NORTH ANDOVER — Mick Messner picked a great time to score his first goal as a Warrior.
The second-year transfer from Wisconsin found the back of the net with 3:42 remaining in the third period to help Merrimack to a 2-2 tie against Dartmouth on Friday night at Lawler Arena.
“He’s playing really hard,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “He’s playing North. I think that our team needs to learn from that, too. When we play North and we play hard, we take guys on with speed, and then we can be a more offensive team. They backed up a lot, so our guys would carry the puck to the middle of the rink but those shots were getting blocked and transitioned. Mick’s done a nice job of playing his game and playing it heavy.”
Messner had appeared in only four of Merrimack’s first 13 games but he’s been a fixture in each of the last three games.
Messner’s goal came just over one minute after Ian Pierce scored his second goal of the game to give the Big Green a 2-1 lead with under five minutes left in the third period.
Merrimack outshot Dartmouth 38-22 and out-attempted the Big Greeb 81-38.
“It was a hard-fought game, we had a lot of chances but we just didn’t finish,” said Borek. “That has been the story for us the last month as we haven’t finished our opportunities. But we certainly created a lot of them.”
The Warriors opened the scoring at the 4:25 mark of the first period. Borek believed he found something last week when he put together Mac Welsher, Alex Jefferies, and Matt Copponi in an exhibition game against the U.S. NTDP. Welsher scored Merrimack’s first goal of the game when he took a feed from Jefferies behind the net for his third of the year.
“(Jefferies) is using his speed,” Borek said. “I thought for sure he was going to score at the end of the game. He’s using his outside speed and he’s using his body to protect the puck and he’s getting more and more confident in his 200-foot game. It’s developing. When he plays as high as he is right now without the puck, it’s going to result in him having the puck a lot more. That’s a good thing for us.”
Merrimack’s lead wouldn’t last long. Pierce found space and scored an unassisted goal two minutes later to tie the score.
The game remained tied through two periods.
Dartmouth had a five-minute power play early in the third period when Liam Walsh was called for a cross-checking major, but the Warriors killed it off.
With 4:42 left in the game, Pierce rang a shot off the pipe and in for his second of the game to give the Big Green a 2-1 lead late in the third period.
“When you give up a goal like that, it can be a backbreaker,” Borek said. “I thought our team bounced back very well.”
Merrimack responded 1:08 later to tie the game again, this time at 2-2, when Messner jammed in a puck that was thrown at the net by Zach Vinnell.
GAME NOTES: Welsher has goals in two straight games. … Max Newton went 18-4 on faceoffs; the Warriors won 34 out of 53 faceoffs as a team. … There was no shootout after the overtime because it was a non-conference game. … This marked the first time in five OT games this season that the Warriors did not allow a goal in the extra session.
NEXT: The Warriors are off until Jan. 1 when they begin a two-game road trip at Yale and Brown.
A version of this story will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Eagle-Tribune
Merrimack 2, Dartmouth 2 at Lawler Arena Dartmouth (2-7-0-1-1): 1-0-1—2 Merrimack (6-5-0-4-1): 1-0-1—2 First Period: 1. MC Mac Welsher 3 (Alex Jefferies, Matt Copponi), ev, 4:25; 2. DC Ian Pierce 1 (unassisted), ev, 6:27. Second Period: None Third Period: 3. DC Ian Pierce 2 (Harrison Markell, Sam Hesler), ev, 15:184; 4. MC Mick Messner 1 (Zach Vinnel, Mike Brown), ev, 16:26. Overtime: None Shots: Merrimack 9-16-12-1—38; Dartmouth 9-7-5-1—22 Saves: MC Borgiel (64:56) 20/22; DC Stevenson (64:56) 36/38 Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 3; Dartmouth 0 for 2 Penalties: Merrimack 4-19:00; Dartmouth 4-8:00 Attendance: 1,022 (2,549)