NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — You win some and you lose some. Typically, that’s all you can say at the end of a competition. Hockey, though, is a different animal altogether and, sometimes, neither team is better and both are simply described as “good.” It’s not something to be upset about, it’s just the nature of the beast. Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy understands that.
“We’re one of the few sports that ends in ties, but there were plenty of positives to take from that game.”
Merrimack and No. 20 Harvard played to a tie Friday night in Harvard’s first-ever trip to Lawler Arena. Both teams battled back and forth and, to the naked eye, looked evenly-matched. On the stat sheet though, Merrimack had every opportunity to win the game. They won more faceoffs, had five more power plays, attempted 29 more shots, blocked more shots, and hit two pipes. Despite this, Harvard never stopped fighting.
“I thought, with our best player sitting in the box for five minutes in overtime and having to kill a penalty in the last four minutes of the [regulation], I thought our guys really rallied together, doing a lot of good things,” noted Harvard coach Ted Donato. “We’re disappointed because we know we had some chances to win the game, but when you’re short-handed for 17 minutes and five minutes of OT, the message is that you’re proud that your guys battled all the way to the end.”
After a scoreless first, Harvard opened the scoring 3:13 into the second period on a goal from sophomore Tommy O’Regan, assisted by freshman Desmond Bergin and senior Brendan Rempel. Just 31 seconds later, O’Regan and Bergin were at it again, this time with Bergin finding the back of the net on a transition goal.
Despite that blip on the radar, Dennehy was happy with Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta’s performance.
“Sam really battled,” Dennehy said. “It wasn’t easy for him tonight. That’s the sign we’ve got a team that guards [the net], and he fought his way through and so did our team.”
Just under three minutes later, a short-handed Merrimack cut the Harvard lead in half when junior Rhett Bly won his faceoff and immediately flipped the puck over Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard’s shoulder for the goal.
Junior Mike Collins provided the game-tying goal at 13:58 of the second on assists from junior captain Jordan Heywood and junior Thomas McCarthy.
“We made a couple of mental errors,” noted Donato. “But all in all I thought we battled.”
You win some, you lose some, and sometimes you’re only good.
Added Dennehy, “That’s a good team, and I think they left here knowing that they played a good team.”