Discover more from The Mack Report
Lowell beats Merrimack on power-play goal in overtime
The Warriors lost defenseman Zach Bookman in the game
LOWELL — The 4-on-3 power play and penalty kill is not a situation teams practice very often, if at all. But sometimes, it can decide a game.
It was the deciding factor in UMass Lowell's 3-2 win over Merrimack in overtime last night at the Tsongas Center. Early in the 3-on-3 overtime period, the Warriors' Ben Brar was sent off for tripping, giving Lowell a 4-on-3 advantage.
"We've practiced down two men and down one man, but we don't necessarily practice specifically 4-on-3," Merrimack coach Scott Borek said. "They had their foot on the gas since the second period and they went out and finished it."
Nick Rheaume blasted a shot that beat Merrimack goalie Hugo Ollas in the top part of the net. It was Rheaume's second goal of the game (he also scored early in the third period).
"We haven't spent any time practicing the 4-on-3 power play, and maybe that's the key. Spend less time practicing the power play," UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin joked. "I'm happy for the guys because (the lack of power-play goals) has been knawing at them. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come."
It was just Lowell's second power-play goal in eight games. The River Hawks were on a stretch where they had been 1 for 28 since Oct. 21, entering that overtime power play.
"It's tough whenever you're shorthanded," Borek said. "They were able to move the puck through our triangle and get a lane. Hugo (Ollas) played realy well for us and gave us a chance to win the game. It's unfortunate that it ended like that, and I was disappointed for him. But quite frankly, we were fortunate just to make it to overtime."
Merrimack was outshot 38-17 in the game and 32-10 since the start of the second period.
Warriors lose Bookman, potentially for “a while”
A potentially devastating blow to Merrimack's D core came in the second period when Zach Bookman skated to the locker room during a media timeout and didn't return. The Warriors rolled five defensemen for the remainder of the night.
He was the second player the Warriors lost. At the same whistle, winger Mark Gallant was ejected on a face-masking major.
Defensively, the Warriors are back to just six healthy defensemen if Bookman can't suit up next weekend against Bentley and Army. Trevor Griebel was a healthy scratch on Saturday.
Bookman left the game after blocking a shot off his ankle.
"He's probably not around for a while," Borek said. "That's a big loss. We had some power plays after he went out of the game, and he's our quarterback back there and drives that unit.”
The Warriors went 0 for 2 on the power play after Bookman left the game, and had problems generating pressure.
"He was able to play for another shift or two after (blocking the shot off the ankle), but eventually he couldn't even feel his ankle,” Borek said. “That would put him at risk and we just had him looked at an the doctor here told him he couldn't go back out there."
There's hope that defensemen Mike Brown and Ivan Zivlak could be back soon. Both have been out of the lineup for weeks due to separate injuries.
"I hope (they're close) because it is gonna be a problem," Borek said. "But I don't think they'll be ready next weekend. We'll see, but I don't think either of them will be ready."
Looking for a spark
Borek switched wingers on his top two lines against the River Hawks, playing Filip Forsmark alongside Matt Copponi and Alex Jefferies and flipping Michael Citara to play with Ben Brar and Mac Welsher.
"Those two groups have a ton of potential offensively but we haven't really found it yet," he said. "I was just looking for an adjustment that might get our lines moving a little bit."
NOTES: Merrimack went 22-24 on faceoffs. Matt Copponi (10-8) was the Warriors’ best performer on the dot. ... Alex Jefferies scored his sixth goal in six games since returning from injury and led the Warriors with five shots on goal.
NEXT: Merrimack will host Army on Friday afternoon (4 p.m.) at Lawler Arena in the opening game of the Turkey Leg Classic, a tournament they're hosting in partnership with UMass Lowell. The Warriors will host Bentley next Saturday in the second game of that tournament.
UMass Lowell 3, Merrimack 2 (OT) at Tsongas Center Merrimack (4-4-1-2): 1-0-1-0—2 UMass Lowell (5-4-1-2): 0-1-1-1—3 First Period: 1. MC Alex Jefferies 6 (Matt Copponi, Filip Forsmark), ev, 19:15. Second Period: 2. UML Scout Truman 3 (Matt Crasa), ev, 4:26. Third Period: 3. UML Nick Rheaume 4 (unassisted), ev, 0:45; 4. MC Mark Hillier 2 (Liam Dennison, Ty Daneault), ev, 10:17 Overtime: 5. UML Nick Rheaume 5 (Scout Truman, Isac Jonsson), ev, 1:47. Shots: MC 7-5-3-2—17 ; UML 6-16-13-3—38 Saves: MC Ollas (61:47) 35/38; UML Welsch (61:47) 15/17 Power Play: MC 0 for 2; UML 1 for 3 Penalties: MC 5-21:00; UML 3-6:00 Attendance: 4,867