NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Merrimack gave Providence eight power plays in the second period, including a five-minute major and an extended 5-on-3, and the Friars capitalized en route to a 6-1 win and a weekend sweep of the previously undefeated Warriors (9-2-1, 6-2-1 HE). Jordan Heywood was ejected for contact to the head just 45 seconds into the second, and Providence (8-6-1, 6-3-0 HE) scored three times on the ensuing five-minute power play with two goals from Drew Brown and another from Tim Schaller. The Friars finished the game 5-for-13 on the man advantage.
What I saw
-The Friars totally dominated the second period. They got the five-minute power play when Heywood was ejected, and that proved to be all they needed in terms of an opening. They scored three goals on the extended man advantage and maintained the momentum from there. Providence wound up registering 12 of the period’s first 13 shots and outshooting the Warriors 20-5 in the frame.
-There was a lot of hitting and a lot of extracurricular activity. Friday’s game in Providence was a physical one according to those who were there, and that animosity definitely carried over into Saturday’s game. “We don’t like them and they don’t like us,” Heywood said during a TV interview after the first period. Heywood then proved his own point with his hit to the head early in the second. Both teams finished their checks all game, and seemingly every other whistle resulted in some sort of shoving match.
What I thought
-Merrimack’s two misconducts in 45 seconds of game time were the turning point. Heywood’s major and misconduct stand out because the Warriors gave up three goals while trying to kill it, but lost in the shuffle was Ryan Flanigan’s 10-minute misconduct at the end of the first period. The senior went after Providence’s Daniel New after the buzzer because New had fired a shot on net from center ice. The problem with that was that New’s shot came well before the buzzer, so there was no reason for Flanigan to take exception. As a result, Merrimack had to try to kill Heywood’s major without one of its top penalty killers in Flanigan.
-Both goalies played great in the first period. Beaudry thwarted a pair of Merrimack odd-man rushes and made another nice save when Rhett Bly collected a rebound off the end boards and tried stuffing it inside the post. Cannata didn’t face quite as many quality chances at the other end, but he did deny a golden chance by Damian Cross when the forward blew by a Warrior defender and came in alone. The goaltending duel deteriorated in the second, as Cannata was peppered by Providence’s power play while Beaudry was barely tested.
What they said
“There were three teams out there tonight — one good one and two bad ones. … I don’t understand the goaltender rule. If he comes out of the net, you can’t hit him, but you can knock into a goalie as much as you want when he’s in his crease. I just don’t understand it. The goalie should have the right to his crease, and I felt like both nights, our potential Hobey Baker candidate was knocked around. And unfortunately, this isn’t the NHL, so we don’t go Lucic vs. whoever [to settle it]. There’s nothing you can do.” -Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy
Obviously the good team Dennehy referred to would be Providence, while the two bad ones would be Merrimack and the referees. Safe to say Dennehy might be getting a phone call from Hockey East this week, as the league doesn’t usually take too kindly to coaches calling out its officiating in the media.
What else you should know
-The Friars won Friday’s meeting in Providence 2-1 in overtime. Ross Mauermann scored the game-winner 1:54 into the extra session.
-Merrimack was without forward Elliott Sheen and defenseman Dan Kolomatis, who were both injured in the first period of Friday’s game.
-Dennehy benched Flanigan for the remainder of the game after his 10-minute misconduct. The assistant captain sat on the bench for the last half of the second and was then seen in street clothes during the third.
-Connor Toomey scored the lone goal for Merrimack. The freshman from Billerica now has four goals in his last four games. He appeared to score a second goal a few minutes later, but it was waved off after a review for being kicked in.
-Merrimack’s Jesse Todd was also ejected from the game for a vicious hit from behind on Matt Bergland with 7:06 left in the game. Bergland was looking for a puck in his skates in the corner, and Todd finished a hard check right to the numbers on the back of his jersey. Bergland, who was slow to get up, got his revenge by scoring on the resulting power play.
-To cap off Merrimack’s string of early exits, Dennehy was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct with 1:50 left in the game after arguing with the officials.