CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — On a night overshadowed by Boston College coach Jerry York’s 900th win, the Eagles defeated Merrimack, 4-2, in one of their most thorough and dominate performances to date.
BC maintained ground in its race for first place, while Merrimack slipped to fifth with the loss.
The Eagles controlled the game from the start of the first period and built a 4-2 lead by the end of the second. A hard-fought final frame was not enough for the Warriors to overcome the deficit.
What I Saw
The Eagles sustained pressure from the start of the game to build consistent puck possession and create a significant shot disparity in their favor (11-1 first period, 15-9 second). As is typically the case, the BC defensemen were dominate, specifically the pairing of Brian Dumoulin and Patrick Wey.
Though Merrimack battled harder in the third period (and scored early in the period), it was not enough to win. The Warriors reversed the trend and tripled BC’s shot total in the period, scoring once.
What I Thought
Until he surrendered the fourth goal of the game late in the second period, Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata wasn’t having a horrible night in goal given BC’s dominate puck possession. However, Paul Carey directed a shot through the right slot that slipped through the traffic in front and the goalie’s legs. It was hard to tell if Cannata saw the puck, but it was a save he usually makes.
Though his team showed resolve and scored less than two minutes later, the result did not appear to be in doubt if BC maintained its pressure through the third. A 25 save, four goals-allowed performance is not consistent with Cannata’s standards, but he was far from horrible Friday night.
With two highly disciplined teams, it was a clean and well-played contest. There were only four penalties, discounting two sets of matching minors for roughing and slashing.
As Hockey East boasts some of the most penalized teams in the nation, it was refreshing to watch these teams play 60 minutes of efficient hockey. Teams like Boston University take a large quantity of penalties (most penalized team in the nation), while others such as UMass take untimely ones and have below-average penalty kill units.
Neither characterized the teams playing at the Conte Forum. This game was destined to be won primarily on the merit of each team’s even-strength play. Though Barry Almedia’s power-play goal in the second was devastating for Merrimack’s chances to get back into the game, the Warriors stood leading chances given BC’s control of five-on-five play.
What They Said
“This win keeps us in the race for the pennant,” York said. “It’s a tremendous year for Hockey East, since five teams still have a chance to win it this late in the season.”
“The team that showed up here ready to play, won the game tonight,” Dennehy said. The coach also hinted that he would redesign his line-up for tomorrow’s game. He also acknowledged his confidence in the situation given that his team has enjoyed recent success at home against BC.
The Merrimack coach also congratulated York on his 900 wins and emphasized the difficulty of reaching such a milestone through stops at three different programs. He also quipped, “900 wins, my goodness, at the rate I’ll be 275 [years old] before I reach that plateau.”
What Else You Should Know
Wey scored his first goal of the season in the second period. The defenseman missed most of the first half of the season with a broken foot. He said after the game that he finally feels like he’s playing the same quality of hockey as before the injury.
The teams finish the second half of the home-and-home series Saturday night in North Andover. The Warriors desperately need points if they hope to stay in contention for the Hockey East regular season title. Its current fifth place standing will be difficult to improve, as the team faces first-place UMass Lowell in a pair of games next weekend.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have a much easier road left with two games each against Providence and Vermont (three at home).