Huskies roll past Merrimack in series opener
BOSTON — Northeastern goaltender Devon Levi might be the best in the nation at his position. Levi made 31 saves last night to lead the Huskies to a pivotal 6-1 win over Merrimack at Matthews Arena. The Huskies jumped Merrimack and stand alone in second place in the Hockey East standings with just one game to go. That game will take place tonight at Lawler Arena.
The problem wasn’t so much that the Warriors couldn’t solve Levi … it was that they barely tested him through two periods. Merrimack was outshot 37-13 through 40 minutes before they outshot the Huskies 18-10 in the third period.
“I’m disappointed in the way we played,” said Merrimack coach Scott Borek. “I’m impressed with the way (Northeastern) played.
“I thought we were on our heels from the beginning of the game. We had ourselves in a position with six minutes left in the second period, still a 1-1 game, thanks to our goaltender. But we played poorly the rest of that period. We need to play better. This was a big game to not play well.”
Zach Uens scored at the 12:20 mark of the second period to tie the game after Jack Hughes gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead on the power play at the 9:09 mark of the first period. The Warriors and Huskies remained tied until Northeastern scored three goals in the final 6:24 of the second period to take a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
“They took some liberties, physically, with their sticks in the second period and it wasn’t called,” Borek said, “but we didn’t respond well to that. There’s going to be times things like that happen. Both teams will do it, it’s gonna happen.
“Early in the second, until we gave up the goal, I thought we righted the ship a little bit. We were more physical and we didn’t let them break out of the zone quite as easily. But we can’t play their game or the same thing will happen tomorrow. We didn’t play with a lot of maturity without the puck.”
Merrimack entered the night in a second-place tie with the Huskies but fell to fifth in the standings with the loss. The Warriors are currently tied with BU for fourth place but will lose the tie-breaker. UMass Lowell beat New Hampshire and Boston University beat Maine to jump the Warriors in the standings.
The Warriors cannot finish any lower than sixth place.
“We haven’t had (this type of loss) in the second half of the season,” Borek said. “We lost a game, tomorrow we get to play again and we need to play better. That’s all. That’s the message. We just need to play better. Credit to Northeastern, they’re explosive, but we just need to play better.”
GAME NOTES: Before the game, it was announced that Merrimack head coach Scott Borek signed a new multi-year contract extension to remain the head coach of the Warriors. … Merrimack’s 14-game streak of scoring at least one power-play goal was snapped; Merrimack went 0 for 2 on the power play.
NEXT: The Warriors will host Northeastern in the regular-season finale tonight at Lawler Arena.
Northeastern 6, Merrimack 1 at Matthews Arena Merrimack (18-13-1): 1-0-0--1 Northeastern (23-11-1): 1-3-2--6 First Period: 1. NU Jack Hughes (Sam Colangelo, Jordan Harris), pp, 9:09; 2. MC Zach Uens (Max Newton, Steven Jandric), ev, 12:20. Second Period: 3. NU Julian Kislin (Jack Hughes), ev, 13:26; 4. NU Michael Outzen (Ryan St. Louis, Jayden Struble), ev, 14:09; 5. NU Sam Colangelo (Aidan McDonough, Jayden Struble), ev, 16:58. Third Period: 6. NU Jayden Struble (Jeremie Bucheler, Aidan McDonough), ev, 10:11; 7. NU Sam Colangeo (Julian Kislin, Jack Hughes), ev, 15:47. Shots: Merrimack 8-5-18--31; Northeastern 22-15-9--46 Saves: MC Borgiel (60:00) 40/46; NU Levi (60:00) 30/31 Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 2; Northeastern 1 for 2 Penalties: Merrimack 3-6:00; Northeastern 3-6:00 Attendance: