Merrimack’s star freshman, Stephane Da Costa, may be having one of the best rookie seasons the Hockey East has seen in some time. After his game winning goal against Vermont on Saturday, he is currently second in points among all rookies in the country with 35 (13 goals, 22 assists).
Merrimack (13-15-2, 10-11-1 HEA) coach Mark Dennehy is just happy that the talented twenty-year-old center from France is on his side. Da Costa has claimed the Hockey East Rookie of the Month Award all four months of the season and is a strong candidate for the NCAA Rookie of the Year Award.
Dennehy claims that Da Costa may be the best player he has ever coached before. His play has contributed to the Warriors successes, who have won eight conference games for the first time in 13 seasons. Merrimack is also in the Hockey East Tournament hunt, after missing the postseason the past five years.
Da Costa’s success has grabbed the attention of professionals. Dennehy says that he has never seen so many scouts talk to one player as they have with Da Costa. After his five goal outburst against Army, he gained national attention from the National Hockey League and media, making headlines in publications such as Hockey News.
The only concern is that he’s not physically ready for the big leagues. Da Costa stands at 5-foot-1 and around 165 pounds.
UNH wins season series
With Saturday night’s 3-3 tie against Vermont, New Hampshire improved to 15-10-5 overall and 14-5-4 in the conference. UNH took the season series against the Catamounts, 2-0-1. With the tie, the Wildcats secured home ice for the Hockey East quarterfinals for the 14th consecutive season.
UNH came out firing in the first period, outshooting the Catamounts 22-8 and scoring a pair of goals. UVM didn’t go away, skating back to a 3-2 advantage with a trio of goals in the second stanza from Sebastian Stalberg, Matt Marshall, and Colin Vock. In the third period, the Wildcats leveled the score at three with a power-play goal at the four minute, 27 second mark. Peter LeBlanc passed to Mike Borisenok from the high slot who fired a low shot into the net.
In the five-minute overtime, the play was back and forth until the Catamounts were called for a penalty with 19 seconds remaining. The penalty-kill unit kept UNH off the scoreboard. Wildcats goaltender Brian Foster made 26 saves, while his counterpart Rob Madore had 39.
The Wildcats are still atop the Hockey East with 32 points and have a weekend double-header against Northeastern. Vermont is fighting to stay in the tournament picture, currently in ninth place behind Merrimack by one point.
BC junior achieves milestone
Junior Brian Gibbons was one of four Hockey East players to record a hat trick this weekend. Along with his three goals, he also scored his 100th career point. The Eagle from Braintree, Mass. is the 93rd player in BC history to reach the 100-point milestone. Gibbons finished the weekend with 103 points.
The Eagles won 7-1 against Northeastern with 6,180 in attendance at Kelley Rink. BC added four goals in the second frame, before the Huskies got on the board at the end of the period. Freshman Parker Milner had 22 saves for the Eagles, while Terrier goaltender Chris Rawlings stopped 39 of 45 shots.
Michael Counos can be reached at email@example.com.