2020–21 Men’s Hockey East Preview: Merrimack Warriors

Last Season: 9–22–3 (7–14–3, 10th in Hockey East)

Head Coach: Scott Borek (third season)

Preseason poll projected finish: 10th

Departures: F Tyler Drevitch, F Tyler Irvine, F Patrick Kramer, F Griff Jeszka, F Sami Tavernier

Additions: F Conor Lovett, F Alex Jefferies, F Jakob Lee, D Kevin Sadovski, F Filip Karlsson-Tagtstrom, G Zachary Borgiel

By Jordan Baron

The 2019–20 Merrimack Warriors were not great. Things aren’t looking much better this year.

Departing are five senior forwards, two of whom were top-five scorers. This includes captain Tyler Drevitch, who tallied nine goals and seven assists before signing with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL. 

However, where there is loss, there is also hope. The incoming freshmen class contain many talented players, including four new forwards. At the top of the class sits Alex Jefferies, rated 97th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Jefferies finished his final season at The Gunnery last year, totaling 33 goals and 36 assists on the season.

The incoming class also includes goaltender Zachary Borgiel, who slotted a 26–12–4 record with the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the BCHL, putting together a 2.55 goals against average and .923 save percentage across 44 appearances.

The Warriors also held on to three of their top five scorers from last season: defenseman Declan Carlile and forwards Chase Gresock and Logan Drevitch.

Bottom Line: It’s going to be tough for the Warriors to improve upon last season given the status of their offense. Although they held onto all of their defenseman and goaltenders, their front lines were stripped. There is a glimmer of hope, as some members of the freshman class look promising, but it most likely will not be enough to finish higher than the preseason poll ranks them.

Men’s Hockey Bests Merrimack in Fight-Filled Penalty Fest

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Catherine Morrison

Saturday night’s homecoming game was a tension filled dramafest. Multiple fights broke out. 23 penalties were called, with Merrimack’s 13 and Northeastern’s 10 both setting season highs. Three players were hit with 10-minute misconduct penalties.

And amid it all, Northeastern pulled out a 3–1 win.

NU’s Tyler Madden celebrated his 20th birthday by opening the scoring. Eight minutes into the first period, he fired a backhand shot into the top right corner of the goal for his sixth of the season. Only a great save by Merrimack goalie Jere Huhtamaa prevented a second Madden goal in the period.

Although there were no more first-period goals, the drama was still there as Northeastern’s Matt Filipe got into a scuffle with a Merrimack player behind the net. Filipe was called for cross checking, and Northeastern held down the fort while he was in the penalty box. Madden looked angry as he argued with the referee after the call, and was whistled shortly after when he got into it with Merrimack’s Liam Walsh. Both players were sent to the penalty box.

The second period started with two Northeastern players and one Merrimack player in the box. With thirty seconds left in the power play, Filipe joined them after he was called for hooking. Filipe slammed his stick against the glass as he skated in, drawing a whopping 10-minute penalty for misconduct.

Seven saves by Husky goalie Craig Pantano and an unsuccessful Merrimack penalty challenge helped Northeastern emerge unscathed. But the box wouldn’t remain empty for long. Northeastern’s Biagio Lerario and Merrimack’s Regan Kimins kept the seats warm after a heated faceoff yielded a dual unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Two minutes later, Merrimack’s Tyler Irvine was whistled for hooking. Before the PA announcer could finish announcing the penalty, Aidan McDonough slapped home a one-timer off an assist from Madden and Ryan Shea.

Shortly afterwards, Northeastern’s Zach Solow was aggressively knocked down and ate ice, but the refs didn’t call it, despite penalizing nearly everything else. The Huskies got their revenge when — after Merrimack’s Declan Carlile went to the box for interference — Aidan McDonough chipped in a floater for his second goal of the period.

The third period started with yet another power play after Northeastern’s TJ Walsh was called for tripping. With 11 minutes remaining, Lerario slammed into Merrimack’s Colin Murphy, flew over his head, and got into a scuffle on the side of the rink with some displeased Merrimack players. The fracas yielded an interference penalty for Lerario and a penalty apiece for Merrimack’s Logan Drevitch and Zach Vinnell. Northeastern failed to convert on the power play.

With five minutes remaining, Carlile finally put Merrimack on the board off an assist by Ryan Nolan and Liam Walsh. Northeastern challenged the call saying there was interference, but the call stood. The win moved Northeastern to 5–3–2 (2–2–1 HEA) and dropped Merrimack to 2–7–1 (1–3–1 HEA). The Huskies continue play with a home-and-home against Providence Friday and Saturday.