Merrimack’s losing streak extended to eight games after a 5-2 loss at home on Friday to a surging Northeastern …
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — It’s been the same story and the same result for Merrimack College for the past month. The Warriors dropped their eighth straight game, 5-2, to Northeastern last night at Lawler Rink. The Warriors are now in the midst of their longest losing skid since the 2008-09 season; Merrimack hasn’t won a game since Dec. 20 against Canisius, and is 1-11-3 in their last 15 games.
“We are not playing Merrimack hockey, that I know,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “I said to our guys tonight, it was like pins and needles in terms of we died a thousand deaths. We probably did more to ourselves, and I don’t want to take anything away from a Northeastern team that’s playing pretty well right now, but we just turned too many pucks over. Too many self-inflicted wounds.”
Ed. Note — This story will appear in Saturday’s Eagle Tribune
The Warriors got on the board first when Brett Seney snapped his fifth goal of the season past Ryan Ruck just 5:06 into the game. It brought the Lawler crowd to its feet; Merrimack had not been at home since that Dec. 20 win over Canisius, and had not played in front of its students since a Dec. 4 game against Providence, just wrapping up a seven-game road trip last weekend.
After going down 1-0, Northeastern took control of the game, outshooting the Warriors 15-1 the rest of the first period and tying the score early in the second when Dylan Sikura was left alone in front.
Mathieu Tibbet gave the Warriors the lead again just over two minutes later on a gutsy effort from Brian Christie, who streaked down the left side, turned behind the net and found Tibbet for a one-timer in front, but the Huskies would later tie the score again and take the lead late in the second before knocking in two insurance goals early in the third.
In Merrimack’s last four games, the team has allowed a whopping 22 goals, which averages to 5.5 per night.
“We talk about building this from the net out and we’ve given up 5, 5, 7, 5 in the last four games, that’s just not good enough,” Dennehy said. “We have to get back to playing the way we need to play. I think some of it is mental duress. Everyone knows we’re struggling and the tendency is to continue to grip the stick too tight. But the only thing I know is to get back on the horse, we have another opportunity tomorrow to get right back after it, and we need to do so with a clear head.”
That’s not all on goaltender Collin Delia, who battled to 28 saves on Friday and has been hung out to dry more often than not the last three weeks since returning from an undisclosed injury.
Penalties also hurt the Warriors last night. After taking the lead, the Warriors paraded four straight players to the box in the next 11 minutes.
“No, that’s the hard part,” Dennehy said of his team’s mistakes. “It’s different players, different situations. It’s different times of the game. We go up a goal and we’re playing OK, and then we just take a rash of penalties because we get overplayed. We gave them a couple of odd-man rushes, we take a penalty on a back check, and now it’s penalty, penalty, penalty. We did that to ourselves. If we just had a third man high, they don’t get an odd-man break and we don’t take a penalty. Our guys are working hard, we’re just not executing to the extent we need to.”
Roy Returns For Northeastern
Northeastern captain and senior forward Kevin Roy returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 13, missing 12 games with an upper-body injury. Roy finished with an assist, helping on Dylan Sikura’s goal in the third period. He also finished with a pair of shots.
“I thought he looked really well,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “He played 200 feet, he went on the offense, he snapped a couple off, he was really good away from the puck coming back, and that’s how we’re playing as a team. He’s been watching a lot and he has seen it. He jumped right in there and I thought that this was one of his best games all year. I thought he skated really effortless and a lot of fluid to his game. It was nice to see him back. He snapped off a couple of passes there, one to Sikura there for the goal.
“You mention third line, but we have three lines we think can score goals. If Kevin Roy is our third-line winger we might be in the NHL next week.”
Northeastern 5, Merrimack 2
at Lawler Rink, Merrimack College
Northeastern University (8-12-4): 0-3-2—5
Merrimack College (7-12-5): 1-1-0—2
First Period: 1. MC Brett Seney 5 (Jared Kolquist, Mathieu Tibbet), ev, 5:06.
Second Period: 2. NU Dylan Sikura 6 (Mike McMurtry, Adam Gaudette), ev, 1:23; 3. MC Mathieu Tibbet 4 (Brian Christie), ev, 3:48; 4. NU Mike McMurtry 4 (Adam Gaudette, Dustin Darou), ev, 8:53; 5. NU Lincoln Griffin 4 (Sam Kurker), ev, 17:24.
Third Period: 6. NU John Stevens 7 (Nolan Stevens, Jarrett Fennell), ev, 0:29; 7. NU Dylan Sikura 7 (Kevin Roy, Mike McMurtry), ev, 2:00.
Shots: Merrimack 6-11-7—24; Northeastern 16-12-5—33
Saves: MC Delia 16-9-3—28; NU Ruck 5-10-7—22
Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 6; Northeastern 0 for 6
Penalties: Merrimack 7-14; Northeastern 7-14
Next: at Northeastern tonight, 7 p.m.