LOWELL — From the drop of the opening faceoff, something felt off for the Merrimack men’s hockey team. The Warriors were forced to play catch up all night after Lowell scored one minute into the game, and ultimately UMass Lowell ran away from them and into the Hockey East semifinals with a 7-2 victory at the Tsongas Center.
“I thought we played three very close games with them,” said Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “Congratulations to Merrimack on an outstanding season. The score tonight didn’t indicate the type of hockey game it was.”
The Warriors trailed 2-0 just eight minutes into the game but thought they had some life when Logan Drevitch scored at the 17:36 mark of the period to cut the deficit to one goal heading into the first intermission.
But, Lowell scored on the power play just 5:33 into the second period and then found the net again three minutes later to open up a 4-1 lead. Ryan Brushett made it 5-1 near the end of the second period.
“I thought they were harder on pucks than we were today,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “They won more 50-50 puck fights, and that was the story of the game, to be honest.
“They played a heavier game than we played. We were playing a faster game, and that’s fine, but I think we over-passed the puck and they didn’t. We spent as much time in the scoring areas, but they got more shots to the net.”
Merrimack was outshot 28-21 through two periods and then outshot Lowell 20-4 in the third period as the Warriors were desperate to save their season.
The Warriors will graduate Max Newton, Jake Durflinger, Steven Jandric, Jordan Seyfert, Logan Drevitch, and Mick Messner off this year’s team. Four of those players joined the Warriors as transfers.
“The basic message (in the locker room), especially to the seniors, was I wanted to thank them,” Borek said. “All of those guys came to Merrimack, some at different points, but they all came here when our program was on the mat. They chose to come here when we weren’t very good and their hard work and dedication got us to the second round of the playoffs.”
The Warriors ended the night ranked No. 23 in the Pairwise, about eight spots out of an NCAA Tournament berth. Merrimack finished the season 19-15-1, which is the third-best winning percentage and second-most wins in the modern era of the program (D-I/Hockey East).
“I am really pleased (with the season),” Borek said. “I thought we made some huge steps and the expectations for our team will be much higher now. That’s why our team is so disappointed with the result.”
GAME NOTES: Alex Jefferies scored his 10th goal of the season and finished the year with a career-high 23 points. … Max Newton, who is one of the nation’s best faceoff players, went 16-8 to close out his NCAA career. … Newton arrived at Merrimack midway through last season. In 44 career appearances for the Warriors, he finished with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists).
Ed. Note — Portions of this story will appear in Sunday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
UMass Lowell 7, Merrimack 2 at Tsongas Center Merrimack (19-15-1): 1-0-1--2 UMass Lowell (21-9-3): 2-3-2--7 First Period: 1. UML Connor Sodergren 6 (Sam Knoblauch, Blake Wells), ev, 1:04; 2. UML Carl Berglund 8 (Isac Jonsson, Andre Lee), ev, 7:55; 3. MC Logan Drevitch 5 (Mick Messner), ev, 17:36. Second Period: 4. UML Ben Meehan (Jon McDonald, Lucas Condotta), pp, 5:33; 5. UML Carl Berglund (Andre Lee, Isac Jonsson), ev, 8:44; 6. UML Ryan Brushett (Isac Jonsson, Brehdan Engum), ev, 14:22. Third Period: 7. MC Alex Jefferies 10 (Filip Forsmark, Steven Jandric), pp, 8:20; 8. UML Ryan Brushett (Zach Kaiser, Brehdan Engum), ev, 10:27. Shots: MC 11-10-20--41; UML 10-18-4--32 Saves: MC Ollas (34:22) 22/27; Borgiel (17:37) 3/4; UML Savory (60:00) 39/41 Penalties: MC 2-4:00; UML 2-4:00 Power Play: MC 1 for 2; UML 1 for 2 Attendance: 5,782