Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekend Recap 1/2 - You Know Who We Are

Last night the Terriers hoofed it out to North Andover, Mass, for their fourth consecutive road game and their final one before tomorrow's matchup with Newton Community College here at Agganis. Be sure to check out QQ's post previewing that game. Merrimack swept a potentially legit but somewhat inconsistent Northeastern team last weekend and were expected to play with confidence against BU at home.

Plus, they have Finkle on their side. I mean, wouldn't you be pumped for your next game if you could queue up this beauty on your iPod?


Highlights and analysis after the jump.


First, the enemy's lair. Lawler Arena. This place sucks. It's the opposite of Agganis in every way. Lawler is like Wally Brown with low self-esteem. Parker mentioned that it's a tough place to win a hockey game, but that's really only because Merrimack (like many teams) plays very well on their home ice. Or possibly because their facilities are so shitty. He was certainly just being polite. Video of Parker's postgame comments at the end of the recap (make sure you watch until 5:18 "Am I on TV?!") and a bonus video of the game's scoring highlights. Lawler is tiny. A sellout is fewer than 2,500 tickets sold, which isn't much to brag about. It's alright though, they brag anyway, claiming something like 20 straight sellouts which, if you're letting Merrimack students and alumni count the attendance stats, is probably inaccurate anyway. Their student section looks like it holds about 200 people and sounds like it holds 20, maybe five of whom were wearing jerseys and about 15 of whom make up the Merrimack band. The band played good songs, we think; you could never hear them except for one tuba player. They also have several band members who are seriously old enough to apply for social security benefits. I do not know why. On the plus side, you can see everything on the ice perfectly because you're so close and you can often hear the players talking to each other.

The best thing I can say about the Mack students is that A) the concessions girls have nice asses and B) whenever I looked over at the student section, the majority of the kids there seemed vaguely interested in what was happening on the ice. They only chant when we chant. They started about four chants that weren't a direct response to our noise. All four of them were chants at O'Connor, but the first time they got his name wrong and said Maguire, who didn't start last night. OC WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM and they managed to fuck it up. Yikes. A 2,000 decibel horn goes off for a Warrior goal, just in case the students fell asleep during the game. After the whistles and generally WAY more than is appropriate, the speakers play terrible music from 5-10 years ago with the volume turned up to 11. RSIG is their security firm (ugh) and they don't let you stand during the game unless it's "spontaneous". Go fuck yourselves. We were gonna stand anyway, but some kid behind my left shoulder asked us to sit so he could watch the game. He later said that Marotta was his brother when I was chirping him for sucking in the third period. Sucks to be you, kid. Marotta is on my fantasy college hockey team and I benched him this weekend because I knew he would get lit up like a Christmas tree.

The first period was scoreless and while BU had more legit scoring chances, including a bar-down snipe by E-Rod halfway through the period which was reviewed and denied, Merrimack led in shots at the end of the first 20 minutes. The Terriers had some trouble gaining the offensive zone at times, as the Warriors clogged up the neutral zone with a 2-3 red line trap before mucking hard in the corners whenever BU dumped the puck in. Winning those battles was a key element in winning the game, and the ability of the Terriers to go into the corners or the boards and come out with the puck was inconsistent through the first and some of the third period. Early in the game freshman goalie Matt O'Connor flashed the glove several times on some nice saves and despite the high quantity of shots, generally played steady and made it look easy.

QQ brought the Finnish flag to Lawler arena for this game, in the hopes of BU going 2-0 with the Flag in attendance. You could tell the team's energy was building in the second period and I'm about 77% sure it had a lot to do with the flag. My suspicions were confirmed in the second period when The Fighting Finn Ahti Oksanen rocketed a one-timer, on a beauty pass set up by Cason Hohmann, past the glove of Merrimack tendy Sam Marotta who hadn't shifted over fast enough. QQ went appropriately nuts, as did the rest of the Terrier roadies. About seven minutes later, Matt Grzelcyk found Captain Megan on an honestly really filthy pass off the boards. Grizz has really impressive vision on the ice and it's exciting knowing that his playmaking abilities will only get better as he grows and becomes more accustomed to cawlidge hawkey. The pass found Megan right on the tape, who didn't even see it coming, and the Hero From Canton burned Merrimack D-man Dan Kolomatis on the outside before wristing a shot through Marotta's five-hole to put the Terriers up 2-0. Hack fans were understandably dismayed (flashback to last semester's win #emptysellout).

