays practice.)

If MC wants to rise in the Hockey East, this is the weekend to do it. The Warriors, at 10th place, are not that far behind Vermont. These are the current projected Hockey East standings from Mike McMahon (thanks for these Mike, you’re the goat.)

ABOUT THE CATAMOUNTS

Vermont has been hovering around the Top 30 in the National Pairwise Rankings. They’re currently ranked 28th in the pairwise (11-12-3), and tied for 8th in the Hockey East (5-8-3) with the resurging Northeastern Huskies.

Earlier in the season, the Catamounts went 6-2-0 in December, going on a five game win streak within that span. They highlighted a sweep against the CCHA contending St. Thomas Tommies. 

Since then, Vermont has gone 2-5-2. Both games against UMass Lowell in this past weekend went to the shootout, in which Vermont won both.

Vermont currently boasts a top-20 goals against average (2.66) in the entire country. Starting goaltender Gabe Carriere leads the team in the crease with a .914 save percentage. 

The Catamounts have a well balanced scoring sheet, led by sophomore forward Jens Richards (9g-8a-17p) and graduate defenseman Jeremie Bucheler (6g-10a-16p).

WARRIORS TO WATCH

Some notable bright spots on the team recently are among the likes of Graduate forward Filip Forsmark. Who as of recent, has been amazing in creating turnovers through his relentless forecheck. He has a goal and an assist in his last two games. 

Not to forget, Junior forward Matt Copponi (7g-23a-30p) has still been stellar. Already surpassing his career high last year, he’s evolved his game even further than it already is. 

Last year, the Edmonton draft pick proved to be an effective scorer. This year, however, he’s been a creator. 11 different teammates have scored a goal on account of Copponi’s assists. Despite the team’s woes, he still remains in the top-ten conference scoring leaders. 

HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING…

If the Warriors sweep the Catamounts, they’ll receive six points and take the 9th seed in the conference from them. With that, they’d be on a three game win streak with some good momentum heading into the last three games of the regular season. If you’re Merrimack, now is the time.

For more coverage on Merrimack Men’s Hockey follow Marcus (@antonelli7jr) on Twitter (X) for all things Warriors Hockey. Don’t forget to check out the Beacon Newspaper website for articles on games, players, and more!

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