December 8, 2013

College Wraparound: Merrimack earns three-point weekend

By Joshua Kummins

Jordan Heywood and Merrimack skated to a 1-1 tie with the Terriers at Agganis Arena. (Photo: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

BOSTON -- Fresh off their first Hockey East conference victory of the season at home on Friday, the Merrimack Warriors (4-9-2, 1-5-2) returned to enemy territory on Saturday night and skated a leg up on the host Boston University Terriers (7-7-2, 2-4-1) for much of the evening in a building that has given them much trouble since its opening in 2005.

Merrimack, which entered the night 2-15-1 at Agganis Arena, held a mighty 39-24 shots on goal advantage, and completed a solid three-point weekend against the Terriers as the teams skated to a 1-1 stalemate.

"I thought it was a good weekend for us," Warrior head coach Mark Dennehy said. "When you get three points off a league opponent, it's a positive. ... I thought we established our forecheck and had the puck for most of both of (the first) two periods."

The Terriers made a quick jump into the lead at 1:47 as junior Evan Rodrigues held up on a shot from the top of the left circle, slid down the wing and snapped off a beauty of a wrister top corner on Merrimack sophomore Rasmus Tirronen. Former Malden Catholic Lancer Brendan Collier (Charlestown, Mass.) achieved a personal milestone on the play as he was credited with the secondary assist - his first point in a Terrier sweater.

"I think we bring a lot of our own problems onto ourselves," commented Dennehy. "That first goal was a perfect example of that, but I thought, overall, we played a lot smarter. I thought we were prepared to play a hockey game, both games this weekend."

Much of the period was dominated territorially by the Warriors though as they held had 24 total attempts with 15 of them coming on goal, while blocking nine of the Terriers' 15.

The visitors started the middle stanza in a similar fashion, taking the first nine shots on goal and finding the equalizing goal at the 5:53 mark. Freshman Chris LeBlanc (Winthrop, Mass.) netted his second goal of the season, beating BU's Matt O'Connor through a screen.

Both sides had some great opportunities in a scoreless third period and actually played to a 10-10 stanza in shots on goal, before the Terriers dominated the overtime session with six of the eight shots and nine of the 12 total chances.

Neither side could find the back of the net in the third period or the extra frame, and the game resulted in just the seventh stalemate in the series' history, which dates back to 1966.

Merrimack held shot advantages of 15-3 and 12-5 in the first and second frames, so the effort to come back with serious threats to take a late lead showed BU bench boss David Quinn something positive for sure.

"I liked the way that we kind of rebounded and found our way after the first two periods," Quinn said. "I don't know if I have seen us that flat or that emotionless as we were in the first 35-36 minutes of the game. ... It's hard in the middle of a hockey game to all of a sudden become enthusiastic and play with passion, but I thought we did that tonight."

Sophomore Sean Maguire was scheduled to make the start in goal for BU, but lingering back issues put a halt to that plan. In his sixth consecutive start, O'Connor was stellar with 38 saves.

Boston College 2, New Hampshire 1

Senior Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, Mass.) lifted the No. 9 Eagles (10-4-2, 6-1-1 Hockey East) to the holiday break on a positive note, scoring the game-winner in the closing stages of the middle period for a crucial road win at Whittemore Center. Junior Johnny Gaudreau also continued his stellar stretch, collecting an assist to extend his point-scoring streak to 11 games (10-10=20). Junior Matt Willows scored the lone goal of the night for the Wildcats (9-9-1, 5-6-0), which dropped back to the even .500 mark entering the break.

Massachusetts 3, Notre Dame 2

After a solid road effort ended in a 5-3 defeat on Friday night at Compton Family Ice Arena, the Minutemen (4-11-2, 2-7-2 Hockey East) used a goal from senior Adam Phillips with 2:47 left in the third period for a 3-2 win over the 13th-ranked Irish (10-7-1, 3-4-1). Junior Steve Mastalerz (North Andover, Mass.) broke a five-game losing streak with a 33-save effort between the pipes for UMass.

Harvard 2, Yale 2 (OT)

The defending national champion Bulldogs (6-3-3, 2-6-2 ECAC Hockey) staged a two-goal comeback in the third period, but a career-high 52 saves from stopper Raphael Girard helped the Crimson (4-7-2, 2-6-2) muster their first point from Ingalls Rink since 2007 in a 2-2 stalemate. Freshmen Alex Kerfoot and Luke Esposito scored both of Harvard's goals in the second period, while stud senior Kenny Agostino returned to form with the equalizer at 14:19 of the third.

Union 6, Quinnipiac 4

The Bobcats (13-3-3, 6-2-2 ECAC Hockey) ended up on the wrong side of a contest that saw the lead change five times at Messa Rink in Schnectady, N.Y. Sophomore Travis St. Denis and junior Bryce Van Brabant each scored a goal and an assist, but their efforts were not enough to halt the Dutchmen (10-3-2, 7-1-0) in their move to tie QU at the top of the ECAC standings with 14 points.

Brown 3, Dartmouth 2 (OT)

Sophomore Nick Lappin scored twice in the third period and rookie Kyle Kramer netted the winner at 1:58 of overtime as the Bears (5-6-1, 3-4-1 ECAC Hockey) completed a three-goal comeback to take down the visiting Big Green (2-9-0, 2-7-0) at Meehan Auditorium. Sophomores Brad Schierhorn and Nick Bligh (Milton, Mass.) scored their first goals of the season in the opening stanza for the Big Green in its second loss of the year to the ancient rivals from Providence, R.I.

Bentley 7, Robert Morris 2

Sophomore Andrew Gladiuk scored twice and added a trio of assists as the Falcons (7-7-1, 6-2-1 Atlantic Hockey) completed a home sweep of RMU (2-10-1, 2-5-1) at Ryan Skating Arena in Watertown, Mass. Northfield Mount Hermon product Brandon Komm made 32 saves for his 35th-career win, a mark which ties the school record set by Barratt Davison in 1984. The Falcons will look to bring the momentum into its first-ever date with Hockey East stalwart Boston University next Saturday night.

Air Force 3, Holy Cross 3 (OT)

The Crusaders (4-9-2, 3-4-2 Atlantic Hockey) and Falcons (7-5-4, 4-2-3) tied for the second game in as many nights at Hart Center. Holy Cross second-year Brett Lubanski posted a multi-point game with a goal and an assist, while junior Matt Ginn stopped 29 shots in the draw.

Connecticut 2, Niagara 1

The Huskies (6-5-2, 5-2-1 AHA) pulled out the brooms against the visiting Purple Eagles (3-11-1, 3-4-1) in a Freitas Ice Forum matinee, thanks to the second game-winning goal in as many nights from Shawn Pauly. Senior Matt Grogan posted seven saves in each period to earn his fifth win.

Mercyhurst 4, Sacred Heart 1

Junior Drew George scored at 9:05 of the second period, but Big Red (4-12-0, 3-7-0 Atlantic Hockey) dropped its fourth decision in as many games and suffered a weekend sweep at the hands of the host Lakers (9-7-1, 7-1-0) in Erie.

RIT 5, American International 2

The Yellow Jackets (3-10-0, 3-6-0 Atlantic Hockey) drew first blood and received a goal and an assist from junior Alexander MacMillon, but three Tigers (6-7-2, 5-3-0) goals in the third period did in the visitors at Ritter Arena.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins