The start to the season for Boston College men’s hockey has been one full of highs and lows. The Eagles have defeated some of the nation’s top teams while losing some of their most winnable games, all without sweeping a weekend series this season. These trends continued against Merrimack on Saturday.
Despite fighting back from a two-goal deficit in the second period, the Eagles (5–4–1, 3–2–0 Hockey East) fell to Merrimack (4–6–0, 2–5–0) by a final score of 4–3.
“It was a pretty good battle in the third period, but we just had to do it over 60 minutes,” BC head coach Jerry York said in his postgame press conference.
Unlike its victory over Merrimack on Friday, BC’s offense struggled to get going early on in its second game of the weekend. Goaltender Eric Dop faced shot after shot but made key saves to keep the game scoreless for the first half of the period.
A Drew Helleson penalty with nine minutes to go in the opening period helped the Warriors break the ice on the power play. Merrimack executed a tic-tac-toe passing play to perfection as Max Newton completed a pass from behind the goal to Ben Brar right in the slot. Brar fired a one-timer on goal and past Dop to put Merrimack ahead 1–0.
Just a few minutes later, the Eagles responded. Merrimack goaltender Hugo Ollas saved Mitch Andres’ point shot, but the rebound fell right to Marc McLaughlin. The captain stuffed the puck past Ollas to level the score at 1–1.
The Eagles seemed to have claimed the momentum after McLaughlin’s goal. Marshall Warren nearly beat Ollas once more, but the puck rang off the pipe to keep the game tied.
Merrimack capitalized on a poor defensive shift from the Eagles to regain the lead. After the Eagles struggled to clear the puck, Christian Felton retrieved it and completed a pass to Hugo Esselin who was alone in front of Dop. Dop had no chance of saving Esselin’s shot, and the score was 2–1 with four minutes to go in the period.
The score remained 2–1 as the horn went off to end the period. Merrimack dominated in the shot department, outshooting BC 15-–5 in the first 20 minutes.
Despite solid pressure from the BC offense, Merrimack scored the opening goal of the second period. After a tie-up behind Dop’s goal, the puck squeaked out toward Filip Karlsson-Tägtström who quickly put a shot on goal to double the Warriors’ lead to 3–1.
BC got one back on its first power play of the evening. The Eagles kept possession of the puck, generating a flurry of chances. Ollas saved Brandon Kruse’s shot, but the rebound fell to McLaughlin yet again. As he did in the first period, the captain slotted it home to make it a 3–2 game. His second goal of the game was also his seventh of the season, giving McLaughlin sole possession of the team lead in goals.
“Marc stood out in tonight’s game,” York said. “He led the battle back for us.”
Just two minutes later, BC tied it up. Trevor Kuntar fired a wrister from the left circle past Ollas and into the top right corner of the net to level the score at three apiece.
The third period was full of chances for both sides, but neither cashed in until the final four minutes. The Warriors connected on their passing again, as Karlsson-Tägtström fed Filip Forsmark in the slot. Forsmark’s shot beat Dop and found the back of the net, putting the Warriors ahead yet again.
Despite pulling Dop for an extra attacker for the final minute and a half, the Eagles trailed until the final whistle. Though they outshot Merrimack 25–11 over the final two periods, the Eagles couldn’t connect to level the score.
“When you’re down two, you got to climb that mountain,” York said. “We got there, and we just couldn’t get the next one.”
Featured Image by Steve Mooney / For The Heights