(Photo Credit: Helene Bartsch)

Warriors Shutout Terriers in HEA Opener

North Andover, MA- Boston University began their season with a trip to Mankato, Minnesota, last weekend to face Minnesota State. They trailed in both games, battled back, but didn’t have enough to overcome the Mavericks. On Saturday night, they began their Hockey East schedule with a trip to Lawler Rink to play the Merrimack College Warriors. Unfortunately, Merrimack played relentlessly, BU trailed, and the Terriers didn’t have enough to battle back or even score.

BU actually started stronger than Merrimack in the first couple minutes, rattling off the first six shots of the game. But at 2:06, BU took the first of six penalties on the night and began a theme of Warrior domination on special teams. Shane Switzer was whistled for hooking. Merrimack rushed the net and peppered Jake Oettinger with shots and bodies. Captain Michael Babcock cleaned up a loose puck on the doorstep and staked Merrimack to a lead 3:06 into the game. Four minutes later, Merrimack caught BU on a two-on-one. Jordan Seyfert fired a nifty pass to Logan Coomes for a redirect by Oettinger and Merrimack doubled their lead. BU pressured Craig Pantano at the other end but lost the shots battle 16-14 for the period and trailed 2-0 at intermission.

BU started the second period on a power play thanks to Laine McKay’s slashing minor. The Terriers moved the puck well and Kasper Kotkansalo had an open net for a clean shot until Pantano slid across and made the save of the game. BU failed to score and Merrimack seized control permanently. Matthew Quercia took a tripping minor 3:01 into the period and Jonathan Kovacevic potted the third Warrior goal of the night. Terrier Head Coach Albie O’Connell decided to pull Jake Oettinger from the net and replace him with Max Prawdzik. Oettinger faced 17 shots in 23:25 and allowed three goals. BU fought back to win the shots battle 9-6, but Pantano held firm and Merrimack led 3-0 at the break.

The Terriers mustered more offense in the final frame, with 11 shots on net. But again, even with a late power play and an empty net for an extra attacker, BU failed to score. Craig Pantano recorded his school’s first-ever shutout of the Terriers with a 34 save effort. Meanwhile, Lanie McKay finished the scoring with an empty netter to close a 4-0 Warrior win over BU.

Terrier Head Coach Albie O’Connell was disappointed with the performance after the game.

“Merrimack played a good game. Our power play was not clicking tonight. We’ve gotta get hungrier to score goals.” BU went 0-7 on the power play and begins the season 0-3 for the first time since 2008 and are 0-1 in conference play. BU continues their Hockey East schedule and search for O’Connell’s first victory on Friday night against the Providence College Friars. Puck drops at Agganis Arena at 7:30 pm.

Merrimack Coach Scott Borek was happy with and for his team.

“They deserved to win. It wasn’t a fluke. A couple times we got outside of ourselves and our game. That got us in trouble in the second. But after that, they played intelligently and hard. From our perspective, we’ve been disappointed with the results so far. So let’s empty the tank tonight, I thought we did that.” When speaking on Craig Pantano’s performance, Borek said “The best thing about his performance was everything looked easy. He never got outside of his body and that keeps the team in front of you calm. He’s not making very athletic saves, he’s just making pucks hit him. So I thought his performance was great, his composure was better.”

The Warriors run their record to 2-3 on the season and are 1-0 in conference play. Merrimack plays a home and home with the Massachusetts Minutemen next weekend. Puck drops at 7 pm on Friday night at the Mullins Center and 7 pm on Saturday night at Lawler Rink