It seemed to this biased fan that after the 2-0 lead was established, Warrior head coach Mark Dennehy instructed his team to try and draw more penalties. Which is really just a nice way of saying he benched all his players and put the Merrimack diving team out on the ice. This does not surprise me, as Dennehy graduated from BC in 1991. I wonder where he learned how to dive?

Seriously though, Dennehy has nothing going for him. Grew up in Dorchester, went to BC, now coaches Merrihack, and isn't even related to Brian Dennehy. Fail.

Anyway, yeah. So the Warriors got a few powerplays in the second. BU killed off the first with solid defense and a fantastic sliding save by OC, who didn't sprawl out anywhere but had perfect positioning and came out well to challenge an uncontested grade-A shot. The end of the 2nd period showed Merrimack halfway done with another powerplay, which came after literally all three players on their line and one of their defensemen all dove within the space of about 15 seconds. Guys, if you're gonna manipulate the refs don't insult them by all falling down at the same time like someone threw a grenade on the ice. Dive classy or don't dive at all (hint: DON'T DIVE AT ALL). It seemed pretty evident that Merrimack is the second team Parker was referring to when he discussed diving in the Hockey East with the Boston Hockey Blog (BC is obviously the first team).

As the PK carried over into the third period, Merrimack found a spark. Bigos fed Collins (averaging over 1.4 PPG for the Warriors) along the boards, who found Jon Heffernan down low, coming out from behind the net. Scooby, who had an excellent game for the Terriers, challenged Heffernan and blocked off the passing lane while OC hugged the post. Somehow Heffernan wheeled and sniped a puck past OC, either past his mask or off his shoulder (or possibly off of Scooby). It was a very nice shot, and all of a sudden Merrimack was right back in the game.

They knew it, too. For the next several minutes in the third period, Merrimack dominated the play. They had BU hemmed in their own zone with effective forechecking, they backchecked well and clogged up the neutral zone, and they won the vast majority of 1-on-1 puck battles. The Terriers were back on their heels and seemed lost on the ice. They didn't get their heads back in the game until Merrimack tied the game. The puck was in the net and there was a lot of shouting. OC was particularly adamant that the goal needed to be reviewed, making a visible kicking motion over to the bench to assure Parker and Bavis that it was a no-goal. The zebras went to the video booth for the second time in the game and again denied the goal, which was determined to have been kicked in by some asshole in a piss-colored uniform. The shock of a potentially-tied game was enough to wake the Terriers back up, though, as they came back to life for the rest of the period.

E-Rod, who had his first goal of the season reviewed and denied in the first period, would get a shot at redemption as a bouncing puck came to Grzelcyk at the point. Grizz wristed one low off the pads of Marotta and the rebound came right to the tape of E-Rod's stick with an open net. He snapped the rebound home past a diving Marotta to add to BU's insurance. That was Grizz's second assist of the game. Megan also had an assist, which was his third point of the game (1G 2A). 

Captain Megan and OC mostly stole the show between the two of them last night. OC stopped 33 of 34 at Lawler and while only a few were really stunning highlight reel saves, it was a very solid performance. He was backed up by some pretty good defense, especially by Scooby, Grizz and Megan. Those three, for me at least, seemed to stand out the most in terms of raw effort and making their presence known on every play.


HIGHLIGHTS - BONUS VID #2 - Watch to the end for footage of Tirronen being a total sieve in warmups. If only they'd started him!

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