In an energetic and fast-paced start to the weekend, the No. 8 Boston University men’s hockey team (9-3) and the Merrimack College Warriors (5-10-2) packed the stat sheet with a six-goal first period. The Terriers gave up three goals in three minutes before climbing back into the game with two of their own, but fell 5-2 after 60 minutes.
Merrimack started out hot with a ton of energy in the first twenty minutes and had lots to show for it, but it didn’t start off quite as clean. Sophomore defenseman Declan Carlile suffered a hit early in the period and couldn’t get up while the play was reviewed, but ultimately, the game continued and the teams carried on without a penalty.
Ten minutes later, the Warriors opened the floodgates into what would be one of the most offensive periods of the Terrier season thus far. Junior forward Mick Messner interrupted a Terrier clearing attempt and poked the puck to sophomore forward Regan Kimens who was able to nail it past Vinny Duplessis in net. Less than 50 seconds later, the Warriors were able to double their lead when some confusion in the neutral zone gave sophomore forward Ryan Nolan and Carlile a two-on-one advantage with an easy cross-ice pass and goal in front of the net.
“Obviously they won the game in the first period with the goals they scored,” head coach Albie O’Connell said. “I thought Merrimack beat us. It’s not that we beat ourselves, Merrimack beat us.”
Two minutes after the Carlile goal, Merrimack shot a third one past Duplessis. A collision between Patrick Kramer and sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong left senior defenseman Patrick Holway alone at the top of the circle, giving the Warriors a 3-0 lead.
After the third goal, O’Connell called a Terrier time-out and made a goaltending switch that proved successful for the following two minutes, but ultimately wasn’t enough to get the team into the win column.
“Well they responded, you know… I think we started to get some momentum and then [Merrimack] scored a goal off a faceoff play that we just had the wrong coverage on.” O’Connell continued. “Our guys are competitive, by nature and, you know, you tip your cap there, but we’ve got to be way better if we want to win tomorrow.”
Duplessis, now 4-1 in wins, was relieved by freshman netminder Drew Commesso during the time out. Commesso made his return tonight after not having played since the January 23 win against the University of Maine.
“I thought Commesso played terrific,” O’Connell said.
Following the timeout, senior defenseman David Farrance was able to pick up right where he left off with a goal that seemed to get the ball rolling for BU. Farrance picked up the puck right off the faceoff and danced around the Merrimack defender with a wrister and a goal. The Hobey Baker nominee hasn’t played for the Terriers since the series with Maine either but made his return known with the goal.
A minute and a half after the Farrance goal, sophomore blueliner Alex Vlasic sent a snipe down the middle to Merrimack’s sophomore netminder Jere Huhtamaa that was tipped in by Terrier forward Matthew Quercia, cutting the game to a one goal difference. Unfortunately for the Terriers, this would be the last time BU would light the lamp for the evening.
The first period concluded with one more goal from the Warriors as sophomore forward Liam Walsh was left alone at the point. Walsh’s goal was the last the Warrior’s would get through a Terrier goalie, until their final tally in the third period.
After a fast-paced opening frame, the teams stayed silent throughout the next 40, but the Terriers headed onto the ice with a bit more edge than they started with. Sophomore forward Wilmer Skoog had a fantastic opportunity in the later half of the second period, but couldn’t get the puck through Huhtamma. Minutes later, sophomore defenseman Case McCarthy’s shot from the point rang off the Warrior’s goal, and the game remained 4-2.
“I think we’re gonna have to raise our level of compete… they wanted a little bit more than we did. We haven’t lost a game in regulation since the first game of the year, not a time to hit the panic button, but a time to to amp it up and raise your competitive spirit,” the head coach said.
In a game that was so productive offensively, only three penalties were taken but neither team could convert on the man-advantage. Farrance’s slashing penalty shifted the mood on the Terrier bench, and was one of the reasons for the Terrier loss in O’Connell’s eyes.
“After that penalty, just, the bench just didn’t have a great feel to it compared to some of the other nights.”
The final stanza was full of Terrier frustration as the boys in scarlet saw chances but couldn’t get through Huhtamma. 15 minutes into the third Holway headed to the box for a tripping penalty that could’ve shifted momentum in favor of the Terriers, but the team was unable to score. Sophomore Jay O’Brien took a penalty six minutes later, but the score remained 4-2.
To top off the scoring for the night, Merrimack’s Liam Dennison sealed the Warrior victory with an empty net goal late in the third.
“We looked a little bit tired, to be honest with you. We looked like we didn’t have the legs, I think the shift lengths were a little bit long and when you’re down, some selfishness comes in,” O’Connell said. “I look forward to playing tomorrow. Tonight is going to be brutal but I look forward to tomorrow.”
The teams will head to North Andover tomorrow to play the Warriors at home at 4pm, with coverage on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog.