BOSTON – The Merrimack defensemen scored five goals to lead Merrimack University past Northeastern in a 5-2 victory. The return of Kyle Bigos sparked a physical game in which the defense made all the difference in terms of scoring. Captain Jordan Heywood got it started at 8:44 in the first period to give the Warriors en early 1-0 lead, but assistant captain Ludwig Karlsson answered for the Huskies at the end of the first to even things out.
Heywood notched his second of the night at 19:21 in the first, and the 2-1 score remained until the third period when Bigos got past goaltender Bryan Mountain less than two minutes into play, kicking off a flurry of offense from the Warriors’ defensemen. Brendan Ellis and Dan Kolomatis would also get on the board with goals in the third, Kolomatis’ coming off an empty net opportunity from Merrimack’s own zone.
Northeastern saw a spot of hope when freshman Kevin Roy netted one by flipping the puck up and over the head of goaltender Sam Marotta to give the Huskies their second goal of the night, but it wasn’t enough to get past Merrimack in a frustration and penalty-filled match.
The two teams will meet again Saturday at Merrimack for part two of the home-and-home weekend.
What I Saw
- Kyle Bigos is back in a big way after suffering a lower-body injury in the season opener. His physical play gave Merrimack the boost they needed after a start that included a loss to Northeastern and a pair losses at the hands of Alaska-Fairbanks. His goal came at the tail end of a 5-on-3 advantage resulting from boarding from Joe Manno and hitting from behind and a game misconduct for Braden Pimm, but that’s not to discredit Bigos’ contribution. Bigos might bring with him the risk of penalty minutes, but the commanding play he brought tonight only means good things for Merrimack.
- While Bigos brought reward with his risky physical play, Northeastern’s forwards displayed a complete lack of discipline. Hitting from behind and boarding were generally the penalties of choice, and the Huskies paid for it with 27 penalty minutes on eight calls. Frustration mounted when they couldn’t find the back of the net despite creating promising scoring chances, but some veteran Huskies responded poorly to the difficulties. Northeastern’s forwards have the talent to produce offensively, they just need to settle down in order to turn that talent into wins.
What I Thought
- Bryan Mountain still deserves another chance in net. After his 44-save performance against UNH last weekend, tonight seemed less than spectacular. However, the second Heywood goal was a weak one that seemed to trickle through the goaltender’s pads – one goal Mountain surely would like back. With all the penalty minutes his teammates racked up and the 32 shots Merrimack laid on him, the 27 saves aren’t all that bad. Mountain has a 0-2-1 record in his three games played, but the record doesn’t do justice to his performance.
- Despite the win, Merrimack still needs to focus on disciplined play. Head coach Mark Dennehy pointed out that Bigos still needs to settle down his play, but the same goes for much of the Warrior lineup. They had 26 penalty minutes of their own tonight, and had it not been for Northeastern’s own frustrations those penalties could have cost them.
- “I thought we did a really good job in the first period. They’ve done a really good job this season getting off to a good jump. It’s a dangerous team. I thought we played well enough to win…If you’re going to score goals the way the game is played now, as defensive as it is, your defensemen have to get into a rush and get into the play. I love defenseman that want the puck…it’s definitely part of what we do.” – Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy
- “They played with a lot more intelligence than we did tonight. I wasn’t pleased with how we handled certain situations…Frustration mounts, and there was frustration because we weren’t scoring.” – Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan
- Madigan didn’t comment on whether he’d be personally reprimanding any of his players for their behavior Friday night. Retaliation hits were obvious, and his veterans certainly didn’t display the kind of focus you’d want to set an example for a roster with seven rookies on it. Pimm was obviously visually upset when he was sent off the ice for the night, making a lewd gesture that should earn him a night on the bench if Madigan saw his behavior.