NORTH ANDOVER — The opening five minutes of the second period saw Merrimack College unravel in a 6-1 loss to Providence College last night at Lawler Arena, marking the Warriors' worst home loss since a Jan. 2007 defeat to Boston College by the same score.
It's also the first time No. 1 Merrimack was swept in a home-and-home Hockey East series since a Feb. 2009 series against UNH after the Friars upset Merrimack, 2-1, at Schneider Arena on Friday night.
Merrimack's undoing started after Jordan Heywood was ejected on a questionable contact to the head penalty just 45 seconds into the second period.
With Heywood, one the Warriors' best penalty killers, gone and Ryan Flanigan, another regular on the Merrimack penalty kill, in the box for a 10 minute misconduct Providence went on to strike three times in a 4:05 span on that power play and never looked back.
"I feel bad for the players on both teams," Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said, alluding to the officiating. "There were three teams out there tonight, one good one and two bad ones."
After a relatively even first period — the game was scoreless and shots were 11-9 Providence — the Friars outshot Merrimack 20-5 in the second period, spending 7:08 of the 20 minutes on the power play.
"I don't know what happened in the second and the third," Dennehy said. "I don't know why teams do that, just decide they're going to take penalties. ... It's too bad, I really feel for the players, I know how hard both teams trained for this.
"My biggest struggle is I feel for guys on our bench. They're working hard and not getting rewarded. This is a full-time job for these student athletes. This is a full-time job for these coaching staffs."