The Takeaway: Harvard Holds on to Tie Merrimack 2-2

Posted by: Josh Seguin

North Andover, Mass.-  Harvard and Merrimack played to a 0-0 deadlock after one period and then Harvard stormed out in the second period to take a 2-0 on one shift. Tommy O Regan scored the first goal of the second period as he found a puck that boucned in the air and put it in the net for a 1-0 Harvard lead three minutes, 13 seconds into the period. But Harvard was not done as O’ Regan found a streaking Desmond Bergin 31 seconds later in the left slot and Bergin put it past Merrimack goalie, Sam Marotta for the 2-0 lead. Merrimack would respond on a shorthanded faceoff at 6:27 of the second period on a goal by Rhett Bly. Five minutes later Mike Collins would send a puck to the back of the net to send the teams into the second intermission tied at two goals apiece.

The teams would skate an even third period to head into overtime. At the end of the third period, Harvard captain Danny Biega took a five minute major for kneeing on Merrimack College forward Brian Christie. This meant that the Warriors were on the power-play for the entire overtime. They killed the penalty and escaped Lawler Arena with a 2-2 tie against Merrimack.

What I Saw

  • Harvard struggled throughout the first period to contain Merrimack. Despite allowing no goals, Merrimack carried play throughout the period and the Harvard coverage on the wall was terrible. If it wasnt for nine blocks by the Crimson defense, the Warriors could have easily left the first period with a lead.
  • Merrimack struggled to finish on many great opportunities in front of the net, especially in the first period. In the first period the Warriors sent six grade A opportunities toward Harvard goaltender, Rafael Girard. The second period was a little better for the Warriors as they got four Grade A’s and capitalized on two of them but it still seemed as though the net presence was lacking at times.
  • Harvard looked a bit rusty at times after a two week layoff but they bailed themselves out blocking a ton of shots. On the night, they blocked 18 shot attempts but allowed 73 shots to be attempted. Their play in the neutral zone wasn’t great but it was enough to leave Merrimack College with a tie.

What I thought

  • This is the first time this season that I have seen Merrimack and I was nothing but impressed with their play along the walls and in the neutral zone. It seemed as though they won a majority of battles on the wall and the shots on goal showed this. As good as they were along the walls it seemed as though they struggled to get bodies in front of the Harvard net for much of the game.
  • Despite having troubles along the wall containing the Merrimack attack, the Crimson had a good game within their zone. They did a good job blocking shots that were dangerous and allowing their goalie to see the puck in most instances. Girard stopped everything he should have and the Crimson kept opposing players from getting in front of him and in his sight-lines.
  • It was seemingly a script that Merrimack would have liked, as they entered the overtime period with a five minute power-play. Throughout the overtime period and power-play the Warriors had their chances to ice the game but the Harvard penalty-kill gritted it out and played for the tie. In the overtime period, the Harvard penalty-kill was non-agressive and had only one forcehcker, while they left three players on the blue line. The Harvard penalty-kill and the lack of offensive production on the Merrimack power-play was the reason this game ended in a tie.

What They Said

Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said,

“I thought we played really well at times, especially in the first in second. In the third period we got a little ratty and ragity and started to play a little up and down the sheet, which is not the way we like to play.”

Harvard coach Ted Donato said,

“I thought with our best player sitting in the box for the whole overtime and having to kill a penalty in the last four minutes of a game, I thought our guys really rallied together and did a lot of good things. There was a lot of life on the bench. We were shorthanded for I think 17 minutes of the game and its not usually a good recipe for staying the game.”

“We did some good things and had some chances to win the game. The goals that we gave up, we made a couple of mental errors but I thought we responded well in third.”

“It was our first time playing in this rink and its a small rink where things happen fast. The boards are very lively but I think we were just a little rusty early. All and all I think we battled and both goalies made some key saves.”

Harvard Forward Tommy O’ Regan said,

“We havent played in a little so I guess I had a lot built up energy for tonight’s game. We came in here and they are a good team. We wanted to get on them early. I got a lucky break off the glass and I was able to put it in for the game’s first goal.”

What Else you Should Know

Harvard will play another non-conference game on Monday night as they host another Hockey East foe, in UMass-Lowell. The Crimson hadn’t played in over two weeks and the rust was clearly evident throughout the early stages of the game. The Crimson are 1-0-1 on the season in non-conference tilts.

Merrimack will play an exhibition tomorrow night against US- Under-18 squad at Lawler Arena and will return to game action next Tuesday against Army. The Warriors are 1-3-2 in non-conference games this season.

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