Reactions: Merrimack continues to show its heart in OT win


Here we go again.

You know the cliches. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” Merrimack might be one of the smallest schools in Division I hockey, but the Warriors are yet again proving to be fighters down the stretch.

Merrimack started its second half with a win over Denver last weekend. Now tonight, the Warriors come from behind with 90 seconds left to tie the score, and then the Warriors win it in overtime, 3-2, over UConn at the XL Center in Hartford.

Battling back after a slow start. Sound familiar?

Merrimack is now 4-1-1 in its last six games and 5-4-2 since beginning the season 1-6-2. If Merrimack started the season 5-4-2, no one is talking about a “disappointing” season in North Andover. Fact is, over the last 10 games, the Warriors are playing like a top-20 team, beating Denver, tying Northeastern, beating UNH and tying Providence — in a game they should have won had they held onto a 5-1 lead.

Merrimack is finally playing like the team many thought it was in the preseason. And once again, the Warriors’ season could come down to an electric second half.

Merrimack closed its regular season last year on an 8-2 run in the final 10 games. Two years ago the Warriors closed 6-3-1 after losing 10 games in a row. For whatever reason, the Warriors have closed strong and now individual games are serving as a microcosm for the season. There’s the come-from-behind win tonight. In fact, in four of Merrimack’s last five wins, the Warriors have allowed the game’s first goal.

This team has battle to it.

— The coaching staff is clearly seeing something in freshman defenseman Dominic Dockery, who is playing big (and important) minutes alongside Johnathan Kovacevic. Dockery is also finding himself in the lineup over guys like Aaron Titcomb and Simon Loof, who is now healthy.

— It was good to see Ludvig Larsson back out there after getting injured against Denver last Friday. Larsson has quietly been one of Merrimack’s most productive players, and he plays a pivotal role up the middle as a center. Larsson is the team’s best player on faceoffs and has been underrated in what he provides offensively with Brett Seney and Jace Hennig getting most of the praise (and deservedly so).

— Sami Tavernier was playing on the top line in the overtime when he scored the game-winner, skating with Brett Seney and Jace Hennig. I wonder if that becomes a go-to line at some point for the Warriors. Last year, when Merrimack started its 8-2 run with a win over BU, the Warriors began “stacking” the lines, sort to speak, and it resulted in goal averages trending upwards. Hennig, Seney and Tavernier are Merrimack’s most dangerous forwards and together, they could make a unit that’s hard to handle for opponents.

— Tyler Drevitch had a solid game and twice nearly scored his first goal, ringing one off the post in the first period and then getting to the net, with possession, one shift later.

— Merrimack’s defensemen were all standouts in this game. The Warriors transitioned the puck quickly but also cleanly. The first pass on breakouts were tape-to-tape and it allowed Merrimack to enter the zone with speed on multiple occasions, even if the game was pretty tight checking. Merrimack moved the puck D-to-D really well and it opened up the ice.

About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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