NORTH ANDOVER — One night after watching a third-period lead slip away, the Merrimack men’s hockey team felt the heat from UNH yesterday afternoon before closing out a 6-2 win over the Wildcats at Lawler Rink.
Merrimack had a 3-0 lead in the third period but the Wildcats made the score 3-2 with two final-period goals. The Warriors then struck for three insurance tallies in a three-minute span to seal the victory.
“That was a really good answer by our team,” said Merrimack coach Scott Borek, whose team jumped two spots into eighth place in Hockey East. “(Friday) we let one get away from us, and we ended up in a tie with a shootout. We had a disappointed group in the morning but came back today with a great answer from our team, our goaltender, and our captain.
“It’s funny how things repeat themselves (in the third). We need to learn how to win. When they made it 3-2, we almost called a timeout but we felt our guys were OK. They made a push and got those two goals, but we felt we were OK. We had a much better reaction than (Friday) and we went back out and got those next three goals. Our team response, even when they made it 3-2, was good.”
Merrimack received goals from six different players. Sophomore forward Filip Forsmark had three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and five players had two-point games, including Logan Drevitch, who returned from an injury this weekend, and Max Newton, who now has seven points in seven games since transferring from Alaska.
“Merrimack was the hungrier team,” said UNH coach Mike Souza. “They outplayed us. That was the difference. … they out-executed us.”
Merrimack went 4 for 4 on the power play and finished the weekend 6 for 7 on the power play. That success raised their success rate to 23 percent, which is ranked No. 3 in Hockey East behind UMass and Northeastern and No. 10 in the nation.
Merrimack’s penalty kill held UNH to 0 for 6.
“I told Josh (Ciocco) and Dan (Jewell) that this weekend was probably the best weekend I’ve seen for two assistant coaches,” Borek said. “Sometimes the power play works great and the penalty kill doesn’t, or vice versa, but those guys took over for us on those two units and that helped win us a game. You could see the confidence in our guys going over the boards for that fourth power play. We knew we were going to score.
“Your goalie has to be your best player on the PK and guys have to eat pucks. Dom Dockery has eaten a lot of pucks, so has Declan Carlile. Same for the forwards. The penalty kill is a little like the power play, where you start to feel good and it gives you confidence.”
Freshman goaltender Zach Borgiel has solidified himself as the starter; he has started nine out of the last 10 games. This weekend against UNH he had a 2.40 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage and over the last four games – all starts for Borgiel – he has a 2.72 goals-against and .918 save percentage.
“He was really good today,” Borek said. “He was really good on Friday. Playing goalie in Hockey East, both nights, is not easy. Our team is learning that winning in Hockey East, every night, is not easy. It doesn’t matter who you are playing. For Zach to do what he did this weekend is a positive for him and our team. I’m happy to see him get the W.”
The Warriors will find out their opponent for next weekend likely by Tuesday. Hockey East announced last month that it would begin making the schedule on a week-to-week basis due to programs pausing for COVID protocols.
Merrimack 6, UNH 2 at Lawler Rink New Hampshire (5-13-3): 0-0-2—2 Merrimack (4-10-2): 2-1-3—6 First Period: 1. MC Logan Drevitch 3 (Filip Forsmark, Zach Vinnell), pp, 11:11; 2. MC Filip Forsmark 3 (Liam Walsh, Zach Uens), pp, 13:31. Second Period: 3. MC Chase Gresock 4 (Declan Carlile, Zach Uens), pp, 16:00. Third Period: 4. UNH Filip Engrass 5 (Kohei Sato, Will MacKinnon), ev, 8:08; 5. UNH Ryan Verrier 2 (Angus Crookshank, Jackson Pierson), ev, 9:43; 6. MC Max Newton 3 (Ben Brar, Dominic Dockery), ev, 10:55; 7. MC Liam Walsh 5 (Logan Drevitch, Filip Forsmark), pp, 12:51; 8. MC Ben Brar 4 (Dominic Dockery, Max Newton), ev, 14:11. Shots: Merrimack 5-10-10—25; UNH 7-7-12—26 Saves: MC Borgiel 7-7-10—24; UNH Robinson 3-9-7—19 Power Play: Merrimack 4 for 4; UNH 0 for 6 Penalties: Merrimack 7-14; UNH 5-10