By Connor Powell ‘20
“And that will do it! The Warrior’s come up empty handed.”
A phrase that fans of the Merrimack College Men’s Hockey team have come used to hearing early on in this young 2017-2018 season. Although they have gotten off to a rough start, they have faced some of the top teams in the country all away from home.
The Warriors started off their season by playing two games at Colgate University, in Madison County, N.Y. They came away from the weekend with one loss and one tie.
After a tough weekend in New York, the team had a chance to come home for a big game against #10 Wisconsin. They ended up losing this game 4-1 in a pretty convincing fashion.
After a tough loss to a talented team, Merrimack then had to travel halfway across the country to Minnesota, where they would take on the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Just when you think Wisconsin was a tough matchup, Duluth was ranked #9 in the nation, just ahead of Wisconsin. They battled hard the first game and came away with a tie, but the second game had a much different ending. The Warrior’s ended up losing 7-2 in a blowout.
After a loss like that, something needs to change and that’s what Merrimack coach, Mark Dennehy did.
“We need to get better in a lot of ways defensively and goaltending is one of them. Drew (Vogler) has gotten the bulk of it and played well at times for sure, but we need better.”
That’s just what Merrimack got on Oct. 28 against the University of Massachusetts at Amherst at home. Dennehy decided to start goaltending Craig Pantano for the first time in his collegiate career. Merrimack played a way they had yet to play like all year and beat the Minutemen 4-2 at Lawler Arena.
“Last night we played a complete game. We broke the puck out of our zone well which led to more time in the offensive zone rather than the D zone. We did a good job playing fast and dictating the pace of the game,” said Freshman defenseman Dominic Dockery.
Starting off your season with six of your first games being away from home is a hard thing to do especially in hockey. Momentum and confidence is such a big thing in the sport and Dockery agrees.
Freshman defenseman Dominic Dockery also said, “It’s always nice playing at home with your own fans bringing positive energy. I would say we’re confident playing anywhere but playing at home is lot more special and nobody wants to lose in front of their home crowd.”
Although Merrimack’s record does not show it, they have been playing decently well. They have faced some of the best teams in college hockey and have the stats to support it.
Merrimack is one of the top teams in terms of shots per game in the NCAA. They faced a goalie who is a second round NHL draft pick, twice in two days. And if it was not for goal called back against Minnesota, Duluth they would have come away with a win and a loss.
The Warriors have also only faced one team in Hockey East, which is their own division and that was UMASS. That will change with the upcoming schedule being filled with plenty of opportunities to turn the season around.
The Men’s team faces off against Boston College on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 in a home in home series giving them a chance to jump right back up in the Hockey East standings.
Unfortunately though, it was more of what you have seen all season from Merrimack. They fought hard in the two game set, but came away empty losing both games by a score of 2-1.
You could see the anger of the team at the end of the second game when there was a scrap in front of the Boston College net with 1.6 seconds remaining in the 3rd period.
Hopefully soon, the Warriors can tighten the ship within the next couple games. They play Bentley on Friday November 12th. This is a huge game for them to get them going in the right direction.