Merrimack holds on to beat Holy Cross

WORCESTER, Mass. — It was a long trip to Worcester, but it was well worth the drive for the Merrimack men’s hockey team.

Due to holiday traffic on the road yesterday afternoon, it took the Warriors nearly three hours to make the 54-mile trip from North Andover to Worcester to take on Holy Cross last night. But, the Warriors left the Hart Center with a 3-2 win to improve to 6-4-0-3 on the season.

“We did a really good job coming off the bus,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “We had this happen to us at BU, we got stuck in a lot of traffic and we didn’t play well in that first period. We lost the game but played better in the second and third. Today, we told the guys, there were no excuses. Our leaders, our captains, they grabbed the team when we got here and said ‘no excuses.’ I was really happy with the way we came off the bus.”

Filip Forsmark put the Warriors on the board at the 5:36 mark of the first period to open the scoring. He took a feed from fellow Swede Filip Karlsson-Tagtstrom. Alex Jefferies doubled the lead at the 14:11 mark of the period when he rifled a shot from the left circle after Max Newton won the draw to open ice for his winger.

Merrimack outshot Holy Cross 13-2 in the first period.

But the Crusaders came back in the second period and took the game to the Warriors. At the 13-minute mark of the second period, the Warriors only had one shot on goal and Holy Cross had scored on a power play to cut the Warriors’ lead to 2-1.

“We stopped getting pucks deep,” Borek said. “They score on the power play and we turned a puck over at the blue line. That’s a puck that should have just gotten chipped out of the zone. They score that goal and now they feel great and we don’t. That didn’t have to happen. Those are lessons that we need to learn and it’s good to lose them in a game where you still get the win. We need to be better in that area. We need to manage the puck better; it’s going to be a high priority for us.”

Forsmark scored his second goal of the game at the 5:15 mark of the third period and it proved to be the difference; the Crusaders scored with 4:03 left to make it 3-2 and then had chances after they pulled their goalie, Erik Gordon, in the final minute of the game.

Hugo Ollas made 19 saves for his second collegiate win. Ollas made the start with Zach Borgiel unable to dress due to COVID protocols, according to Borek. Borgiel will miss Saturday’s game for the Warriors against Union as well.

“He played really well,” Borek said. “The second and third period in particular, he was good. The first period was hard for him because he didn’t face a shot for a long time, and that happened to him at Maine and he struggled with it so I was nervous about that. But he settled in and made some big saves for us.”

GAME NOTES: Karlsson-Tagtstrom assisted on the first and third goals of the game for the Warriors. He has now registered points in three out of four games since making his season debut against Boston College. … Merrimack wore their road blue jerseys while Holy Cross wore their home white shirts with black trim on the shoulders. … Max Newton, who is one of the top faceoff performers in the country, went 20-5 on draws. … Overall, Merrimack went 43-21 on faceoffs and went 15-3 on faceoffs in the offensive zone. … Total shot attempts were 53-44 Merrimack and the Warriors had a shot on goal edge of 27-21.

NEXT: Merrimack will host Union on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Ed. Note — A version of this story will appear in Wednesday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune

Merrimack 3, Holy Cross 2
at the Hart Center 
Merrimack College (6-4-0-3):      2-0-1—3
Holy Cross (1-11-1-0):                      0-1-1—2
First Period: 1. MC Filip Forsmark 5 (Filip Karlsson-Tagtstrom), ev, 5:36; 2. MC Alex Jefferies 3 (Max Newton), ev, 14:11.
Second Period: 3. HC Jack Ricketts 3 (Ryan Leibold, Lucas Thorne), pp, 9:28.
Third Period: 4. MC MC Filip Forsmark 6 (Liam Walsh, Filip Karlsson-Tagtstrom), ev, 5:15; 5. HC Alex Peterson 1 (unassisted), ev, 15:57. 
Shots: Merrimack 12-5-10—27 ; Holy Cross 2-9-10—21
Saves: MC Ollas (59:48) 19/21; HC Gordon (58:09) 24/27
Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 4 (7 shots); Holy Cross 1 for 4 (5 shots)
Penalties: Merrimack 4-8:00; Holy Cross 4-8:00
Attendance: 214 (1,600)

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