Merrimack reeling after loss to Brown
Ed. Note — This story appeared in Sunday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
NORTH ANDOVER — We’re about to find out how much mettle the Merrimack Warriors truly have.
Last night’s 6-2 loss to Brown capped a harrowing eight days for the Warriors since they returned from the semester break.
It started last Friday with a win over Dartmouth, but the Warriors needed overtime to get past the worst-ranked team in the nation in the Pairwise (No. 61). Last Saturday Merrimack fell to Providence in a non-conference game, 6-1. Friday night the Warriors needed to come back in the third period to salvage a tie against No. 58 Yale and then last night the Warriors were outmatched by No. 45 Brown.
It’s been a stark contrast to the beginning of the season when everything seemed to be going right for Merrimack. The Warriors entered the semester break ranked No. 3 in the Pairwise.
“We got outplayed,” said Merrimack coach Scott Borek. “Plain and simple. We didn’t have any pushback. By the time we started to play with urgency, we were down by five goals. They have a good team and a good goalie and we put ourselves in a bad position.
“I think we’ve taken a lot for granted. It started last week. We have gotten humbled and I hope we learn from it. … I want the family to come back together. That game was a disaster. I think we came back from break and started thinking that we were pretty (expletive) good and we stopped doing the things we needed to do. That’s really disappointing."
The numbers don’t lie.
Over the last four games, the Warriors have mismanaged the puck. Turnovers in dangerous areas of the ice have become the norm and it resulted in at least a half dozen goals this weekend alone.
Merrimack matched its season-high for goals allowed against Brown. The other six-goal game? Last week against Providence. Those two games also represent the most lopsided losses of the season for the Warriors.
Merrimack’s three-game winless streak is the longest of the season. In fact, it’s the longest winless streak in over a year (Nov. 2021).
“We should be really humbled,” said Borek, “because that was brutal.”
Now comes the hard part.
Not only do the Warriors need to figure out a way out of this funk, but they’ll need to do it against the same Providence team that just put up six goals against them last week. The Friars will visit Lawler Arena for two games next weekend.
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From here on out, the Warriors only have Hockey East games on the schedule. Despite these recent struggles, Merrimack is still on pace to finish atop Hockey East. They didn’t lose any ground in the conference standings (in points percentage) because none of these games have been conference games.
Nationally the Warriors dropped to No. 11 in the Pairwise with the loss. Entering the game against Brown last Friday, Merrimack was ranked No. 3.
The way out for Merrimack could be through its experience. The Warriors have leaned on their upperclassmen and leadership core.
“It’s their season,” Borek said. “I can’t scream and yell it into them. They have to do it. That’s all. It’s their season.”
Is this their biggest test?
“In the hockey arena, by far,” Borek said. “By far.
“Will we climb out of it? … We’ll find out.”