Game Notes (11/15): Boston University vs. Merrimack
[Better late than never, I suppose. But here it is anyway]
BOSTON UNIVERSITY vs. MERRIMACK:
In a game that showed why Boston University is such a talented team and why Merrimack is one of the hardest working teams (no matter what the outcome is), this game featured a Terriers team that dominated from start to finish, despite the it-aint-over-till-it’s-over attitude of the Warriors.
The Terriers played arguably their best game of the year thus far, despite having two Dmen out of the lineup due to injury. Sophomore Jekabs Redlihs (CBJ) is still nursing a broken collarbone that he sustained about a month ago. He’s expected to be back sometime in December. Freshman Sean Sullivan (PHX) is dealing with a concussion problem.
Getting the start in net for the Terriers was Calgary, Alberta native, sophomore Stephan Siwiec. Siwiec, whose last start was nearly a year ago, not only gave starter senior Sean Fields a night off, was outstanding when he had to be tonight. Meanwhile, Siwiec’s counterpart between the Merrimack pipes was top netminder, junior Casey Guenther.
The Terriers came out flying right from the get-go, and it didn’t take long for the Terriers to get on the scoreboard. Just 55 seconds in, senior Kenny Magowan (NJ) made it 1-0 BU. Magowan’s linemate, sophomore Brad Zancanaro had won the face-off and got the puck back to the point to sophomore Dman Dan Spang (SJ). Spang fired a low slapshot at the Merrimack net that made it’s way through some traffic in front of the net. Guenther went down to make a save, but gave up a juicy rebound. On a great individual effort by Magowan, he somehow manages to get his stick down to slide the loose puck past an out of position Guenther, all the while being mauled then taken down by a Merrimack defender. Zancanaro and Spang would draw the assists on the goal.
An issue that BU head coach Jack Parker wanted to remedy was the anemic Terriers Power Play. He was about to get his wish. With Warriors freshman Dman Jeff Caron in the penalty for a holding call, the BU Power Play went to work. At the 5:55 mark, they would strike pay dirt. The play begins with a quick wrister fired from the point by freshman Dman Kevin Schaeffer. Magowan, whose camped out in front of the Merrimack net, provided not only the perfect screen but gets a slight tip on the puck. As a result, the puck pinballs to the back of Guenther’s pads (not yet in the net), then bounces off the knob of Guenther’s stick and slides into the net. Magowan would be credited with his 2nd goal of the night on the Power Play. Once again his linemate Brad Zancanaro and Dman Kevin Schaeffer would draw the assists.
At the 6:31 mark, Schaeffer would be called for a rough and Merrimack saw its chance to get back into the contest. They almost succeeded. However, the goal that would’ve cut the Terriers lead in half, would be disallowed due to being kicked in by senior Dman Tony Johnson. The Warriors sophomore Dman Bryan Schmidt takes a corner pass from fellow sophomore Brent Gough. Schmidt then moves in just above the faceoff circles to fire the puck at the BU net. Just as Schmidt’s shot was released, Johnson moved in from the sideboards next to crease. Johnson then saw the lowshot coming his way, turned his skate inward in time to redirect the puck into the net. This goal wouldn’t be the last goal to be disallowed on the night for Merrimack.
At the 9:36 mark of the period, the Terriers would extend their lead to 3-0 on a terrific play by another linemate combination. This time it would be the magic of freshman Kenny Roche (NYR) and junior David Klema (PHX). The play starts out with Klema out muscling a Merrimack defender for the puck along the sideboards. He then proceeds to skate up the ice, checking the rear view mirror for a trailing teammate. Roche, who was trailing the play and somehow knew that Klema had alreadty spotted him, slowed down his skating just enough when he got into the offensive zone that Klema was able to make a nice back angle pass to Roche. Roche then fires a wicked one-timer into the net from the high slot area. Once again, Guenther had committed too soon and as a result was out of position to try and make the save. Klema would be credited with the only assist on Roche’s goal.
