Reacting to Merrimack's 2OT win over Boston College
NORTH ANDOVER — Unquestionably, last night’s 1-0 Merrimack win over Boston College in double overtime was the best hockey game I’ve ever witnessed inside Lawler Arena.
It was right up there with Tuesday night’s thrilling 67-66 win for the Merrimack men’s basketball team to capture the NEC Championship.
Two exhilarating endings, two different sports, four nights apart.
What a week.
Here are some thoughts on Merrimack’s win over Boston College …
Merrimack rolled four lines, and it paid off
Credit to Boston College, I kept expecting them to show fatigue but the Eagles did not … at least not during the first overtime. BC played on Wednesday night, and Merrimack had the night off. The Eagles doubled-shifted the Cutter Gauthier line, while Merrimack rolled all four lines the entire game.
But BC dug deep and found a way to keep its energy level high. The first five minutes of the first overtime were excruciatingly stressful for the Warriors. The Eagles had chances and put 13 shots on Hugo Ollas.
However, fatigue started to show in the second overtime. The ice was getting worse, and the game's pace slowed. That’s when Ryan Leibold fired up the jets and beat a handful of Eagles down the left side of the ice, which set up Mick Messner’s game-winning goal.
“We have four lines, and because we rolled them I think we were fresher,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “It was important that we played everyone. There is not a guy on our bench that I would feel comfortable sitting down right now. Everyone is playing hard and we’re getting production out of everybody.”
Merrimack’s lines were shuffled once the game got deep into overtime. Players were cramping up and there was a mad dash for Gatorade and bananas during the intermission between the first and second overtime periods.
“There were times where we just looked and tried to find out who were the freshest guys to go out and play,” Borek said.
It was just another hurdle for this Merrimack team to hop over. They’ve cleared every single one so far this season.
“This is definitely the longest game I’ve ever played,” Leibold said. “It was a bit of a learning experience on the fly for me, and I think some other guys. Staying on top of fluids is huge and our trainer Derek (Lautieri) was a huge help making sure that we didn’t cramp up. He was great.”
It helps that Lautieri knows a little something about endurance. He has competed in two ironman half-distance triathlons, several Olympic and sprint distance triathlons, and four half-marathons.
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Ollas saved the season in the first overtime
With 5:23 left in the first overtime, Cutter Gauthier had the game on his stick.
Unfortunately for him, Hugo Ollas saved the game with his glove.
That was Ollas’ biggest save of the night. He couldn't have looked more relaxed as he snatched the puck and flipped it back to the linesman — cool as a cucumber.
He might have been the most relaxed person in the building.
“For me, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Ollas said about keeping his composure. “The game was long, and it started to slow down. There were not many chances against me because my teammates did such a good job. I just kept playing, and I didn’t really think about the time or anything like that.”