By Mike McMahon
---- — BOSTON — Merrimack’s lack of offense the past three weeks is startling.
The Warriors have just eight goals in their last seven games, half of which came in a 4-3 win over UMass Amherst last week. Now 1-6 over that span, the Warriors have just four goals in those six losses and have been shut out three times.
Last night, the troubling trend continued for the Warriors, as they were blanked, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Hockey East quarterfinals by Boston University.
The Terriers lead the best-of-3 series 1-0 and can end Merrimack’s season tonight when the teams meet for Game 2 at Agganis Arena.
But for Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy, the most frustrating part wasn’t the lack of offense. Rather, it was his team’s lack of willingness.
“We took the path of last resistance,” Dennehy said. “We have to work harder. They manhandled us.
“There’s some language I used after the game that I’m probably not proud of. We need to play harder. We need to play tougher. We have too many guys that are very satisfied on the periphery of the ice and that’s not where goals are scored.”
The Warriors put 30 shots on BU netminder Sean Maguire, but Dennehy didn’t feel as if any of them were challenging him enough. When asked how he thought Maguire looked, he said, “comfortable.”
Through two periods, the Warriors had just two Grade-A chances, and for the game finished with only six. In the second period, Merrimack didn’t register a single shot attempt from inside the faceoff dots.
“Work hard enough that you draw a penalty,” Dennehy said. “We weren’t stopping and starting on pucks. We weren’t taking hits to make plays. When you’re on a partial breakaway, don’t settle for an off-angle shot. Maybe coming all the way across the net and risking getting hit. A million things.”
The Warriors don’t have much time to figure things out. Tomorrow’s Game 2 could be their final game of the season. The Warriors have no shot at making the NCAA tournament without winning the automatic bid that comes along with winning the Hockey East tournament.
The Terriers’ second goal, scored by Matt Nieto, came after the Warriors failed to mark a man in the defensive zone while Nieto was almost alone in the slot.
“It was awful,” Dennehy said. “They had a guy roaming around our zone and we were marking nobody. (BU) scored goals the way you need to score goals in college hockey. ... You need to go to Grade A and you need to make a living there. We did it once and we got a power play out of it, our guy got knocked down, but we weren’t there enough.”
agateHed:Boston University 3, Merrimack 0
agateText:at Agganis Arena
agateText:Merrimack College (15-15-6, 13-11-3 HE): 0-2-1-3
agateText:Boston University (18-15-2, 15-10-2 HE): 0-0-0-0
agateText:Second Period: 1. BU Wade Megan (Ahti Oksanen, Patrick MacGregor), ev, 6:10; 2. BU Matt Nieto 17 (Evan Rodrigues, Ahti Oksanen), ev, 16:48.
agateText:Third Period: 3. BU Ryan Santana 2 (Danny O’Regan, Matt Nieto), pp, 0:55.
agateText:Shots: Merrimack ; Boston University
agateText:Goalies: MC Marotta ; BU Maguire
agateText:Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 4; Boston University 1 for 8
agateText:Penalties: Merrimack 9-18; Boston University 6-12
agateText:Attendance: 2,768 (6,150)
agateText:Next: at BU tonight, 7 (BU leads series 1-0)