I am so thrilled to report that Merrimack hockey is back in the Hockey East playoffs for the first time since 2003-04. All of the hard work, sweat, and sacrifice has paid off for the Warriors and as a result, Merrimack will skate against Boston University in the first round of the playoffs which begins on Friday evening at Agganis Arena in Boston. I am thrilled for Coach Dennehy, his coaching staff, and all the players, particularly the seniors.
Merrimack has never won in this building, but I don't think that that matters now. It all comes down to execution and Merrimack has been one of the hottest teams in Hockey East coming down the stretch. BU will in all likelihood be the favorite to win, but if you talk to Coach Jack Parker of the Terriers, he speaks in glowing terms about how good Merrimack is and how he is not looking forward to seeing the blue and gold in this series.
These teams played three times in the regular season. On November 13 at Merrimack, the Warriors won 6-3, snapping a long losing streak against the Terriers. The next night, BU scored four in the first and went on to win 6-4. The teams then played on January 16 at BU with the Terriers winning again, 6-4. If the regular season is any indication, these playoffs should be fun to watch.
Incidentally, this will be my first playoff series since joining Hockey East five years ago, and I couldn't be more excited.
There will be some other great series too. Vermont plays at New Hampshire, Massachusetts goes to Boston College, and UMass Lowell will head to Maine. I think Massachusetts could upset BC, although not likely. Both teams are playing great hockey (UMass just swept Maine in Orono this weekend) and BC is hitting their stride too (they nearly swept UNH if not for a bad third period on Friday night). Maine is struggling right now and could have it's hands full with Lowell, that will be interesting. Vermont always plays UNH tough too. Don't be surprised if that series goes the distance. In fact, don't be surprised if all three go the distance.
Northeastern and Providence missed the playoffs this season. It is a shame that someone had to miss out, but the way this season went, with a great race to the end, someone was bound to be disappointed. It's hard to imagine a postseason without the Northeastern Huskies in it. And my hats go off to Providence, who battled hard on Saturday night and fought tooth and nail all the way. I hope the Friars get back in the show next season. I love the folks there.
Thanks for your time everyone. It's time for playoff hockey. Go Merrimack! I'll have more from BU next week!