NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Brandon Brodhag scored the game winning goal in overtime to lift the Merrimack Warriors over the Providence College Friars Saturday night. The victory ended a seven-game losing streak for Merrimack and was the Friars’ second overtime loss of the weekend.
The game-winning goal was Broadhag’s third of the weekend, as he scored a pair against Massachusetts-Lowell on Friday. Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said that Brodhag’s big weekend was a direct result of the effort he has put in.
“Coach got on me a lot in practice this week,” Brodhag said. “It was a great week of practice, and it paid off for me.”
If there’s any correlation between a great effort and a greasy one, then Brodhag’s success is no surprise.
“Your team’s play in the greasy area is what differentiates you from other teams,” Dennehy said. “Brandon is great there, because he’s not afraid to work hard against much bigger guys.”
The Warriors got on the board in the first when Carter Madsen recorded his second goal of the season. Fifteen minutes into the period, Adam Ross slapped the puck toward Providence goalie Alex Beaudry. The rebound kicked out to Madsen at the crease, and he one-timed it in.
In the second, the Friars evened the score with what was essentially a power-play goal. J.C. Robitaille’s hooking penalty gave Providence its fourth man-advantage of the game. The Friars took only two shots during their two-minute tango, but kept the puck in the offensive zone.
Providence tested Andrew Braithwaite frequently, with many of its early shots coming from the left faceoff circle.
Ian O’Connor, who had five shots in the first, beat Braithwaite to the right thanks to a great fake move. The game-tying goal was Braithwaite’s only mistake of the night. He finished with 34 saves and his fifth win of the season.
Braithwaite was quick to credit the Warriors’ success to their mindset.
“We kept it simple,” Braithwaite said. “The defenders did a great job clearing the puck out, and kept pucks against the wall.”
Providence coach Tim Army pointed out that Providence’s biggest strength was also the ability of its defense to limit puck movement.
Neither team committed a penalty in the scoreless third period. Merrimack had a couple of chances late in the frame, but none of them resulted in the game-winner. Stephane Da Costa was set up well in the slot with less than two minutes to play, but Beaudry made his best save of the night, robbing the center with his glove top shelf.
Although neither team claimed the win in regulation, Dennehy took some positives from his team’s play in the third.
“I thought we played just as well in the third as we did in overtime,” Dennehy said. He added that his speech to the players after the third encouraged them to play the same way they were playing.
Both Army and Dennehy had nothing but praise for the sophomore goalie. Dennehy and Brodhag called him the best goalie the Warriors have faced this season.
In the extra period, Merrimack won both faceoffs, with the second one coming in the Friars’ zone. Although Providence was able to clear the puck, the Warriors took it right back past the blue line and set up one of the best plays of the night.
Pat Bowen fired a slap shot that was wide of the net, and Jesse Todd dug the loose puck out behind the cage. Todd passed the puck toward the net, and Beaudry kicked it away. Brodhag was positioned perfectly to knock the kicked puck past the netminder and in.
The loss was another tough break for the Friars, who went down 3-2 at home in overtime against the UNH Wildcats on Friday. Beaudry had 39 saves in the game after making 39 against UNH as well.
The Warriors will have a home-and-home series with the Wildcats next weekend. The first match will be at Lawler Arena Friday at 7 p.m., with the regular season series concluding Saturday at the Whittemore Center at 7 p.m.
The Friars will head to Chestnut Hill Friday night to take on the Boston College Eagles at 7 p.m.