HAMILTON, N.Y. — The Warriors had their backs against the wall.
Trailing by two goals and only 20 minutes away from potentially suffering a sweep at the hands of Colgate, the Warriors stormed back with four third-period goals to salvage a split with the undefeated Raiders, courtesy of a 5-3 win on Saturday at Class of 1965 Arena.
“It was a gut-check win for our guys,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek, who returned to the team after missing more than a week. “We got a little distracted in the second period, and we talked about that, but then in the third we stayed on task and obviously we got a lot done with the puck going to their net. It’s really hard to get to their net, but in the third period we were able to get there.”
Matt Verboon scored in the first period to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead and that advantage was extended to 2-0 when Josh McKechney scored his first of two goals for Colgate early in the second period
Max Newton scored at the four-minute mark to cut the deficit back to one goal but McKechney’s second goal, with just 20 seconds remaining in the period, gave Colgate a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Warriors started the comeback quickly in the third period. Liam Walsh scored at the 4:45 mark on a feed from Filip Forsmark. Ben Brar and Newton scored four minutes apart at the midpoint of the third to give Merrimack a lead and Brar added an empty-netter late in the third period to ice the game.
Zach Borgiel made 23 saves.
“We played with a lot more desperation,” Borek said. “That allowed us to get second and even third chances.”
The Warriors shuffled some of their lines as they headed into this weekend. In particular, Brar was added to the top line with Newton and Alex Jefferies.
“That was the best I thought Max’s line played all year,” Borek said. “All three of them were hard on pucks and in the third period, that was important.
“Jandric, on his line, he used his legs and it was the first time I’ve really seen him use his legs to explode to the net. That was a huge play for us.”
Second period review explained
There was a mysterious review in the second period. Inside the arena, it was never announced what the officials were reviewing or who requested the review. But after the officials emerged from the booth, it was announced that Merrimack had lost its timeout due to an unsuccessful challenge.
So what did the Warriors challenge?
“I thought my guy took an elbow in the head,” Borek said. “The guy left his feet. They’re a physical team, which I don’t mind at all, it’s a great way to play, but I don’t respect it when a kid leaves his feet and targets a head, and I thought that’s what happened in that situation. The refs disagreed. I don’t think they had a very good angle on the film, because it looked fairly clear and it was way too quick (of a review) if they had a good angle.”
Newton’s weekend on the dot
Max Newton went 36-13 on faceoffs this weekend and he’s won nearly 70 percent of his faceoffs this season.
“He’s so consistent,” Borek said. “He won one near the end of the game that they said he encroached, but I don’t think he did, he just won it so clean. When he’s on the ice we start with possession most of the time. He’s a big weapon in that area.
“(Colgate) stopped trying to win the draws and started just trying not to lose them against Max. Give Benny Brar and Alex Jefferies credit for their help winning those draws.”
Merrimack wore their road blue jerseys again while Colgate wore their home white shirts. … Ben Brar and Max Newton finished with six shots each to lead the Warriors. … The win marked Merrimack’s first road win at Colgate since Nov. 23, 2001. … Max Newton went 15-9 on faceoffs.
Merrimack 5, Colgate 3 at Class of 1965 Arena Merrimack (2-2-0): 0-1-4—5 Colgate (4-1-0): 1-2-0—3 First Period: 1. CG Matt Verboon 2 (Paul McAvoy, Ross Mitton), ev, 1:37. Second Period: 2. CG Josh McKechney 3 (Alex Young), pp, 1:30; 3. MC Max Newton 3 (Zach Uens, Declan Carlile), ev, 4:01; 4. CH Josh McKechney 4 (Alex Young, Nick Anderson), pp, 19:40. Third Period: 5. MC Liam Walsh 2 (Filip Forsmark), ev, 4:45; 6. MC Ben Brar 2 (Steven Jandric, Max Newton, ev, 10:31; 7. MC Max Newton 4 (Steven Jandric, Alex Jefferies), ev, 14:25; 8. MC Ben Brar 3 (Zach Vinnell), en, 18:25. Shots: Merrimack 10-13-14—37; Colgate 6-10-10—26 Saves: MC Borgiel 23 saves (3GA), 60:00; CH Farrier 32 saves (4GA), 58:16 Power Play: Merrimack 2 for 6; Colgate 2 for 7 Penalties: Merrimack 7-14:00; Colgate 6-12:00 Faceoffs: 38-28 Colgate