Discover more from The Mack Report
Penalties kept coming for Merrimack in opening night loss to ASU
You had to figure it might be difficult for Merrimack to generate offense without top-line center Alex Jefferies in the lineup due to an injury.
It became even more difficult after second-line center Matt Copponi was given a major penalty and ejected for a hit on Arizona State defenseman Ty Murchison late in the first period. Without two top forwards, the Warriors fell 1-0 in overtime to the Sun Devils on opening night.
Copponi's penalty was retaliation for Murchison hitting Merrimack winger Filip Forsmark in the head with a check in the neutral zone. Murchison was also ejected from the game and given a major penalty.
The two majors came at the end of a first period where Merrimack dominated the play. The Warriors ended the opening frame up 15-8 in shots and led that category 20-8 early in the second period.
"I was pleased with how we played," said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. "I thought we tired at the end, but we asked a lot of some of our guys. We played hard, we moved our feet offensively, and had some great chances. We just didn't have enough second chances at the net.
"I was pleased overall. This is a tough place to play, we didn't have Alex and then lost Matt. We asked a lot of some guys at that point and I liked our game and how hard we played."
What Borek didn't like was the penalties. Merrimack went 7 for 7 on the penalty kill, and all those penalties came in the final two periods. The overtime goal was scored just after a penalty to Chase Stevenson expired.
Three of those penalties were tripping minors.
While the Warriors were perfect at killing off the penalties, they disrupted Merrimack’s ability to go on the attack. Merrimack had 20 shots over the first 25 minutes of penalty-free hockey. The Warriors were limited to 11 shots over the final 37 minutes and spent 12:07 on the penalty kill.
"We deserved better than that," Borek said. "I was extremely disappointed in the Big Ten officiating. That was as bad as I've ever seen. Our team deserved better.
"As for our PK, it was excellent. We definitely got tired. Jefferies and Copponi both kill penalties."
Borgiel made 30 saves, including 10 stops with ASU on the power play.
"He played really well, and that wasn't an easy game for him to play," Borek said. "He didn't have to do a lot in the first 30 minutes. I worry about that sometimes, because it can be hard to stay in a rhythm. Then some guys started falling, and he had plenty of chances to make saves with us on the PK, and he did. He played great."
Merrimack and ASU will complete the two-game series tonight at Mullett Arena (8 p.m. ET puck drop).
NOTES: Seven Warriors made their Merrimack debut, including Frank Djurasevic, Michael Citara, Chase Stevenson, Ethan Bono, Ty Daneault, Luke Weilandt, and Mark Gallant. … Citara led Merrimack in shots on goal (4), and Djurasevic led the team in total shot attempts (6).
Arizona State 1, Merrimack 0 (OT) at Mullett Arena Merrimack College (0-1-0): 0-0-0-0--0 Arizona State (1-0-0: 0-0-0-1--1 First Period: None Second Period: None Third Period: None Overtime: 1. ASU Matthew Kopperud 1 (Tim Lovell), ev, 2:33. Shots: Merrimack 15-8-7-1--31 ; ASU 8-10-7-6--31 Saves: MC Borgiel (62:33) 30/31 ; ASU Semptimfelter (62:33) 31/31 Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 3; Arizona State 0 for 7 Penalties: MC 9-29:00; ASU 5-21:00 Faceoffs: MC 32, ASU 31 Attendance: 4,680 (5,000)
The Mack Report is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.