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VIP Preview: Keys For Merrimack in the Hockey East Quarterfinal

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Merrimack and Boston College meet in the Hockey East Quarterfinals this weekend at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill.

The Eagles took the season series from the Warriors, 2-0, back in November.

Exclusively for our VIP members, here are three keys to victory for the Warriors this weekend:

1) Pepper Joe Woll with pucks

Joe Woll has played some of his best hockey of the season in the last month, but there’s still a key to beating Woll. Pepper him with shots. The more pucks the Warriors can put on Woll, the better. In games I’ve seen BC play this season, Woll has really struggled with rebound control. There are times the puck shoots off his pads like a super ball.

Offense has been at a premium for the Warriors all season. The more pucks on net, the more likelihood a puck goes in the net. Look at Penn State, they fire the puck from everywhere, as soon as they cross the blue line, and they are one of the top-scoring teams in the country. Oh, and they’re about to make their second straight NCAA Tournament.

I’d like to see the Warriors like play Penn State this weekend. Shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more. Make Woll move on his crease, and make him make saves with his pads. There will second and even third opportunities there.

2) Hold the Eagles in transition

Mark Dennehy said earlier in the week that BC is one of the most dangerous transition teams that Merrimack has played all season. Despite lower-than-average scoring numbers for the Eagles (under 3 goals per game), BC scores a lot in transition.

Another good transition team, Maine, was held in check by the Warriors early last month. But, the goals that Maine did score were somewhat in part scored on the rush. That’s an area where Merrimack needs to be careful. BC is more dangerous in transition than Maine.

The Eagles will be without some key players, including Luke McInnis on defense. But BC still has one of the best defensemen in the country in Casey Fitzgerald.

3) Pantano needs to be what he has been

Dennehy also said this week that teams aren’t going to win playoff series without good goaltending. I thought Merrimack had great goaltending from Pantano last weekend, keeping Lowell in check in particular on Saturday night, when the River Hawks were pressuring late in the third period trying to extend their season.

Even in the overtime, Lowell had chances but Pantano kept them out of the net.

It sounds so simple, but it’s entirely necessary. In most cases, goaltenders are the best players on the ice in the playoffs, at least for the winning teams. That’s true all the way through to the Frozen Four at this point. Teams do not advance without top goaltending.

Pantano has proven over the course of this season, and especially last weekend, that he can provide that type of goaltending.

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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