EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 26, 2013

Merrimack needs win tonight at BU

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON — In the second of four games to be played in an eight-day span, Merrimack College hockey is looking to score a victory against the only Hockey East opponent tonight, Boston University, a team it has not yet beaten this season. In fact, B.U. has beaten Merrimack twice already.

The sweep, though, doesn’t really matter. Merrimack needs a win if it wants to stay in the “NCAA Tournament” discussion.

Sunday’s loss to Boston College, one of the best teams in the country, was a costly one. Merrimack lost a chance to move into the top 14 teams in the country according to college hockey’s computerized rating service (PairWise), instead dropping to 23rd.

Usually, the top 14 teams are guaranteed a spot into the 16-berth tournament. The point is Merrimack needs to creep closer inside of the Top 16 and a win tonight will help make that happen.

But it won’t be easy, despite B.U.’s struggles — it was swept by UMass Lowell this past weekend, 3-0 and 3-1, and 2-7-2 over its last 11 games against league opponents — as Merrimack is 2-12-1 at Agganis Arena, the last win being a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 11, 2011.

Merrimack is 15-77-6 lifetime against the Terriers.

Hockey East playoff picture

After the O.T. loss to B.C., Merrimack fell to fourth in Hockey East, one point behind Providence, UNH, and Boston College for first. The Warriors lead Lowell by one point and BU by three. Merrimack fell from 17th to 23rd in the PairWise rankings.

Streaking Warriors

Merrimack had its five-game winning streak at Lawler snapped by B.C. on Sunday. They are now 7-2-2 in their last 11 games. The Warriors are 4-1-2 in their last seven league road games.

Bates anchoring second line

Shawn Bates, who scored the lone goal against BC and set up both goals in the tie with Providence, has seven points in his last five games and has anchored the second line during Merrimack’s surge. Bates is tied for second on the Warriors in goals with six.

Lawler is ‘their’ house

After struggling early, the Warriors are 5-1 in their last six at Lawler and are 8-5-3 at home this season and 43-15-8 in their last four seasons. Merrimack has sold out nine games this season.