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Merrimack hockey ready for prime time

When it comes to Hockey East, it’s rare to hear about a Massachusetts team not named Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern. But here comes Merrimack.

When it comes to Hockey East, it’s rare to hear about a Massachusetts team not named Boston College, Boston University and Northeastern.

But if you take a ride up Route 93 North and hop on Route 495 North for an exit or two, you’ll end up at tiny Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. — the home to this year’s runner-up in the Hockey East Championship.

The new-look Warriors, predicted to finish near the bottom of the Hockey East standings, won a Division I, school-record 25 games. They took the season series against each Hockey East team, except for Providence College, and garnered national attention by reaching fourth in the polls.

It made sense they’d take that momentum all the way to their first-ever Hockey East championship game. Unfortunately for Merrimack, they lost to perennial powerhouse Boston College, 5-2.

But that’s not where the story ends.

“The good news is we continue on,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “I get to coach these young men [this] week, which we are obviously excited about … it would be nice to meet [BC] in the Frozen Four.”

Dennehy is talking about Merrimack’s first NCAA tournament berth. As a No. 2 seed, they’ll play No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Manchester, N.H. If they win, they’ll play the winner of Miami/UNH the weekend after.

“I think it’s important to focus on what we could have done differently [in the loss] and use that in practice this week … and get ready to go in the weekend,” junior forward Ryan Flanigan said.

 
 
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