EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 8, 2013

College Hockey: Warriors take three of four points from BU

By Mike McMahon

---- — BOSTON — After a sluggish start to the season, Merrimack College showed signs of life over the weekend against Boston University, beating the Terriers on Friday night and settling for a 1-1 tie on the road last night at Agganis Arena.

The Warriors fell behind just over a minute into the game when Evan Rodrigues turned a bad Warrior turnover into an odd-man chance in the offensive zone, finding space behind Merrimack goaltender Rasmus Tirronen, who was making his fourth consecutive start for the Warriors.

“It was a backhand pass we made in the middle of the ice instead of just putting it off the glass,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “Coming out of your own zone you can’t turn it over in the middle of the ice.”

The Warriors responded at the 5:53 mark of the second period when 6-foot-4 freshman winger Chris LeBlanc scored the equalizer.

“It was a good weekend for us,” Dennehy said. “It’s a positive.”

The Warriors outshot the Terriers 39-24 and at one point in the second period, owned a 27-4 advantage in shots on goal, out-muscling the Terriers at nearly every turn.

“We had the puck,” Dennehy said. “We established our forecheck and we created some offensive chances.”

Added BU head coach Dave Quinn, “We’re not a big, strong team and they’re a strong, older team.”

The Warriors have finally found a rhythm — which might make this not the best time for a nearly one-month break — but they’re also healed up.

Last night was the first time all season Brian Christie, Mike Collins and Brendan Ellis were all in the lineup for the Warriors. Collins is the Warriors’ top-line left wing and Christie has centered Merrimack’s first and second lines most of his short career. Ellis is one of Merrimack’s top defenseman and arguably their best with the puck.

“Obviously it’s nice to get back on the ice,” Ellis said. “I know for me, I’ve missed enough games so I don’t want (the break), I’d rather keep playing, but it’s also a chance for us to regroup and focus on the second half of the year.”

Christie, Ellis and Collins are all fixtures on Merrimack’s power play, which at times early in the season has been a source of struggles.

“We’re still trying to find our way (on the power play),” said Ellis. “I think the three of us out there are just trying to get comfortable. Now we’ll have the whole break to really work on stuff like that with us all back out there.”

He added, “Brian played great this weekend and you obviously saw what Mike being back out there does for us. The way he played (Friday) he really took over that game.”

Merrimack 1, Boston University 1

at Agganis Arena, Boston

Merrimack College (4-9-2, 1-5-2 HE): 0-1-0-0–1

Boston University (7-7-2, 2-4-1 HE): 1-0-0-0–1

First Period: 1. BU Evan Rodrigues 2 (Robbie Baillargeon, Brendan Collier), ev, 1:47.

Second Period: 2. MC Chris LeBlanc 2 (Craig Wyszomirski), ev, 5:53.

Shots: Merrimack 15-12-10-2–39; Boston U 3-5-10-6–24

Saves: MC Tirronen 23 saves; BU O’Connor 38 saves

Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 4; Boston U 0 for 3

Penalties: Merrimack 3-6; Boston U 4-8

Next: Hosts Russian Red Stars Jan. 2 (7pm)