Men's Hockey, Hockey, Winter, Sports

Undisciplined First-Period Play Costs BC in Loss to Merrimack

The Eagles lacked energy in the first period of their game against Merrimack on Saturday and were never able to recover, falling to the Warriors 5–2. 

About halfway through the first period of Boston College men’s hockey’s tilt against Merrimack, the jumbotron at Conte Forum displayed a “Macarena Cam,” encouraging fans to show off their best dance moves. That call to dance, however, came unaccompanied by the 1993 hit song, creating an awkward and disjointed environment.

The energy of the crowd following that miscue resembled BC’s energy on the ice for much of Saturday afternoon’s first period: uninspired and listless. 

The Eagles (2–4–1, 2–3–0 Hockey East) served up an undisciplined brand of hockey while the referees blew their whistles liberally, allowing Merrimack (5–3–0, 3–1–0) to jump out to an early 2–1 first period lead en route to a 5–2 victory.

“We definitely have to be smarter managing the puck and taking more [of] what’s given, [rather] than trying to push and trying to create offense when there really [weren’t] great opportunities,” BC head coach Greg Brown said of his team’s first-period play. 

The Warriors got on the board in the opening five minutes after Ben Brar stuffed a wraparound goal past BC goaltender Mitch Benson. 

The lone bright spot of the period for BC came 10 minutes later. Playing with a man advantage, Cutter Gauthier netted a top-shelf rocket, tying the game at a goal apiece. 

“[Gauthier] does good things every day,” Brown said. “It’s hard for an 18-year-old, but you see when he gets the puck in open ice and you see his shot—you know there’s some special talent in there.”

Even after tying the game, though, the Eagles could not get out of their own way. Just after Gauthier’s goal, referees called Aidan Hreschuk for interference. Merrimack capitalized on Hreschuck’s error, as Mark Hillier knocked his own rebound past Benson to restore the Warriors’ lead. 

Called for having too many players on the ice late in the first period, the Eagles put Merrimack on the power play to enter the second period. 

Once BC killed off that penalty, the Warriors began to look undisciplined. Given three opportunities on the power play in the period’s first 10 minutes, the Eagles still failed to find the back of the net despite putting together their strongest stretch of play in the process. 

BC had Merrimack goaltender Zachary Borgiel on his heels for much of the period, forcing him to make save after save through a 5-on-3 BC power play—including a lunging, highlight-reel grab to keep the Warriors ahead. 

“I thought we started to get it to where we could have really turned the momentum,” Brown said. “We needed that one goal—whether it was on the power play or a 5-on-5 goal—I think it could have been a much different game.”

Borgiel kept the Eagles’ offense at bay long enough for Merrimack to secure some much-needed breathing room with a late Mike Brown goal. To make matters worse for BC, Lukas Gustaffson—who inadvertently tipped Brown’s shot into the net—subsequently went to the penalty box for holding. 

The Warriors added another power-play goal midway through the final period, as Alex Jefferies flicked home a goal from the top of the left faceoff circle. 

On a two-on-one opportunity, Filip Forsmark notched Merrimack’s fifth goal of the afternoon. With the game well out of reach, Brown pulled Benson in favor of backup goaltender Henry Wilder for the final 10 minutes. Andre Gasseau scored BC’s second goal with under two minutes to play, but Merrimack had already sealed the win.

“We have to get better and keep going,” Brown said. “[We’ve] got a lot of hockey left.”

November 5, 2022