In the world of sports, there is nothing quite like a rivalry. The intense competition, the fierce passion, and the long-standing history all contribute to making a rivalry one of the most thrilling aspects of the game. In the world of collegiate hockey, one of the most dynamic rivalries can be found between Mercyhurst University and its opponents.
Located in Erie, Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst University is known for its strong athletic programs, particularly in ice hockey. The university’s teams, known as the Lakers, have a storied history of success and a reputation for being tough opponents on the ice. But perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of Mercyhurst’s hockey program is their intense rivalries with other schools.
From the early beginnings to the present day, let’s take a closer look at some of Mercyhurst‘s most notorious rivalries and the impact they have had on the university’s hockey program.
The Early Years
Mercyhurst’s hockey program began in 1987, and it didn’t take long for the team to establish a strong rivalry with nearby Robert Morris University. The two schools, just over 130 miles apart, had a history of competing in various sports, but it was their hockey showdowns that truly captivated fans.
Despite being a relatively new program, Mercyhurst quickly established itself as a hockey powerhouse in the region, making their matchups with Robert Morris even more intense. In the early years, both teams were fairly evenly matched, resulting in intense, back-and-forth games that left fans on the edge of their seats.
But it wasn’t just the games themselves that made this rivalry so significant. Both schools shared a similar identity—small, private, Catholic institutions—making this rivalry an embodiment of David vs. Goliath on the ice.
As the years went on, the rivalry between Mercyhurst and Robert Morris only intensified, with both teams competing for conference titles and the chance to advance to the national tournament. To this day, a game between these two schools is always highly anticipated and guaranteed to be an intense battle on the ice.
An Eerie Rivalry
In addition to their rivalry with Robert Morris, Mercyhurst also has a long-standing history with nearby Gannon University. The rivalry between these two schools is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Erie, as they are both located in the same city.
Similar to their rivalry with Robert Morris, Mercyhurst’s rivalry with Gannon is heightened by the fact that they are both small private institutions with a strong Catholic identity. But what sets this rivalry apart is the close proximity of the two schools. Just a few miles apart, the competition between Mercyhurst and Gannon is felt throughout the entire city of Erie.
The hockey teams from these two schools have been facing off since the early 2000s, with both schools proving to be formidable opponents. In recent years, Mercyhurst has often come out on top, but the intense rivalry remains as both schools continue to compete for conference titles and national recognition.
A New Era of Rivalry
In recent years, a new rivalry has emerged for Mercyhurst, this time with another Catholic school, Canisius College. Located in Buffalo, New York, Canisius and Mercyhurst have only been competing against each other since 2011, but their matchups have quickly become some of the most anticipated games of the season.
What sets this rivalry apart from others is the fact that these two schools have a shared history. Both Mercyhurst and Canisius were previously members of the same conference, making their matchups even more significant. And with both schools being relatively close in location, the intensity of their rivalry is only amplified.
While Canisius has been a formidable opponent for Mercyhurst on the ice, it is off the ice where this rivalry truly shines. The competition between the two schools extends far beyond the hockey rink, as both institutions compete for students, faculty, and recognition in the world of collegiate athletics.
A Legacy of Rivalry
It’s clear that Mercyhurst has a long and rich history of intense rivalries. And while players may come and go, these rivalries remain, shaping the university’s hockey program and adding an extra layer of excitement to each and every game.
From their early beginnings with Robert Morris and Gannon to the emergence of new rivalries with Canisius, Mercyhurst’s hockey program has a legacy of fierce competition and intense passion that will continue to captivate fans for years to come.