NORTH ANDOVER — It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day there are no style points in hockey.
Merrimack beat Bentley 3-1 last night here at Lawler Rink, including a Dan Kolomatis empty-net tally with four seconds left. But it wasn’t the type of effort Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy would like to see heading into next weekend’s Hockey East opener here against Providence.
The Warriors, thoroughly outplayed through two periods but still tied 1-1 on the scoreboard, were helped by three third-period power plays, including a five-minute major to Derek Bacon for contact to the head.
“We talk about wanting to get better every day and I’m not sure we got better today, but we played well enough to win,” Dennehy said.
“I want to tip by cap to Coach (Ryan) Soderquist and his team because that team is really good. They have some really skilled forwards. When we started the third period the ice was wet, and I don’t think that was from the Zamboni. I think that was from saliva because when that puck turns over they salivate, and they’re so good in transition.”
Rasmus Tirronen was Merrimack’s saving grace, and the game’s No. 1 star, making 22 saves to earn his second win of the season. Tirronen, a junior, is now 2-0 on the year with a 1.71 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
“Ras was our best player tonight,” Dennehy said. “I thought he was excellent and made some pretty big saves.”
But the play in front of Tirronen remains a concern.
Merrimack was outshot by Bentley 14-13 through two periods. Bolstered by several power plays, the Warriors outshot the visitors 12-6 in the third.
“We didn’t make them defend enough,” Dennehy said. “Our gameplan was to get the puck in behind them and grind and we just didn’t seem interested in doing that for the first two periods. ... Over the last two years we have a tendency to fall back on that and get infatuated with trying to make plays.” The Warriors host Providence Friday at 7 p.m.
Merrimack 3, Bentley 1
at Lawler Rink, Merrimack College
Bentley University (1-6-0): 0-1-0–1
Merrimack College (3-3-0): 0-1-2–3
Second Period: 1. MC Quinn Gould 3 (Brian Christie, Justin Hussar), ev, 11:15; 2. BU Alex Grieve 4 (Brett Gensler), ev, 19:44.
Third Period: 3. MC Hampus Gustafsson 2 (Mike Collins, Chris LeBlanc), pp, 10:37; 4. MC Dan Kolomatis 2 (unassisted), eng, 19:55.
Shots: Merrimack 5-18-12–25 (51 attempts); Bentley 7-7-8–22 (46 attempts)
Saves: MC Tirronen 22 shots, 21 saves; BU Komm 24 shots, 22 saves
Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 5; Bentley 0 for 4
Penalties: Merrimack 6-12; Bentley 7-25
Faceoffs: 35-29 Merrimack
Next: Hosts Providence Friday, 7 p.m.