BOSTON — Sometimes young teams need to learn hard lessons.
Merrimack College head coach Mark Dennehy hopes that last night was one of those moments.
Falling behind three goals in the first eight minutes of the game, the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to Northeastern at Matthews Arena in the Hockey East opener for both teams.
The loss comes just four days after the Warriors topped then fifth-ranked Union, 4-1, on the road.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Dennehy said. “I felt like the guy at the top of the Titanic screaming ‘iceberg!’ this week. To quote Bill Gates, which we did, ‘Success is a terrible teacher. It fools smart people into thinking they can’t lose.’ We beat Union, the No. 5 team in the country, and then we didn’t practice well after that. It goes hand in hand, and the sooner our guys understand that the better we’ll be.”
Merrimack’s defensive-zone coverage lacked urgency and organization the first 10 minutes of the game.
Garrett Vermeersch was left alone in the slot and tipped in a slap pass from Colton Saucerman just 53 seconds into the game. Four minutes later, Joseph Manno walked in uncontested and flipped a backhand shot over the shoulder of sophomore goaltender Rasmus Tirronen. Four minutes after that, Kevin Roy was left by himself on the doorstep and was fed a one-timer after Merrimack failed to clear the puck from the zone on the penalty kill.
It was uncharacteristic of a Merrimack team whose foundation is defense.
The Finnish-born Tirronen was starting his first career game after missing all of last season — he was allowed to practice with the team — due to an issue with his NCAA paperwork, which isn’t uncommon for European players.
“He played fine,” Dennehy said. “Of the three he gave up, I’m not sure any were his fault. He was not our problem.”