The Takeaway: Merrimack and Colgate tie up, 1-1

Posted by: Mike McMahon

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack College and Colgate skated to a 1-1 tie on Friday afternoon at J. Thom Lawler Arena. A first-period goal by Mike Collins put the Warriors on the board and Joe Wilson knotted things up early in the second period.

Freshman netminder Spencer Finney stopped 23 shots for the Raiders (6-6-2) while the Warriors (4-6-2) were backstopped by Rasmus Tirronen, who made 21 saves.

What I Saw

Both goals were nearly identical. Mike Collins’ first-period tally (his 7th of the season) came Finney put a pad on a Brendan Ellis shot from the point and Collins was able to sweep the puck around Finney’s right pad. The Raiders lone goal came after a Brendan Corcoran shot was blocked in the slot and the puck deflected right on the stick of Joe Wilson, who had Tirronen beat on the far side.

Colgate senior, and leading scorer, Robbie Bourdon was assessed a “kicking” penalty in the second period. Originally posted as a game misconduct and a five-minute major, the penalty was later ruled a game disqualification, meaning he’ll miss the Raiders’ next game against St. Lawrence next Friday. Though admittedly I’m a bit cloudy on the details, to my understanding, he will be able to appeal the suspension under new NCAA legislation implemented this season.

What I Thought

Honestly, it wasn’t a fun game to watch. I can’t imagine it was a fun game to play, either. Bodies were flying all over the ice and the teams shrunk the Lawler Arena ice sheet, clogging the neutral zone with both teams doing a real nice job getting their bodies in shooting lanes and blocking most of what was thrown at the net.

Mike Collins has taken his game to another level for the Warriors. Last season, seven of his 10 goals were scored on the power play. This year, he’s been, by far, the Warriors’ best player. He netted his seventh goal in 12 games in this one and it was his sixth of the year at even strength. With the graduation of guys like Ryan Flanigan and Jesse Todd last season, the Warriors needed their top returning scorer to step up his play, and he has. But on top of that, Collins is one of the ones leading Merrimack in the “dirty” areas, too. He’s backchecking incredibly hard up through the neutral zone and he’s been a master at blocking shots from the point.

Both goaltenders looked strong. Colgate’s Spencer Finney helped his team survive an early flurry, where the Warriors put nine shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the game. At the other end, Rasmus Tirronen made some tough saves through traffic, including getting his shoulder on a puck during an overtime power play for the Raiders that would have ended the game.

What They Said
“I think sometimes we’re easily satisfied,” Dennehy said. “We don’t necessarily have that business-like approach to what we’re doing. Whether it’s up 3-0 at Boston College (last week) and there’s some smiles, and we have a lot of guys who haven’t been in that position before, and if they had, it was in juniors and they were so much better than the other team they would just cruise to victory. Nothing is ever secure at the Division 1 college hockey level. That’s one thing we need to work on, that killer instinct.” – Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy

“The shot from the top for sure (we wanted to take away on the penalty kill). They’re effective with it, so we spent a lot of times this week making sure we were willing to get in front of pucks and plug up shooting lanes and we did a pretty good job of that.” – Colgate head coach Don Vaughn on what he wanted to take away from Merrimack’s power play. The Raiders killed all five Warrior chances, including a five-minute major.

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