Marcus Antonelli – Sports Editor
Patrick Casey – Sports Writer
Photo by Nate Tacey (@natetaceyphotography)
BOSTON, Ma. — The Warriors had a blue Christmas the last time they walked into Agganis Arena. In the final conference matchup of the 2023 calendar year on Dec. 2nd, the top ranked team in the nation had defeated Merrimack in a 5-2 victory.
In Round 3, the final matchup between the No. 3 Boston University Terriers (19-7-1, 13-4-1 HE) and Merrimack College (10-17-1, 3-13-1 HE), the Warriors had revenge to serve.
That hot plate of revenge would get cold. The Warriors got walloped, losing 7-1.
Coming into this one, Merrimack was already facing added adversity with the injury bug. Zack Bookman, Christian Felton, Ethan Bono, and Mac Welsher were all notably out with injuries. So as a result, Merrimack ran with only five healthy defensemen.
Coach Borek spoke on the constant injury rotation after the game, “It’s been that way all year, it’s really frustrating,” said Borek, “You bring back close (to full strength) but we still have three forwards out that were playing in our top nine. But we were closer tonight than we’ve been in a long time to having our true lineup.”
It was not all bad news on the injury front. Star forward Alex Jefferies along with Chase Stevenson made their returns to the lineup. Despite the bad news on the back end, it was some good news to see in the forward group.
The first period saw a Merrimack team we were more familiar with, especially in the neutral zone. The Warriors played a much more composed game and it kept the talented Terriers off their mojo for the most part.
Until the two minute drill, where Merrimack got caught deep in their own zone. Which resulted in a Dylan Peterson snipe on Zachary Borgiel to make it 1-0 BU.
After the first, confidence was high and all you could think about was….could this be the game we bounce back?
Early on, BU settled into their rhythm and again, got one above Zachary Borgiels glove. This time it was Macklin Celebrini with a one timer bomb. It was now 2-0 Terriers.
Not long after, BU struck again. Terrier captain Case McCarthy scored a howitzer from the point. Zachary Borgiel got a piece of the puck, but it wasn’t enough. That made it a three goal lead.
Merrimack later on was awarded the first power play of the night. BU killed it off but right when the power-play expired, Liam Dennison made a desperation save at the blue line to keep the puck in. The puck found its way to Mark Hillier on the wing and he was able to bury it.
Some life was back in the team, at a 3-1 score, it seemed like a climb was going to happen. Well friends, that wasn’t the case.
Late in the second, pandemonium struck for the Warriors. The final minute and thirty seconds saw Merrimack concede three straight goals, as result of a complete collapse in neutral zone defense. In the blink of an eye, the scoreboard read 6-1 Terriers.
Despite the abundance of goals Zachary Borgiel allowed, Coach Borek didn’t sit the senior net-minder. He still accounted for 35 saves.
“I thought about it, Borg is a competitor and I have pulled him once not too long ago,” said Coach, “Not really a Borg pull but more of a team pull, but I asked him a couple of times and he wanted to stay. I give him a lot of credit, he battled hard for the whole sixty minutes.”
Sophomore Terrier Quinn Hutson completed the extra point in the third period to give BU a touchdown. 7-1, the final.
The Warriors left the ice a deflated team. That tallies as their 7th straight loss, with not much time left in the season to salvage.
To add insult to injury, Coach Borek broke unfortunate news to the media that defenseman Christian Felton is done for the remainder of the year, “Felts is out for the season,” says Borek, “Unfortunately, he broke his scapula bone.”
It can’t be understated how difficult this year has been for Borek and his staff. Every game, it has been a burden to have to change the lineup due to the injuries. Merrimack has been a car with tires that just keep deflating.
The Warriors will take on the UNH Wildcats at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Where Zeta Tau Alpha and the student section will wear pink in light of “Think Pink” for Breast Cancer awareness.
For more coverage on Merrimack Men’s Hockey follow Marcus (@antonelli7jr) and Pat (@caseykid12) on Twitter (X) for all things Warriors Hockey. Don’t forget to check out the Beacon Newspaper website for articles on games, players, and more!