NORTH ANDOVER — As you might expect from a 1-1 tie, both Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy and UMass head coach John Micheletto came away feeling pretty good about their teams after each took a point last night at Lawler Rink.
For UMass, it was a tie against a ranked team after playing at UNH on Friday night, while Merrimack sat dormant. For the Warriors, it was a game where Dennehy felt his team got back to what was making it successful at the start of this season.
Ed. Note — You can also read this story in Sunday’s Eagle Tribune
“It was a man’s game,” said Micheletto, whose team moves to 6-3-4 on the season. “You go up to UNH (Friday) night at the Whittemore Center and play on the big sheet against a team that plays a much different style to tonight, coming into a smaller building against a team that didn’t play last night. It was physical, you had to earn every inch of ice out there and I thought our guys did a fantastic job of defending and making them play a 200-foot game.”
Added Dennehy, whose Warriors moved to 6-1-4 on the season: “We want it to be a man’s game in this rink. That’s the type of game that we want. When people come in to Lawler Rink, we want them to know that they’re going to get their shirts dirty and it’s going to be a greasy game. I thought we did a good job with it. I thought there was some major territorial advantage by us and I thought we did a good job getting to the net at times, but we did a real good job denying them access to ours.”
The game was very physical, especially in the second period where the teams combined for six penalties. Aside from that, there were also plenty of clean hits in the middle of the rink, including Jonathan Lashyn dropping a shoulder on a UMass forward as he tried to cross the offensive blue line. Callum Fryer crushed Jace Henning into the boards near the UMass bench and Jared Kolquist did the same to Steven Iacobellis with a cross check later in the period.
“This barn is conducive to that,” Dennehy said. “You’ve got some really big bodies out there, and not a lot of space, so if you’re not running into somebody you’re trying really hard not to run into people. It was a physical Hockey East game. Guys played hard.”
Merrimack out-attempted UMass 68-44 and outshot the Minutemen 31-23. Nick Renyard, who has solidified himself as UMass’ starting goaltender, made 30 saves while Merrimack’s Collin Delia stopped 22.
Dennehy said he felt his team was very effective in the defensive zone, in front of Delia’s net. That was especially noticeable early in the game, when UMass didn’t generate a single Grade-A chance in the first period and then totaled four shot attempts from inside that area during the second period.
“It was a lot closer to how we played early in the season,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “I didn’t think we gave up very many chances, and we worked hard for ours. I think (Bahe) was in alone, Christie was in alone, Seney was in alone, so we need to capitalize on some of those, but I liked how our team played for the most part.”
Titcomb Scores His First
Merrimack’s lone goal of the night came off the stick of Aaron Titcomb, as the sophomore defenseman registered the first goal of his collegiate career. After Brett Seney won a faceoff, Titcomb found the puck on his stick and he walked it to the slot before getting off a backhander that Renyard didn’t look ready for.
UMass lone goal of the game also came in the second period, when Kurt Keats tipped a Jake Horton point shot just over one minute into the second period.
Merrimack 1, Massachusetts 1
at Lawler Arena, Merrimack College
Massachusetts (6-3-4, 2-3-4 HE): 0-1-0-0—1
Merrimack (6-1-4, 2-1-4 HE): 0-1-0-0—1
Second Period: 1. UMA Kurt Keats 3 (Jake Horton, Joseph Widmar), ev, 1:19; 2. MC Aaron Titcomb 1 (Brett Seney), ev, 12:16
Shots: Merrimack 8-9-12-2—31; UMass 3-8-10-2—23
Saves: MC Delia 3-7-10-2—22; UMA Renyard 8-8-12-2-30
Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 3 (3 shots); UMass 0 for 5 (3 shots)
Penalties: Merrimack 4 for 8; UMass 4 for 8
Next: Hosts Union Saturday, 7 p.m.