Looking at Merrimack hockey’s early schedule |

The Merrimack men’s hockey team will open in October on the road at Clarkson and St. Lawrence before the month finishes up with four out of five games at Lawler Arena.

Let’s take a look at the first month of the season.

Oct. 7 @ St. Lawrence

Oct. 8 @ Clarkson

This should be an excellent trip to open the season on the road in the North Country. If you haven’t been to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, this would be a good road trip for fans. There isn’t much to do around the town, but the rinks are a pair of college hockey classics.

st. Lawrence struggled last season (11-19-7) but took a big step from where they were in Brent Brekke’s first year. From 2017-20, the team won a total of just 18 games.

The Saints played well down the stretch last year and went 6-7-3 over their last 16 games. In the ECAC playoffs, they beat Brown in the first round and lost to Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals, but the Bobcats needed double overtime to take their sticks away in Game 2 of that series.

st. Lawrence was improved defensively and Emil Zetterquist, who I believe is back for a fifth season in goal, is very good. st. Lawrence still struggled to score goals last season but there are some underclassmen who were bubbling up with production from lower in the lineup, including sophomore Justin Paul.

st. Lawrence is an excellent first test for the Warriors, but it’s an opponent they should beat.

Clarkson presents a much tougher challenge. The Golden Knights have been one of the most productive and consistent teams in the nation since 2013 and have won 20 or more games in six out of the last nine seasons. Three of their five double-digit goal scorers return and they have a pair of very good sophomore goaltenders. Jacob Mucitelli transferred to Maine but Ethan Haider returns and they also add Emmett Croteau, a freshman who was just drafted by Montreal. They have seven NHL Draft picks on the roster – including both primary goaltenders.

Oct. 18, vs. New Hampshire

A Tuesday night game will open the home schedule. The Warriors swept UNH in a pair of games last season, winning 5-2 at home on Feb. 4 and then 4-3 on the road on Feb. 26. Zachary Borgiel picked up both wins for the Warriors.

I’ve projected UNH as one of the weakest teams in Hockey East this season. Tyler Ward, their leading scorer, is gone. Jackson Pierson, who was second on the team in scoring, transferred for his fifth season. Filip Engaras, the third leading scorer, has also gone pro.

The top-returning scorer is defenseman Colton Huard, who had 16 points last season.

UNH still has some skill. Kalle Eriksson had a down year last year in terms of overall points, but he’s mobile and dangerous on the back end.

Mike Robinson dominated the minutes in net last year and he graduated, so it will likely be an open competition for playing time that might not be figured out by Oct. 18.

Oct. 21-22, vs. Colgate

Colgate had an interesting year last season. They started off very well – remember, they were off to one of their best starts in years when Merrimack played there on Oct. 15 — and then the middle of the season was really bad before they picked things up in February and closed strong.

Colton Young and Alex Young – two brothers who led the team in scoring last year – are very good. They combined for 25 goals and 63 points.

Goaltender Mitch Benson transferred to Boston College and he’s a big loss (2.39 GAA, .922 save percentage). But, Carter Gylander played well at times last season as well. Benson and Gylander were splitting games early in the year until Benson took over the job.

I think Colgate is a good team. At home though, the Warriors should be looking for at least five out of six points. These teams split last season.

Oct. 28-29, home-and-home vs. UMass

This is a tough way to close out the month, but you have to play UMass at some point, and catching them early in the year might not be a bad thing, especially where the program had some turnover this offseason.

Bobby Trivigno and Josh Lopina both signed pro deals and Garrett Wait is out for the season with an injury. Scott Morrow is going to miss the World Juniors for an unspecified reason, and I assume he’ll be back for the start of the UMass season.

Plus, goaltender Matt Murray is gone. UMass brought in Arizona State transfer Cole Brady (3.89/.900) and so is Ty Farmer, who didn’t provide a lot of offense from the back end but he was a key cog in that unit.

On top of all that roster change, the Minutemen will have two brand new assistant coaches to start the season. So much turnover could create an uneasy first few weeks.

How they’ll do?

In summarizing the month, I’m going to set the bar low and give what I believe should be realistic expectations.

The opening weekend is tough with the Clarkson game on the road. That’s a tough building to play. But, the Warriors should beat St. Lawrence. 1-1.

The Warriors will have the following weekend off before UNH comes to down, and Merrimack should be much better than that team. 2-1.

The Colgate weekend is an interesting one, because I believe that’s a good team. A split is realistic, but at home, aspirations should be higher. 2-1-1.

UMass is still a very good team. But, given the turnover and the turmoil that might create early, a split is a realistic expectation. 3-2-1.

Prediction for the month: 3-2-1.


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