Coming off their first win of the season on opening night at home on Friday night, the Merrimack College Warriors (2-2-0) looked to make it two in a row on Sunday afternoon vs the St. Lawrence Saints (1-3-0). This was the 20th all-time meeting between the two schools. The Saints have had a bit of an advantage in this series winning 16 of the meetings. The Saints also arrived in North Andover off a win Friday night as they defeated RIT.
The starting goalies for this one were, for the Saints Ben Kraws and for Merrimack Hugo Ollas. A scoreless first period saw both teams have power play chances, one for St. Lawrence and three for Merrimack. The best scoring chances came toward the end of the frame for each team. For the Warriors, graduate student Ben Brar found a loose puck at the side of the net left side and was denied by Kraws. St. Lawrence defensemen and captain Luc Salem had a partial breakaway down the middle of the ice and was stopped by Ollas. The first period ended scoreless between the two schools.
The second period saw the Warriors begin it on the power play but nothing came of it. That was their fourth of the game. Once that penalty was killed off, the Saints started to play more in the Merrimack zone. At 8:45 it paid off with the game’s first goal. Felikss Gavars’ left-wing rushed into the Warriors zone then cut to the middle of the high slot and let go a wrist shot that beat Ollas for a 1-0 lead for St. Lawrence. The goal was Gavars’ third of the season and was assisted by Philippe Chapleau. Merrimack, which was having a hard time generating a sustained offense, created a chance. A 2-on-1 started by Matt Copponi down the right wing found a streaking Devlin O’Brien who went in and found the back of the net on Kraws with a forehand shot. The goal was at 17:26 and was assisted by Copponi and Frank Djurasevic. The goal was O’Brien’s first collegiate goal. The period would come to an end with the game tied at 1-1. Merrimack had a 20-15 shot advantage.
The third period started at even strength. Merrimack had an early 2-on-1 with Copponi taking the puck over the blue line and wristing one on net that was blocked away by Kraws. At 1:33 the Warriors took their first lead of the night on a goal by Christian Felton assisted by Mark Hillier and Mac Welsher. The goal came from pressure down low near the net. The goal for Felton was his first of the year. St. Lawrence had a power play chance to tie the game at 4:11 when Welscher went off for interference. But the Saints could put no shots on goal as the Warriors penalty killers did a good job of keeping everything on the perimeter.
Merrimack added to the lead at 7:49 as Ty Daneault took the puck around the net from left to right and found Trevor Griebel at the side of the net right side. He deposited it into the goal for his first of the year. The secondary assist went to Mark Hillier. The Warriors now had a 3-1 lead with 9:50 to play. Merrimack finally made the Saints pay for the penalty they had taken for the game. Michael Citars scored his first of the season off a pass from Zach Bookman who carried the puck into the Saints zone down the left side and found a streaking Citars on the right wing and he did the rest. 4-1 Warriors at 10:42.
St. Lawrence got one back at 13:10 when Jan Lasak scored his first of the season. The play started in the Saints zone off a long clearing pass by Mason Waite that ended up behind the Merrimack net. Saints forward Will Arquiett was first on the puck and with a behind the back pass found Lasak who beat Ollas to make it a 4-2 game. St. Lawrence pulled their goalie with 3:06 left in a two-goal game. Despite having the goal empty, St. Lawrence picked up a minor penalty that allowed Merrimack to score an empty net power play goal at 17:38. Chase Stevenson picked up his third of the year from Welscher and Hillier to make it a 5-2 game. That would end up being the final score. Merrimack finished the game with a 37-22 shots advantage.
After the game, Merrimack head coach Scott Borak said “He was pleased with the result” and did not think his team started the game with a lot of juice. He thought the first fifteen minutes of the third period was his team’s best. He was also happy with his penalty-killing units that held the Saints off the score sheet on the day (0-7, four shots). He gave credit to associate coach Dan Jewell who works with them in practice. Junior Matt Copponi, who had an assist on the day, was happy with the way the team found a way to win. He believes if this can stick together good things will come of it. He was very good in the faceoff circle winning 20 of 25 draws. He said he watched a lot of videos of former Bruin Patrice Bergeron over the summer to help him be better in the faceoff dot. Merrimack is off until they head to Northeastern on October 28.
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