Merrimack finds a way to win at Providence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Good teams win hockey games. Great teams win hockey games even when they don’t play well.
The Merrimack men’s hockey team was outplayed for large stretches last night but found a way to leave Schneider Arena with a 3-2 win over Providence. The Warriors enter the 20-day semester break 13-4 overall, 10-1 in their last 11 games, and ranked No. 3 in the national Pairwise rankings.
Moreover, the win catapulted the Warriors into a first-place tie with UConn, but Merrimack has two games in hand on the Huskies. The Warriors have the best points percentage in Hockey East.
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“Providence played really well,” Merrimack head coach Scott Borek said. “That’s a very good hockey team and they came after us. They had us on our heels for a lot of the night but we found a way to win a hockey game.”
The win last night for the Warriors capped a stretch of three road games in eight days against teams ranked No. 8 (UConn), No. 12 (UMass), and No. 15 (Providence). All of those games were wins for the Warriors, and all three opponents were ranked in the top-11 before they faced Merrimack.
“If you could have told me that this was how this stretch of games would work out, I would be thrilled because I was really nervous about them,” Borek said. “I wasn’t nervous because of our team, I love our team, but I knew how good the teams were that we were going to have to play. We stubbed our toe at home (against UConn) and it was a frustrating way to lose that game, with a goal called back. To bounce back and get these results three times in a row on the road says a lot about our veteran players and our leadership.”
Fittingly, it was Merrimack’s veteran players that stepped up against the Friars.
Grad transfer Slava Demin scored in the first period. Grad transfer Ryan Leibold scored a shorthanded goal in the second period and grad student Jordan Seyfert capped off the night with the game-winning goal in the third period.
“He’s been great the last couple of games,” Borek said of Seyfert. “He just brings it. He brings effort and he got rewarded. The game-winning goal was huge, obviously.”
Late in the third period another grad student, Will Calverley, had a big blocked shot which helped seal the game for the Warriors.
“That’s what you need to have,” Borek said. “That’s what you need to do to win games. You need guys like that who are willing to sacrifice to block a shot. It all adds up.”
Merrimack now enters the semester break. The Warriors will be off until Dec. 30 when they take on Dartmouth in the first game of the Ledyard Bank Classic.
Despite the recent results, the break comes as a good time for the Warriors.
“This is as necessary a break as I’ve ever been a part of,” Borek said. “Don’t forget what this group has been through. There is a lot of mental fatigue. Personally, I need the break. I haven’t had a chance to breathe since October and I’m looking forward to that chance.”
Portions of this story will appear in Sunday’s Eagle Tribune
Merrimack 3, Providence 2 at Schneider Arena Merrimack (13-4-0): 1-1-1--3 Providence (9-4-5): 0-2-0--2 First Period: 1. MC Slava Demin 3 (Will Calverley), ev, 0:52. Second Period: 2. MC Ryan Leibold 4 (unassisted), sh, 7:44; 3. PC Nick Poisson 6 (Riley Duran, Austen May), sh, 10:30; 4. PC Bennett Schimek 3 (Max Crozier, Riley Duran), pp, 17:55. Third Period: 5. MC Jordan Seyfert 4 (Tristan Crozier, Riley Duran, ev, 3:53. Shots: Merrimack 7-3-5--15; Providence 11-9-6--26 Saves: MC Borgiel (60:00) 24/26; PC Svedeback (59:04) 12/15 Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 6; Providence 1 for 4 Penalties: Merrimack 4-8:00; Providence 6-12:00 Attendance: 2,618