The fifth-seeded University of Maine Black Bears hockey team (17-10-7 overall, 14-8-5 in Hockey East), will have its hands full at the sold-out Lawler Arena when it faces off against No. 4 Merrimack College (22-8-4, 16-8-3 HE) in their best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series beginning Friday night. All games start at 7:30.
Merrimack has won four of the last six games between the two at Lawler Arena including a 7-1 victory on Jan. 8.
Maine avenged that loss with 4-0 and 7-1 wins in Orono on Feb. 25-26. However, Merrimack was without 2009-2010 Hockey East Rookie of the Year and French Olympian Stephane Da Costa, who had a knee injury.
—— Here are the three keys to victory for each team:
1. The Bears must match Merrimack’s intensity and physicality.
2. They have to win the battles in front of each net.
3. They have to get solid goaltending from freshman Dan Sullivan.
1. The Warriors have to contain the high-powered line of Tanner House between Brian Flynn and Gustav Nyquist.
2. They have to play with discipline. They are the most penalized team in college hockey and can’t afford to let their emotions result in frequent trips to the penalty box. Not only does Maine have a hot power play (7 for its last 17), the wear and tear that comes with killing penalties could be telling in a long series
3. Pepper freshman goalie Sullivan, who is untested in the playoffs.