Ice Chips: Merrimack an Early Surprise in College Hockey

Ice Chips: Merrimack an Early Surprise in College Hockey The biggest surprise through the first month of the Hockey East season is Merrimack College. The Warriors are out to a 5-3-0 start with all five wins coming at home, which ties the total amount of victories they had at Lawler Arena all of last season.

Merrimack defeated Boston College on Sunday for the first time since 2003 and currently sits in a tie for third place in Hockey East with four points.

The Warriors are led on offense by junior forward Chris Barton, whose seven goals this season are tops in the conference. Barton’s 10 points tie teammate Stephane Da Costa for third most in Hockey East.

Da Costa, who was recently named Hockey East Rookie of the Month for October, has posted six goals and four assists through six games this season. Five of his six goals came in his second collegiate game, when he notched a natural hat trick in the first period against Army.

Merrimack is averaging 3.75 goals per game this season, which ranks second in Hockey East behind UMass-Amherst. The Minutemen are also off to a good start with a 4-1-0 record and sit atop the conference with six points.

The Warriors’ first loss of the season came at the hands of the Providence Friars on Saturday night. Friars sophomore goalie Alex Beaudry made a career-high 47 saves in the 2-1 win. He was named Hockey East Goaltender of the Month, finishing October with a 4-2-0 record, a 2.01 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. Since joining the Friars halfway through last season, Beaudry has gone 8-12-4 with a 3.13 GAA in 24 starts, but more importantly, he has given Providence some stability in net.

Beaudry and Da Costa were joined by Amherst junior forward James Marcou in rounding out the monthly honors. Marcou earned Player of the Month after tallying two goals and a nation-best nine assists in October. He is averaging 2.2 points per game this season, a mark that also leads the nation, and he has scored 90 points in 80 games at UMass. Marcou ranked fourth in Hockey East with 47 points last season and has developed into one of the conference’s top players.

Marcou is one of two players to watch this week; the other is Maine sophomore forward Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist is currently on a six-game point streak and has posted 11 points this season, which ties him with Marcou for first in Hockey East. Nyquist got off to a similar start last season, scoring 10 points in his first nine games and finishing the season with 32 points, second among Hockey East freshmen. He will be heavily relied upon in Orono this season, as a very young Black Bears team continues to rebuild.

Games to Watch
Boston College travels to New Hampshire on Friday to take on the Wildcats at the Whittemore Center. The Wildcats will be looking for revenge in this rematch of last season’s Hockey East quarterfinals, where the Eagles swept the best-of-three series.

The BU Terriers will head over to the newly-renovated Matthews Arena to face the Northeastern Huskies on Friday. This cross-town rivalry heated up last season, when the Terriers defeated the Huskies to claim the Beanpot Championship.

Northeastern’s weekend doesn’t get any easier, as it then heads up Comm. Ave to the Heights to square off against BC on Saturday night.

NESN.com’s Andi Shaughnessy will run down the top story lines, games and plays of the week that was, while also offering a glimpse into the weekend ahead.

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