Marcus Antonelli – Sports Editor
Merrimack came into this game trying to continue the hot streak they began last weekend beating Clarkson and SLU. The Huskies, however, were looking to bounce back, as they lost to UNH in Durham the night before. This would be the first conference matchup for the Warriors against a program that’s had their number in recent years. Northeastern hadn’t lost against the Warriors since January 5th, 2018. Heading into the historic Matthews Arena, the boys were looking to make some history of their own.
The first period started off with both sides in a deadlock. Neither side was allowing the other offense to settle in. NU had a few possessions in the O-zone. Nonetheless, Zachary Borgiel would shut down the numerous chances the Huskies had. It was about to be another game where teams would score off the rush and that’s exactly what Merrimack did. With 5 minutes left in the first, Matt Copponi accelerated into the Northeastern zone, drawing all the attention, leaving a wide open Zack Bookman for an easy goal to make it 1-0 MC.
Then, early in the second, the Warriors strike again. Liam Dennison received the puck from a blocked Ben Brar shot. Dennison pressured high on the blue line, fired a no-scope shot that ultimately went top right over NU goalie Cam Whitehead’s shoulder. Merrimack now led 2-0.
Despite the two power plays Northeastern had in the second, Merrimack held strong. Coming into this game, they boasted a Top 10 penalty kill in the nation, and it showed.
Last year, Northeastern was the team that dominated the neutral zone play against MC. Last night, however, the roles were reversed. The Huskies found themselves constantly under pressure from Merrimack. Forward Ethan Bono further emphasized this, “It was huge for us to get in quick on the forecheck,” says Bono, “we stuck with it the whole night and it paid off.”
It did in fact pay off, especially midway through the third. Ben Brar would dump the puck into the NU zone and apply the pressure on Husky defenseman Nolan Hayes. Hayes sent the puck around the boards where Mac Welsher retrieved it, and passed it straight to oncoming Mike Citara. Citara broke two stick checks and roofed the puck over Cam Whiteheads weak side shoulder.
Northeastern scored later in the third, but it meant nothing. The Warriors would hold on and silence the crowd when Mike Citara fired the puck cross ice into the empty net to make the final score 4-1.
Warriors netminder Zachary Borgiel finished the game with 29 saves on 30 shots. While Borgiels performance was nothing short of impressive, he humbly gave credit to his team: “One of our goals going into the game was getting over 20 blocks,” tells Borgiel, “we know they like to spread the offensive zone so we tried to pack it in.” Merrimack finished the night with 25 blocks, once again boasting a good defensive game.
Merrimack has all week to prepare for their game against the University of Maine, who will roll into town to play a doubleheader on Friday and Saturday. The Black Bears are currently 3-1-0 overall, most recently splitting this past weekend’s series against the championship hungover Quinnipiac Bobcats. MC against Maine went 2-0 at Lawler last year. This year, the boys should look to continue their home dominance this weekend.