NORTH ANDOVER — For the third time in the past four postseasons, the Merrimack College men’s ice hockey team will face off against the University of Maine, as the Warriors head to Orono to battle the Black Bears in a winner-take-all, Hockey East Tournament Opening Round showdown tonight at Alfond Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m.
Meeting for the 92nd time, Merrimack and Maine continue a heated rivalry that was sparked by back-to-back meetings in the Hockey East Quarterfinals during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Despite owning just a 19-64-8 mark against the Black Bears, the Warriors have controlled the series over the last four years with a 7-4-2 mark in their last 13 showdowns. This season, Maine came out on top of both regular season meetings by a goal (2-1, 3-2). All-time at Alfond Arena, Merrimack has gone just 8-38-3.
Merrimack and Maine have squared off in eight previous playoff meetings, with the Black Bears winning 5 of 8.
After losing a single-elimination showdown by a 7-0 score in 1992, the Black Bears swept a best-of-three series in 2004 in a pair of one-goal contests before the two teams met in back-to-back years in 2011 and 2012.
The Black Bears
Pegged to finish eighth in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Maine exceeded those expectations for the most part after finishing the regular season with a 15-13-4 record and sixth in the league standings.
Sophomore forward Devin Shore has been one of the nation’sbest this winter with 40 points. In net, senior Martin Ouellette owns a 2.29 GAA (20th nationally).