Post Game Reax
Mark Dennehy, Merrimack Head Coach
Pat Bowen, Merrimack Defenseman
Mike Machnik also discussed the win with Dennehy and also conducted a very informative interview with athletic director Glen Hofmann, detailing the plans for completing the Lawler Renovations. The interview aired between the first and second periods, but if you were at the game or missed the broadcast, I suggest that you give it a listen.
> Merrimack’s 4-0 start at home is the best start at Lawler Rink since joining Hockey East 21 seasons ago. The Warriors also currently lead Hockey East in goals (22) and are averaging 3.67 goals per game.
> Andrew Braithwaite was terrific in goal for Merrimack, making a bunch of key stops during times (especially in the second period) where UConn was applying heavy pressure. Braithwaite made all the saves he needed to, and even the best goalie in the league wouldn’t have made a save on Hernandez’s goal on the power play. It was sort of a broken play and a nice shot.
> It was clear that Merrimack had more skill than the Huskies. But UConn was able to hang around by working hard, and especially in the second period, out-working the Warriors. Merrimack had just four shots in the second period.
> The Warriors won the battle in the faceoff circle 43-25. UConn is strong in the circle.
> Pat Bowen had a great day for Merrimack, picking up his first goal of the season. Brandon Sadlowski also had a nice day, recorded an assist and nearly netting his first career goal with a wrister off the rush.
> The second period may have been Merrimack’s worst period all season, but the Warriors still found a way to win. I wrote it after the Holy Cross game, but good teams find ways to win games even when they don’t play their best. Merrimack has been a victim of it numerous times over the course of the last five or six years, but the shoe is starting to finally get on the other foot. Why? It’s simple – this is a good Merrimack hockey team. When they play their game and stick to it, they can beat anyone in the league, or anyone in the country, and I mean that.
> The place where the skill improvement is most evident is the power play. The Warriors have done a great job not only moving the puck on the mad advantage, but moving bodies. There is a lot of motion on the power play and UConn and other teams have been confused by it.
> Elliott Sheen has put it in another gear lately. He has two goals in two games and while both have been empty netters, Sheen still led the Warriors with five shots and has created space and has used his speed to create odd-man rushes. Jeff Velleca also had a few chances in front and was dragged down by UConn defenders. That’s another sign of a good team, they were earning power plays by beating defenders and forcing the opposition to take penalties. Jesse Todd had a similar play, dancing around a defender and being hauled down with a hook.
> Francois Ouimet has brought an aggressiveness to his game that I don’t recall seeing much of his first two years. You could tell from his first game that he had a lot of skill, but there has been a noticeable fire lit whether it be on the backcheck or in his own end. He’s scoring lately, too. There were a few instances where he was in faces of some Huskies and almost playing an energy-agitating role at times.
> I’m interested in seeing what happens the first time through the Hockey East schedule. I think Merrimack might be able to catch some Hockey East opponents off guard early in the season. Boston College players might look at MC’s record and still think to themselves that the Warriors are an easy two points. That’s not the case. Merrimack might be able to surprise teams. If you remember, I picked them to finish 8th. Well, right now, if they continue to play they way they have been, this team can contend for home ice. The question is can they keep it up? That all still has to be proven. But, for example, if they continue to play the way they did in the final 40 minutes against Vermont on Friday, then the rest of the league — heck, the rest of the country — better watch out because they’ll be some upsets on the horizon.