NORTH ANDOVER — You could say that Boston University has been the thorn in Merrimack College’s side. But quite frankly, the Terriers have been more than that.
They’ve been the only team in Hockey East the Warriors failed to beat this season, going winless in three regular-season games and getting outscored 12-4.
And tonight, the Warriors travel to Agganis Arena for the first game in a best-of-3 Hockey East quarterfinal series against BU.
The four goals-per-game the Warriors have allowed to BU is startling, but defense and goaltending is far from the source of Merrimack’s struggles.
The 1.33 goals per game, well that’s another story.
After going 8-2-2 to start 2013, moving up the Hockey East standings and all the way into first place in mid-February, the Warriors finished the season 1-5.
Over the course of the season’s final six games, Merrimack scored a paltry eight goals, half of which came in a 4-3 overtime win against UMass last Friday.
In those five losses, the Warriors scored four goals. Four!
Sam Marotta, Merrimack’s junior goaltender, has been stellar since Jan. 1 when he took over as Merrimack’s primary starting goaltender. Marotta has gone 9-5-2 since then, allowing just 1.99 goals per game and posting a save percentage of .934. Those numbers put Marotta in the top-13 nationally in both categories over that timespan.
But against BU, Marotta allowed three goals in the first period before taking a seat for Rasmus Tirronen. In November, against the same BU team, Marotta allowed three goals on 25 shots in a 3-1 Merrimack loss.
If the Warriors are going to beat the Terriers this weekend, Marotta needs to be at his best.
With an offense struggling to find the net, Marotta needs to steal games.
The former BC High goaltender has worked tirelessly the last two years, prepping for this season with the graduation of All-American Joe Cannata last season.