The intensity of the first period was very high. The Terriers were outworking the Warriors with their relentless forechecking and puck pursuit. The Warriors were tentative with the puck, when they did have it (and even when they didn’t). Nowhere was the more evident on BU’s next goal. At the 12:44 mark sophomore David VanderGulik (CGY) was called for interference. With the Warriors on the Power Play, the Terriers penalty kill went to work. Merrimack, whose strength is on the Power Play, had the opportunity to climb back into the game again. However, Brad Zancanaro had other ideas. The Warriors were bringing the puck up the ice towards the BU end. Just as the Warriors got inside the blueline, Zancanaro (working against Dman Tony Johnson) battles with Johnson and with some nice stickwork, manages to pick Johnson’s pocket with his second try. He then skates into the Merrimack zone untouched along the sideboards, before cutting to the middle of slot area. Zancanaro then waits for Guenther to commit first (which he does) before sliding it behind him and into the net, just inside the far post. The unassisted, short-handed goal came at the 14:31 mark. After the goal, the cracks in the Merrimack armour would begin to show as sophomore Dman Rob Lalonde would take two consecutive dumb penalties that would finish off a great period for BU but a horrific one for Merrimack.
The 2nd period saw the game pace slow down a bit, and a goalie change for Merrimack. After surrendering 4 goals in the first period, Merrimack head coach Chris Serino decided to give Casey Guenther the rest of the night off. His replacement was freshman Jim Healey. At the 22 second mark, BU senior (and team captain) Mark Mullen would be called for a hold. Again the Merrimack Power Play would go to work to try and get on the scoreboard. Their Power Play featured some excellent passing around the perimeter and some nice scoring chances. However, Siwiec would be up to the challenge to shut the door once again.
At the 6:38 mark, the Terriers would extend their lead to 5-0 on arguably the best goal of the night. Sophomore forward David VanderGulik (CGY) takes the puck from the sideboards and moves in toward the middle of the offensive zone. He then passes off to junior forward, David Klema (PHX) who’s behind the net. Klema then makes a move that’s one for the highlight reels. He begins skating toward the far boards with puck in tow. After a couple of strides that would be just enough to get Merrimack netminder Healey out of position, Klema makes a perfect drop passbehind the net to VanderGulik (whose parked next to the net on the opposite side) who then simply slides the puck into the net, just inside the near post. Klema and Roche would draw the assists.
With the score 5-0 in BU’s favour, the Warriors weren’t going to go quietly...and they weren’t about to let Stephan Siwiec get a shutout in a rare start either. At the 7:58 mark, the Warriors would finally answer. Freshman Dman Jeff Caron makes a nice pass through the neutral zone that rebounds off the sideboards and into the BU zone. A battle for the puck then ensues. BU forward, junior Matt Radoslovich would get a piece of the puck, then over skates it, creating a turnover. A trailing Derek Kilduff then skates into it and fires a rocket of a shot from just above the right faceoff circle that whistles over Siwiec’s shoulder (glove-side) and into the net. That would make the score 5-1 BU. Merrimack sophomore forward Nick Pompanio and freshman forward Mike Alexiou would draw the assists.
With the halfway point of the game approaching, the Terriers were beginning to get into penalty trouble as Merrimack decided to pick up the intensity of their game. At the 9:30 mark, Magowan would be called for Interference, putting the Warriors on the Power Play. However, it wouldn’t take long before the 5-on-4 would turn into a 5-on-3 for Merrimack. At the 9:51 mark, junior forward Brian McConnell (CGY) would take a boarding penalty. Merrimack, with a long 2-man advantage, decided to try and get fancy with their playmaking rather than keep it simple. As a result, the Terriers would be able to escape being scored upon with 2 men down. In addition to the penalty trouble, the Terriers were also creating some bad turnovers due to some sloppy play, particularly in their own zone. Later, it would be Merrimack’s turn to get into some penalty trouble. At the 16:48 mark, freshman Dman Ryan Johnson would be called for a rough, thus putting the Terriers on the Power Play. About 30 seconds later at the 17:18 mark, Warriors sophomore forward Brent Gough would join his teammate in the penalty box for a slashing call. Now it was the Terriers turn at the 5-on-3. The Terriers did a very nice job of moving the puck around and had several excellent scoring chances. However, Healey would be up to task.....and so would the goal posts. Both Magowan and junior Dman Ryan Whitney (PIT) had shots that rung off the iron. As the middle stanza wound down, things got a bit chippy as BU sophomore forward John Laliberte (VAN) would be called for a slash at the 19:34 mark. At the 20 minute mark, just as the buzzer sounded, Merrimack freshman forward Matt Byrnes would take, what would be one of many dumb penalties by the Warriors. This time for a rough.
