CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The Merrimack men’s hockey team faced its toughest test on Saturday night with a visit to No. 3 Boston College. To make it even harder, the Warriors had prepared all week for Vermont, but a late change due to COVID protocols gave the Warriors a new opponent.
BC skated away with a 2-1 victory, but Merrimack head coach Scott Borek believed his team took some necessary steps against the Eagles.
“If we just eliminate a couple of D-zone mistakes, it is a different game,” Borek said. “I liked our bounceback to stay in the game and, at times, control that game.
“No one feels sorry for you, but it’s not easy (changing opponents). We went from playing Vermont, and we prepared our players for that game, and then we get transferred to BC and they’re a little more wide open, they want to get into open ice and challenge you with their pace. But I thought we handled it well.
“We played with confidence. We continued to attack.”
Eamon Powell and Danny Weight each scored their first collegiate goals for the Eagles and BC senior Logan Hutsko notched his 100th career point.
After they fell behind 2-0 in the second period, Merrimack sophomore defenseman Zach Vinnell scored his second goal of the season on the power play to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Merrimack continued to attack, outshooting Boston College 18-9 in the third period. The Warriors had a five-minute power play after Trevor Kuntar was called for charging in the period and the Warriors had three golden chances with the goalie pulled in the final minute, thanks in large part to senior Patrick Kramer, who won consecutive faceoffs.
“The five-minute kill an interesting dynamic,” said BC coach Jerry York. “If you can defend the first two or three minutes, then it carries over. If you get scored on early, a team can get two or three goals. We got through the first three minutes and we did it with some great saves. That helped us.”
“I liked our composure and our attack,” Borek said. “We stayed on the attack there. On the 6-on-5 we had some good looks but they had some big saves and they cleared pucks. I was disappointed in the result, but I think we made a step.”
Drevitch’s line dominates
Logan Drevitch’s line dominated puck possession all night. Drevitch centered Alex Jefferies and Ben Brar, and the trio combined for 22 shots on goal. In contrast, BC had 21 shots on goal as a team.
Brar led all players with nine shots and Jefferies had eight shots on goal while Drevitch finished with five shots. The line attempted 33 shots, which included 16 shot attempts from Jefferies.
“They moved their feet, they were on the attack,” Borek said. “Alex went through a process last year to get to Merrimack and it included BC. He played like a man today. He wanted the puck and he owned the puck. Knight made some good saves on him. I liked the way that line created, but it still wasn’t enough tonight.
“(Brar) is an offensive player. He’s a guy who can go up and down the rink on the rush, and he made hay there in juniors. What I like about his game now is he’s more than willing to get into traffic and he did a nice job in front of the net.”
Merrimack’s tough road
With COVID, schedules across college hockey have been affected and games are being postponed or swapped on a weekly basis. The effect on Merrimack has resulted in the Warriors facing arguably the top-three teams in Hockey East, facing UMass twice, Northeastern four times and now the Eagles twice following tomorrow’s rematch.
“Our schedule is what it is,” Borek said. “But it’s almost funny. I really believe we’re close. I believe as a staff and, and from our leadership, we just need to continue to climb. Because of COVID everyone is in the playoffs, so we need to be playing well in March. Playing BC, UMass and Northeastern only pushes us along and makes us better. We have six losses, and we’re not happy with that, but four have been by one goal.”
#3 Boston College 2, Merrimack 1 at Conte Forum Merrimack (1-6-0): 0-0-1—1 Boston College (7-2-0): 1-1-0—2 1st Period Scoring - 1, BC Eamon Powell/1 (Logan Hutsko/7, Jack McBain/5) 1:30 Penalties - Ben Brar, MER (Interference) 13:13; Logan Hutsko, BC (Slashing) 13:13 2nd Period Scoring - 2, BC Danny Weight/1 (Colby Ambrosio/4, Jack St. Ivany/1) 8:10 (GW) Penalties - Michael Karow, BC (Interference) 9:28 3rd Period Scoring - 3, MER Zach Vinnell/2 (Ben Brar/1, Alex Jefferies/3) 2:45 (PP) Penalties - Jack St. Ivany, BC (Tripping) 1:13; Trevor Kuntar, BC (5-Charging) 9:31; Trevor Kuntar, BC (10-Game Misconduct) 9:31; Filip Forsmark, MER (Tripping) 14:27 Merrimack Goaltending - Zachary Borgiel (58:19, 21 shots, 19 saves, 2 GA); Empty Net (1:41, 0 GA) Boston College Goaltending - Spencer Knight (60:00, 35 shots, 34 saves, 1 GA) Win - Spencer Knight, BC (6-0-0). Loss - Zachary Borgiel, MER (1-4-0). Shots On Goal - MER 10-7-18=35; BC 9-6-6=21 Power Plays - MER 1 of 3; BC 0 of 1 Penalties - MER 2 (4 min); BC 5 (21 min) New Records - Boston College 7-2-0, Merrimack 1-6-0 Three Stars: 1. Spencer Knight (Boston College) 2. Ben Brar (Merrimack) 3. Eamon Powell (Boston College)