ORONO, Maine — The stage was set for yet another come-from-behind effort for the Merrimack men’s hockey team. But an ugly final 20 minutes allowed the Maine Black Bears to pull away for a 6-2 victory last night at Alfond Arena.
Trailing by two goals in the second period, Sami Tavernier scored on the power play to cut the deficit to 3-2. With just nine seconds left in the period, Maine’s Adam Dawe was assessed a five-minute major for crosschecking Merrimack defenseman Zach Vinnell in the facemask well after the play ended. The Warriors began the third period with 4:51 of time left on that major power-play but mustered just one shot on goal.
“When you dump the puck, you have to be willing to hunt it,” Merrimack head coach Scott Borek said. “At that point in the game, we had put ourselves in a great position to get back into the game (with the power play). We worked really hard in the second period to get that opportunity. And then the way we played it? We just didn’t hunt. You can’t play man and not hunt in this building, because Maine’s going to hunt you all over the rink.
“It’s disappointing the way we played in the third period. We played young, and that’s not an excuse. At this point in the season, we’re not young, but we played like it. They played like a bunch of veterans and they beat us up and we just took every punch they gave us standing there and we never punched back. We had no push in the third period.”
The Warriors managed just five shots total in the third period.
After the power play expired, the Warriors continued to have trouble gaining and sustaining entry into the offensive zone. The Black Bears would either transition quickly after retrieving the puck from behind the net on a dump, or they would be able to step up and force a turnover as the Warriors crossed the blue line.
“We had guys make stupid plays, and I’m sorry, this is Division I hockey,” Borek said. “They’re physical, they’re tough. We had no pushback and we had no answer for it. That really upsets me.”
The Warriors will have a chance to push back tonight when the series concludes at 7 p.m. back at Alfond Arena.
“It’s going to be a big character test,” Borek said. “We don’t have too many healthy bodies. What we came here with is what we have. All we can do is challenge them to play better. We turned the puck over like it was our job because we weren’t physically involved enough. If we want to be a winning hockey team — and we want to be — you can’t just hope the other team is going to give you the puck. … Yeah, they’re physical, but instead of complaining about it, get involved in it.”
NEXT: The Warriors conclude the two-game series at Maine Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Maine 6, Merrimack 2
at Alfond Arena
Merrimack (6-16-3): 1-1-0—2
Maine (12-9-4): 2-1-3—6
First Period: 1. ME Adam Dawe 6 (J Schmidt-Svejstrup, Ben Poisson), 1:55 (ev); 2. ME Tim Doherty 13 (Mitchell Fossier, Eduards Tralmaks), 9:03 (ev); 3. MC Ben Brar 5 (Tyler Irvine, Zach Uens), 12:29 (pp).
Second Period: 4. ME Adam Dawe 7 (J Schmidt-Svejstrup), 6:32 (ev); 5. MC Sami Tavernier 6 (Declan Carlile, Ben Brar), 19:18 (pp).
Third Period: 6. ME Samuel Rennaker 4 (Kevin Hock, Simon Butala), 5:43 (ev); 7. ME Kevin Hock 1 (Samuel Rennaker, Simon Butala), 13:20 (ev); 8. ME Eduards Tralmaks 12 (Mitchell Fossier, Tim Doherty), 17:44 (en).
Shots: Merrimack 6-10-5—21; Maine 15-12-8—35
Saves: MC Kobryn 13-11-5—29; ME Swayman 5-9-5—19
Power Play: Merrimack 2 for 7; Maine 0 for 3
Penalties: Merrimack 6-20:00; Maine 11-41:00