NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Freshmen scored five goals and added ten assists as Merrimack defeated Queen’s University of Canada in an exhibition game, 13-0.
The Warriors, picked unanimously by the Hockey East coaches to finish last this season, got two goals and two assists from rookie Matt Johnson and junior Tim Reidy. Junior Marco Rosa added a goal and three assists, while rookies Brent Gough and Rob LaLonde each had a goal and two assists as did sophomore Steve Crusco.
“The goals are nice, but I was real pleased with the way we competed,” said Merrimack coach Chris Serino, making his return to the bench this season after winning his battle with cancer last year. “It was eight, nine, ten and we were still going like hell in the offensive zone, the defensive zone, backchecking.
“If we can keep that kind of intensity the whole season, then we’ll be all right.”
Joe Exter and Casey Guenther combined for 25 saves and the shutout for Merrimack, which outshot Queen’s, 46-25.
Merrimack led 3-0 after one, and 7-0 after two against the Gaels, who fell to Providence on Friday night, 5-1. The Warriors scored six goals on special teams, four on the power play and two shorthanded.
Crusco gave the Warriors the only goal they would need just 31 seconds into the game when he converted a feed on the doorstep from Reidy past Gael netminder Rob Purdy.
Johnson made it 2-0 at 6:42 with a power play goal.
“Rosa got a pass from Gough in the corner and passed it to me on the backdoor, and I just one-timed it in,” said Johnson.
“I think we’re coming together as a team. We’re really meshing well together, our whole team is. Last year, I guess they didn’t play so well as a team, but this year our whole motto is playing well as a team. They picked us last, so hopefully we’ll turn some heads.”
Midway through the period, Reidy scored his first of the night when he slipped a pass from Crusco underneath a sliding Purdy to make it 3-0.
Alex Sikatchev scored the Warriors’ fourth goal 3:21 into the second, and then Johnson scored a carbon copy of his first goal at 9:09 for a 5-0 lead.
Gough and LaLonde rounded out the scoring in the second. LaLonde’s goal came off a slap shot on the power play.
Both teams changed goaltenders to start the third. Dan Robson came in for Purdy (23 saves) in the Gael net, while Guenther replaced Exter (18 saves) for Merrimack.
Robson fared no better, surrendering six goals on 16 shots. Reidy and Brendon Clark scored shorthanded goals for the Warriors, while Nick Torretti added a power play goal and Rosa, Ryan Cordeiro and rookie Nick Pomponio found the back of the net at even strength.
But after building a commanding 7-0 lead after two, Johnson said the goal in the third was to get the shutout.
“We were pretty much just trying to play defense. The score was getting up there, and I know Queen’s was kind of tired from the night before, they played Providence last night and have to play BC tomorrow. It’s a tough road trip for them.”
“We tried to play defense first and generate offense off of that,” said Torretti. “We didn’t make any stupid plays. We just got the puck low and did a little work.”
“We worked hard at conditioning and being in shape,” said Serino. “I think we’re stronger than we were, and we played more like a team than we have in the past. Can we be consistent? We’ll see. We are very young.”
Merrimack opens its regular season at home Oct. 12 against Union. Queen’s plays its third game in less than three days Oct. 6 at Boston College.