The 3rd period saw the Warriors still trailing the Terriers by 4 goals and a man short to start the period. But once again, Healey and the Warriors would make a successful penalty kill. Later in the period at the 8:11 mark, the Warriors would again have a goal waived off. It all started with a terrific play by Warriors sophomore forward Blake Stewart. Stewart somehow managed to find an open shooting lane with lots of traffic between him and the BU net. He fires the puck at the BU net, only to have it stopped by Siwiec. However, Siwiec fails to gain complete control of the puck. Instead it pops loose and is air-borne in front of him. Merrimack senior forward Tim Reidy then is Johnny-on-the-spot and takes the puck out of mid-air and what at first looked like a gloved-in play into the net, ended up actually being directed into the net with his shoulder. With the goal disallowed, the game was still at 5-1 in the Terriers favour. Despite a four-goal deficit, the Warriors continued to work hard and grind it out. However, they did without team lead scorer Brent Gough, who was benched due to some poor play and taking some unnecessary penalties. Another top Merrimack player who saw his ice time drop significantly in the final stanza (but was not benched) was senior forward Marco Rosa (DAL). While Rosa didn’t take any penalties in the game, his play left alot to be desired. As the period progressed, so did the penalty minutes for both teams. One however would be costly.
At the 15:56 mark, Warriors Dman Rob Lalonde was once again in penalty trouble. He would receive a 5-minute major for a vicious cross-check on Kenny Magowan. Magowan appeared to be ok following the hit, but it would kill any hope of the Warriors trying to pull their netminder for an extra attacker to try and get more goals on the board. At the 19:16 mark, the Terriers would put the final nail in the Warriors coffin. The play begins with junior Dman Bryan Miller making a nice soft pass from the point to senior Mark Mullen, who’s parked inside the centre of the offensive zone. Mullen then tips the puck to toward the net. . As Mullen’s shot is released, sophomore forward John Laliberte (VAN) who is parked in front and just to the right of the Merrimack net, moves in towards the centre and re-directs Mullen’s shot that sneaks in and then squirts through Healey’s pads and into the net. After the goal, a scrum breaks out that is immediately broken up by the officials. The Terriers and their fans at Walter Brown Arena could go home happy with a convincing 6-1 win.
What won the game for the Terriers, aside from the scoring was hard work and everyone working together. While Siwiec wasn’t spectacular, he was very good between the BU pipes. Many players for the Terriers played great, however the line combinations of Magowan-Zancanaro-Skladany and Roche-Klema-VanderGulik were excellent. While senior Frantisek Skladany (COL) is still having trouble getting his first goal of the year, it isn’t due to a lack of trying as he had some great opportunities tonight that just wouldn’t go in. The most impressive Terriers player of the night was junior David Klema. What Phoenix Coyotes fans will love about Klema (a Coyotes prospect) is his brilliant and creative playmaking skills, as was shown on the VanderGulik goal in the 2nd period. In addition, he’s a very smart hockey smart who anticipates quite well. He not only made things happen for his linemates but was also very good on the defensive side as well. Freshman Kenny Roche (NYR) was also quite impressive. What New York Rangers fans will love about this kid is his sheer strength and excellent passing ability. He protects the puck very well and is difficult to move off the puck (just ask the Warriors who were having to defend against him tonight). Another player that was very impressive was senior forward Kenny Magowan (NJ). After his 2-goal performance tonight, he takes over the team scoring lead (previously held by junior Matt Radoslovich). New Jersey Devils fans will love Magowan’s work ethic. He’s willing to sacrifice the body, whether it’s to score the sometime garbage goal or go down to block a shot. He’s also gritty and tough on 1-on-1 situations, as evidenced by his first goal of the night. He’ll fight tooth and nail to get the puck and when opportunity presents itself, get it on net.
While Merrimack didn’t have a great game, they showed alot of preserverance (particularly in the 3rd period) and didn’t give up no matter how many goals BU would score. They’re a real feisty team to play against too. Regardless of whether they win, lose or draw, Merrimack opponents can expect a good fight on their hands at game time. Two Warriors players had an outstanding game, despite the loss. Defencemen sophomore Bryan Schmidt and freshman Jeff Caron were arguably Merrimack’s best players of the night. They provided much of the misery for the BU forwards as well as were very good on the Power Play. Schmidt, who quarterbacks the Merrimack power play, made some very nice passing plays that resulted in some excellent Warriors scoring chances. The youngster Caron (who won’t be 18 until next month) shows tremendous confidence with the puck and his passing ability is very good. So good in fact Merrimack head coach Chris Serino uses Caron as part of the top defensive unit on the team’s Power Play (along with Schmidt). He’s also a very good skater, but could use some bulking up.