NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Good evening and welcome inside J. Thom Lawler Arena on the campus of Merrimack College where the Warriors are set to welcome in their local rivals, the No. 7 UMass Lowell River Hawks, in the Hockey East opener for both teams. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.
Both teams enter the night, their 118th all-time meeting, with perfect records in the early going. The Warriors opened their season with a home sweep of North Country foes Clarkson and St. Lawrence while the River Hawks dispatched Colorado College in a pair of one-goal games at Tsongas Center.
Merrimack jumped out to a strong start last weekend, remaining unbeaten in their last eight home games against the ECAC. The Warriors completed the sweep with a 3-1 win over the Saints, a night after their highest scoring output since 2011 in a 7-1 win over Clarkson.
Senior forward Brian Christie and defenseman Matt Cronin were each named Hockey East Top Performers for their efforts last week. Cronin's first collegiate goal early in the second period eventually stood up as the winner in Friday's rout while Christie followed up a three-assist night with a goal on Saturday.
Christie, Cronin, senior Ben Bahe and sophomore Aaron Titcomb all had three-point nights in last week's opener after the Warriors did not see one such effort all of last year.
The River Hawks have won their first three games of the season for just the sixth time in their Division 1 history and would match their best start with a win tonight. Senior Ryan McGrath scored both game-winning goals in last weekend's series, which was capped off by a 2-1 win over the winless Tigers.
Senior goaltender Kevin Boyle had a strong showing in Lowell's first back-to-back games of the season, stopping 39 of the 42 shots he faced en route to Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Tonight's game features two of the eight teams in college hockey with perfect penalty kills to start the year. The River Hawks have killed all 12 of their penalties through three games while the Warriors held opponents scoreless on seven power-play tries last weekend.
Here are tonight's lines:
RIVER HAWKS (3-0-0)
A.J. White - Evan Campbell - Ryan Dmowski
Ryan Collins - Michael Fallon - Ryan McGrath
Connor Wilson - Nick Master - Adam Chapie
C.J. Smith - Joe Gambardella - John Edwardh
Tyler Mueller - Niklas Folin
Tommy Panico - Chris Forney
Dylan Zink - Michael Kapla
Justin Hussar - Brian Christie - Ben Bahe
Jace Hennig - Brett Seney - Mathieu Tibbet
John Gustafsson - Hampus Gustafsson - Chris LeBlanc
Alfred Larsson - Michael Babcock - Mathieu Foget
Marc Biega - Jonathan Lashyn
Jared Kolquist - Ethan Spaxman
Matt Cronin - Aaron Titcomb