NORTH ANDOVER — A little over one week ago, in this same building, Merrimack College beat Boston College in overtime. This time, it was the Eagles’ turn.
A Patrick Brown shot with just over 2:37 to play in the extra session was stopped by Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta, deflecting it away with his right pad. But, a defensive-zone error left Quinn Smith wide open to pounce on the rebound, giving the Eagles a 2-1 win here at Lawler Arena.
Smith was left open after two Merrimack defenders tried to crash on the puck and were taken out of the play by BC’s Brooks Dyroff, who was charging towards the crease, looking for the rebound. That allowed the puck to land softly on Smith’s stick and he found an opening past Marotta, who was sprawled on the ice trying to get across the crease for the save.
“We didn’t mark a guy,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy explained. “We went to the puck instead of neutralizing the player. It’s hard to be disciplined in that area, but if you aren’t, it can end up in the back of the net, like it did right there to us.”
Merrimack had a golden opportunity in the third period thanks to a 5-on-3 power play after both Patrick Wey and Steven Whitney were whistled for infractions. But, Merrimack couldn’t convert and after the 5-on-3 advantage, had trouble finding the offensive zone, so BC’s high-pressure penalty kill kept the puck pinned down the other end of the ice.
“We had one good look,” Dennehy said. “We weren’t executing. The puck wasn’t zipping around. Their penalty kill was excellent, but we had an unforced error on that 5-on-3, put it right on their guy’s stick, and that’s unacceptable. That’s not being thorough. It’s signs we were not completely locked in.”
The Warriors outshot the Eagles 44-28, but BC netminder Parker Milner turned aside 43 shots. Shawn Bates was the only Warrior to beat Milner, in the first period, jamming away at an uncovered loose puck by the crease and scoring his sixth goal of the season. Bates now has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in his last five games.
“Turnabout is fair play,” Dennehy said. “BC did a good job of coming in and bending but not breaking. Their goaltender played very well and their PK was excellent. We worked hard, exerted a lot of energy.”
Marotta auditions for Sportscenter
Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta made two of the saves of the year in the third period. First, he dove across the crease to get a stick on a Bill Arnold attempt as the BC forward slid across the front with the puck on his forehand. Later in the period, he somehow managed to get a glove on a point-blank Danny Linell one-timer in front.
“I like the way our goalie played,” Dennehy said. “He saved our bacon a couple of times.”
Devastating Pairwise loss
With the loss, Merrimack falls to No. 24 in the Pairwise rankings (the top-16 make the NCAA tournament). However, the Warriors would climb to either No. 22 or 23, pending the result of a late game between Wisconsin and Penn State.
The Warriors entered the game at No. 18 and would have climbed all the way to No. 13 with a win. With a tie, they would have stood still in the No. 18 spot.
With games still remaining against Boston University (Tuesday), Lowell (next weekend) and likely a Hockey East quarterfinal series against a strong Pairwise opponent, the Warriors’ NCAA hopes aren’t thrashed quite yet. But, saying wins are now critical would be an understatement.
In Hockey East, Merrimack is alone in fourth place (the final home-ice playoff spot), trailing a three-way tie for first by just one point. Boston College, New Hampshire and Providence are all tied for the league’s top spot.
agateHed:Boston College 2, Merrimack College 1 (OT)
agateText:at Lawler Arena
Boston College (18-8-3, 13-7-2 HE): 1-0-0-1–2
Merrimack College (14-11-6, 12-7-3 HE): 1-0-0-0–1
agateText:First Period: @zzAgate:agateText:1. BC Steven Whitney 20 (Bill Arnold), ev, 6:32; 2. MC Shawn Bates 6 (Ben Bahe, Vinny Scotti), pp, 12:43.
agateText:Overtime:@zzAgate:agateText: 3. BC Quinn Smith 6 (Patrick Brown, Michael Matheson), ev, 2:23.
agateText:Shots:@zzAgate:agateText: Merrimack 20-11-11-2–44 ; Boston College 7-9-11- 1–28
agateText:Saves:@zzAgate:agateText: MC Marotta 28 shots, 26 saves; BC Milner 44 shots, 43 saves
agateText:Power Play:@zzAgate:agateText: Merrimack 1 for 4; Boston College 0 for 1
agateText:Penalties:@zzAgate:agateText: Merrimack 1-2; Boston College 5-10
agateText:Faceoffs@zzAgate:agateText:: 55-35 Merrimack
agateText:Attendance:@zzAgate:agateText: 2,489 (2,489)
agateText:Next:@zzAgate:agateText: at BU Tuesday, 7