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A French connection for HEA’s Merrimack

Hardly a traditional power in Hockey East, Merrimack has to fight for everything it gets in the league.<p></p>

Hardly a traditional power in Hockey East, Merrimack has to fight for everything it gets in the league.

It’s been a rough year for the Warriors, who are sitting in the HEA cellar. But they do have a bright spot — from the most unlikely of sources.

Paris, France, native Stephane Da Costa is Merrimack’s top scorer — and the college game’s newest star.

Most schools look to Canada for international talent, so Da Costa snuck under plenty of teams’ radars. Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy seized the opportunity.

“They were the first team that talked to me,” Da Costa said in an e-mail.?“All of a sudden, a lot of teams were talking. ... But I liked the small community at Merrimack.”

He’s made the teams that missed him pay, with 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 17 games played. He’s the No. 8 overall scorer in HEA despite size (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) that has reportedly scared off NHL teams in the draft.

Da Costa made his name early, scoring five goals in the Warriors’ 6-3 win over Army on Oct. 17. In November, he found the net in three consecutive games against BU and BC.

He’s not the only Frenchman making waves in New England: Baptiste Bataille has been key in Northeastern basketball’s nine-game win streak.