BOSTON — Merrimack College did everything but win Game 1 of the Hockey East Quarterfinals, falling to Boston College 1-0 at Conte Forum despite outshooting the Eagles 37-13.
Ed. Note — This story will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
The Warriors will need to win Game 2 tonight at BC in order to extend their season; if necessary, Game 3 would be Sunday evening at Conte Forum.
Merrimack thoroughly dominated the opening period, outshooting BC 11-2 and limiting the Eagles to just three shot attempts. That was the story for most of the opening two periods; the Warriors at one point had a 21-2 edge in shots on goal.
BC goaltender Joe Woll made 37 saves — tying a career high — for his second shutout in his last four starts.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy. “You can’t get confidence from a loss, that’s why they keep score, but our guys know we need a little more concerted effort, but we know we can make this a series.”
Outshooting the Eagles 22-6 through two periods (11-2 in the first, 11-4 in the second), the Warriors trailed 1-0 on the scoreboard after a BC power-play goal late in the second period.
Connor Moore broke through for the Eagles with just 2:52 left in the second, on what was somehow just BC’s fourth shot on goal in more than 37 minutes.
“Our flank guy was down too low,” Dennehy said. “We need to seal that. We can’t allow that shot, and if we do, if needs to be a higher shot. We need to be higher there. … That was the only real gaffe.”
Merrimack successfully killed a 5-on-3 power play in the third period.
“One of the things I’ve really liked about this team over the last seven games is we can get life from stuff like that,” Dennehy said. “Blocked shots, a killed penalty, we need to get life off little things like that.”
The Warriors had chances in the third, including an early power play. Merrimack pulled goaltender Craig Pantano with 2:29 left after a timeout for the extra attacker and the Warriors continued to pressure. Merrimack’s best chance with the extra skater came when Brett Seney tried to stuff a puck under the glove of Woll, but ultimately, the Warriors ran out of time.
Merrimack limited BC’s shot totals early in the game, in particular, because of strong play in the middle of the ice, smothering BC’s possession in the neutral zone and chipping the puck the other way.
“We did a good job in the middle of the rink,” Dennehy said. “It got a little loose in the second period. We got a little cute at times on scoring chances, and gaining zones, so that second period was a little too up-and-down for me, but overall we did a good job.”
BC was able to open up their chances later in the game, using the glass to get pucks behind the Merrimack defense instead of trying to carry it into the zone.
Merrimack sophomore defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic, in particular, was strong in the middle of the rink with an active stick.
“I told him after the game, that was as good as I’ve seen him play,” Dennehy said. “We need that effort from him going forward.”
Boston College 1, Merrimack 0 Boston College leads series, 1-0 Merrimack College (12-20-4): 0-0-0—0 Boston College (19-13-3): 0-1-0—1 1st Period Scoring - None Penalties - Michael Karow, BC (Boarding) 16:34 2nd Period Scoring - 1, BC Connor Moore/4 (Graham McPhee/10, Aapeli Räsänen/11) 17:08 (PP) (GW) Penalties - Christopher Grando, BC (Kneeing) 2:17; Michael Babcock, MER (Tripping) 16:00 3rd Period Scoring - None Penalties - Aapeli Räsänen, BC (Interference) 4:41; Tyler Irvine, MER (Hooking) 10:20; Aaron Titcomb, MER (Cross-Checking) 11:10 Merrimack Goaltending - Craig Pantano (57:40, 13 shots, 12 saves, 1 GA); Empty Net (2:20, 0 GA) Boston College Goaltending - Joseph Woll (60:00, 37 shots, 37 saves, 0 GA) Win - Joseph Woll, BC (16-10-2). Loss - Craig Pantano, MER (11-13-2). Shots On Goal - MER 11-11-15=37; BC 2-4-7=13 Power Plays - MER 0 of 3; BC 1 of 3 Penalties - MER 3 (6 min); BC 3 (6 min)