NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Good Sunday afternoon and welcome inside J. Thom Lawler Arena on the campus of Merrimack College where the 20th-ranked Warriors are set to finalize the first semester with a matinee against Atlantic Hockey opponent Canisius. Faceoff is set for 4:05 p.m.
The teams are meeting for just the fourth time ever and second here in North Andover today. The Golden Griffins are returning the game as part of a rare non-conference home-and-home series in one season, as Merrimack earned a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Nov. 7.
Nine days ago at UConn, the Warriors erased a 2-0 deficit after the second period and salvaged a 3-3 tie. Senior Justin Hussar, who is one of four skaters sharing the team lead with four goals apiece, scored Merrimack's first 5-on-3 goal of the season 16:23 into the third period to give Merrimack a lead that lasted just over two minutes.
Merrimack has not won since Nov. 13 when it capped a three-game winning streak at UMass, and is 0-3-3 since then. In that span, the Warriors have scored just nine goals and not a single one in the first period.
The Griffs are coming off a split against first-place Robert Morris last weekend, which included a 6-2 home win a week ago yesterday. Junior Shane Conacher, whose brother Cory is Canisius' all-time leading scorer and has played for four NHL teams, leads Canisius with 22 points after notching three in the RMU series finale.
Canisius enters North Andover in search of its first-ever win against a Hockey East team, holding a 0-10-2 mark against the conference. One of the draws came against the Warriors in 2008 while UMass Lowell opposed in the other.
Here are today's lines:
GOLDEN GRIFFINS (5-11-1, 6-5-1 AHC)
Shane Conacher - Ryan Schmelzer - Ralph Cuddemi
Joshua Gabriel - Mike Sabatini - Matt McLeod
Josh Supryka - Jeff Murray - Nolan Sheeran
Felix Chamberland - Dylan McLaughlin - Daniel LaFontaine
Jack Stander - Alex Jaeckle
Cameron Heath - Geoff Fortman
Matthew Backhouse - Jimmy Mazza
WARRIORS (6-4-5, 2-3-5 Hockey East)
Jace Hennig - Brian Christie - Ben Bahe
Hampus Gustafsson - Ludvig Larsson - Chris LeBlanc
John Gustafsson - Derek Petti - Mathieu Foget
Craig Wyszomirski - Michael Babcock - Alfred Larsson
Marc Biega - Alex Carle
Jared Kolquist - Aaron Titcomb
Ethan Spaxman - Jonathan Lashyn