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.
BOSTON — Coming off of a 3–0 win
against the Merrimack Warriors Friday night, the Northeastern Huskies were
still feeding off of that energy.
Northeastern’s three seniors were honored before their last regular-season home game. Codie Cross, from Alberta, Canada, Paige Capistran, from Manchester, New Hampshire, and Matti Hartman, from Etna, New Hampshire, were all recognized for their contributions to the program.
Cross played a shift in the first period, but an ongoing lower-body injury kept her from playing heavy minutes. Capistran and Hartman both played their hearts out, as did many other Huskies.
great leaders on and off the ice and really nice people, and I think they’ve
done a lot for this program,” junior goaltender Aerin Frankel said. “Our
culture has grown a lot, and it started with them as freshman learning from
their seniors and they’ve done a really good job carrying that out to this
Even though the Huskies’ position in
Hockey East was determined more than three weeks ago, head coach Dave Flint
still wanted to finish the year strong.
get more passionate, I think, on senior weekend,” he said. “Even though it was
a long time ago for me, I remember what it was like . . . so I always want the
seniors to go out on a winning note.”
The energy that Flint
wanted was evident throughout the first period and most of the game. The Huskies
started strong, maintaining possession for most of the period.
With nine minutes
center Tessa Ward received a penalty for cross-checking. While most teams might
be nervous when down a player, the Huskies seem to gain confidence. Only eight
percent of the team’s penalty kills have ended in goals, compared with the
Huskies’ 15 percent success rate on the power play.
This penalty kill was no
different. Alina Mueller fired a shot into the back of the net for her
third shorthanded goal this season.
The Huskies notched a second goal when
Miceala Sindoris’ slick puck handling and blocked wrister led to a loose puck
in the slot. Brooke Hobson was trailing the play and positioned herself
perfectly to slap it home.
In the second period Merrimack increased their intensity and energy. They had many attempts on goal, but none passed through Frankel. The Husky goalie fired her team up near the end of the second period when she made an initial save, saw the puck was open and vulnerable behind her, dove backward to make a second save, and perfectly cleared the puck to Katy Knoll. Knoll found Tessa Ward, who carried the puck up the ice, wrapped around the net, and perfectly fed Mia Brown for the third and final goal of the game.
The third period was a slow
and scoreless one for the Huskies. While they maintained possession for most of
the period, they did not get as many shots on goal as they would have liked.
Near the end of the game, a
Tessa Ward checking penalty and a Chloe Aurard slashing call brought the fierce
penalty kill squad back out onto the ice. It was fitting that the successful penalty kills would seal
an illustrious defensive record — when the clock showed zeros, Aerin Frankel
had recorded her 10th shutout of the year, breaking Erika Silva’s
20-year-old school record. Frankel also equaled Chanda Gunn’s 19-year-old
record of 23 wins.
“It’s a cool thing to know, but it’s not super important to me personally,” Frankel said. “It’s more important to me that we keep winning.”
The Huskies (28–4–2, 24–3–0 WHEA) kick off the Hockey East Tournament this week with a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the Vermont Catamounts. Tune in for WRBB’s coverage from Matthews Arena, with the first game starting at 1 PM EST on Thursday.
need to be focused, we need to be ready,” Flint said. “It’s playoffs, anything
regular season winds down, Northeastern’s eyes are set on the playoffs. The
Hockey East playoffs begin with a best-of-three at home against the Vermont
Catamounts on Thursday. Before that, however, the team had one more job to do.
and Northeastern sit at opposite ends of the Hockey East standings. The Huskies,
with 44 points, tower above the rest, while the Warriors, with nine, are in the
cellar. Northeastern looked to bounce back from a split home-and-home against
Providence by sweeping Merrimack to close the regular season. Of additional
note, Alina Mueller and Aerin Frankel saw a renewed spotlight, as both are top
10 finalists for women’s college hockey’s most prestigious honor — the Patty
match began with engaging action, as both teams exchanged early scoring
opportunities. Eventually, things settled down, and about halfway through the
first period, Northeastern saw their first power play. The man advantage did
not yield a goal, but it allowed Northeastern to firmly plant themselves in the
offensive zone, and their lethal puck cycling began.
after going to full-strength, the Huskies caught the Warriors in a defensive
change, and Alina Mueller found herself on a breakaway with only Merrimack
netminder Léa-Kristine Demers between her and the goal. The nation’s fourth-leading
scorer wasted no time, putting a move on Demers and netting her 22nd
goal of the season.
remainder of the period saw a few more Husky chances, but Demers held fast and kept
the score at 1–0.
period action saw an energized Merrimack team establish themselves in the
Northeastern zone, aided by an early Northeastern penalty. Northeastern killed
off the penalty, but Merrimack put some pressure on Aerin Frankel between the
pipes. Frankel was forced to make some impressive saves as Merrimack found
themselves on a breakaway midway through the period.
teams exchanged penalties, but an impressive effort from both netminders meant
the second period would conclude with the same score as the first.
period saw a reenergized Northeastern team occupy the offensive zone. An early
penalty against the Huskies was negated by another penalty from the man-up
Warriors, resulting in a four-on-four that allowed the Huskies to maintain
their momentum. Midway through the third the Huskies finally found their
breakthrough. Peyton Anderson powered past several Merrimack players and promptly
placed the puck off the post and past the Warriors’ pipe protector to put the
Huskies ahead 2–0.
battle cries the Warriors used to rally themselves were silenced at this point,
as the celebration of their seniors’ last home game took hold and their game
lost some of its intensity. The Huskies, however, said “screw that” and
continued to put pressure on the Warriors. With just under four minutes to go, sophomore
forward Miceala Sindoris found herself one-on-one with Demers off of a great
feed from linemate Tessa Ward. A simple snipe beat the blocker side of the
goalie, and Sindoris’ second goal of the season iced the Huskies’ 3–0 victory.
The clock wound down to zero, and Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel had secured
her ninth shutout of the season.
Northeastern (27–4–2, 23–3–0 WHEA) will conclude the home-and-home, and their season, on Saturday. Matt Neiser, Sarah Olender, and George Barker will be on the call, with coverage beginning at 1:45 PM EST. We’ll post the Listen Live link on our Twitter before game time.
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.
amid it all, Northeastern pulled out a 3–1 win.
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
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
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
Last Season: 7–24–3
(4–18–2, 11th place); missed HE playoffs
Coach: Scott Borek (second season)
Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: 11th
G Jere Huhtamaa
G Troy Kobryn
D Declan Carlile
D Jacob Modry
D Zach Vinell
D Zach Uens
D Liam Dennison
F Liam Walsh
F Hugo Esselin
F Regan Kimmens
F Mac Welsher
F Ben Brar
F Joey Cassetti
F Christian Simeone
F Ryan Nolan
F Flip Forsmark
F James Corcoran
Last year was the beginning of a plan for seismic
change in Merrimack’s hockey program. The school replaced 13-year head coach
Mark Dennehy with successful Providence assistant Scott Borek. With Merrimack relatively
new in Division I — men’s hockey joined in 1989 — the perception of the North
Shore program seemed ready to change.
Unfortunately, Merrimack hit a new low in 2018–19,
tallying just seven wins all year and finishing last in Hockey East with four
conference wins. It was their worst record in twelve seasons; the team hasn’t
had a winning record since 2011. Wins over powerhouses Northeastern, BU, BC,
and Michigan provided the season’s sole saving grace.
After such a dismal season it’s unsurprising that for
Borek to retain his position, he needed to immediately bail out the Warriors’ sinking
ship. Coming into this season, he cut seven players and recruited sixteen. As
the prospects stand for this season, no one expects too much for the upcoming
One of the few returning bright spots is freshman goal scorer Chase Gresock. Tallying 24 points with 11 goals and 13 assists last season, the newcomer cemented himself as someone to watch. Hopefully within Borek’s big recruiting class coach there’s a better first line to help Gresock build upon a respectable start to his career.
Bottom Line: Merrimack is a last-place team, and when seven players are cut going into a season it reflects poorly on the pre-Borek era. Until Borek strings together good recruiting classes, Merrimack will remain at the bottom of Hockey East.