Merrimack vs. Maine: Warriors, Black Bears battle for key Hockey East points at Lawler Arena

Junior Sam Marotta will likely make the Saturday start for Merrimack, after impressing at Vermont last week. - John Quackenbos

The Merrimack Warriors and Maine Black Bears meet up at Lawler Arena on Saturday night in the first of a three-game Hockey East series, which continues next weekend in Orono.

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- The Merrimack Warriors and Maine Black Bears meet up at Lawler Arena on Saturday night in the first of a three-game Hockey East series, which continues next weekend in Orono.

This is a very odd quirk in the league schedule as all three meetings in the season series between the teams will be completed in eight days. Saturday's game will be their first head-to-head meeting since Maine captured the deciding third game of the 2012 Hockey East quarterfinals at Alfond Arena.

Neither side was able to come out victorious in the opening half of their weekends on Friday, making the two available points very impoThe Merrimack Warriors and Maine Black Bears meet up at Lawler Arena on Saturday night in the first of a three-game Hockey East series, which continues next weekend in Orono. rtant for both teams.

Black Bears redshirt freshman Bill Norman scored their lone goal to salvage a 1-1 tie at Northeastern's Matthews Arena, while the Warriors were also held to just a single goal (off the stick of senior defenseman Kyle Bigos) in a 4-1 loss to Boston University.

Merrimack enters the night with a 5-5-1 league record for fifth place, three points behind Providence for the final home-ice spot. The Warriors have had Maine's number of late with a 5-2-1 record in the last eight games, including 4-0-1 at home, despite a 63-17-7 disadvantage all-time.

Former Catholic Memorial Knight and Boston native Mike Collins handily leads MC with nine goals and 21 points in 20 games, but was held off the board on Friday for the first time this season in a league game.

The Black Bears enter the first of three straight meetings with a 5-12-3 record, but have compiled just five league points in 11 games. Sophomore Connor Leen leads the team with five goals and ten points, while Dallas Stars draft choice and rookie Devin Shore's seven assists are best on the team.

Junior Martin Ouellette has emerged with the goaltending job for Tim Whitehead's club and has started ten of the last 11 games. The Quebec native and Blue Jackets product is 3-5-3 with a 2.03 goals-against average that leads the conference.

Joshua Kummins covers Hockey East for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

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