Union-Merrimack postgame report (with 3 videos)
This is certainly not the way Union wanted to open its 2012-13 college hockey season. Not after celebrating the accomplishments of its 2011-12 season.
Don’t let the final shots on goal fool you. Even though the fifth-ranked Dutchmen outshot Merrimack, 34-27, on Saturday night, it was the Warriors who were the stronger team.
They also had the hustle, especially in the third period. Josh Myers beating Ryan Forgaard on an icing call helped set up his tiebreaking goal and spark Merrimack to a 4-1 win over Union before a sellout crowd of 2,087 at Messa Rink.
Maybe all the hoopla surrounding the Dutchmen for what they did last year and being asked if they can repeat that caught up with them.
“Maybe we had it coming to us,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “All the press, the publicity, maybe it’s a lot for guys from 18 years old to 22 to handle. I look at that as a positive. We learned our lesson, and we’re going to move forward.”
One lesson the Dutchmen learned is that, despite firing 34 shots on Warriors goalie Sam Marotta, they made life very easy for him. There was very little traffic in front of him. The only time Union did make things miserable for Marotta, Mat Bodie scored.
“[Marotta] is a big guy,” Bennett said. “We didn’t make him move. Basically, like a center fielder, [he] was catching [the pucks] at will. The one time we did screen him, it’s a goal.
“As a staff, we don’t sit up in our offices and invent the game. It’s pretty simple — we didn’t want to pay the price to get there. Overall, I think it was a lack of willingness.”
Marotta credited his teammates for making it easy to see most of the Dutchmen’s shots.
“It wasn’t just one man tonight,” Marotta said. “I saw everything tonight. I had control of my rebounds pretty well, for the most part, and I was pretty happy with that. Kudos to my D-men, who did a great job.”
Then there were the defensive breakdowns in the third period. Union Ryan Forgaard seemed to slow up as Merrimack iced the puck. But with hybrid icing, all the opposition has to do is tie or beat the defender around the faceoff dot to have the icing wave off. And that is just what Myers did.
After that, Shawn Bates won a puck battle, and it came out to Myers at the net. He stuffed the puck past goalie Troy Groesnick’s right pad to give Merrimack a 2-1 lead 2:42 into the third.
“It’s hybrid icing, and we talk about all the time winning that race,” Myers said. “Batesie was right on him, and he was able to get the body. [The puck] trickled out short side, and I was able to tuck it in.”
Grosenick took the blame for the goal. But Forgaard getting beat was the real culprit.
“I completely misread the play,” Grosenick said. “I thought a guy picked that up and was wrapping it around the other side. That kid [Myers] beat me to that post. That was is on me.”
Myers made it 3-1 at 5:01 when Grosenick left a juicy rebound after stopping a John Heffernan shot. To be fair, there wasn’t a single Dutchmen around to help Grosenick.
One other aspect that will need to be addressed is three straight undisciplined penalties the Dutchmen took. It started with Daniel Ciampini inexplicably running into Marotta at the end of the first period. Seconds earlier, Ciampini bumped Marotta and could have been called for that.
Early in the second period, Bodie took a roughing penalty after the whistle. Later in the period, Kevin Sullivan left his feet when he checked a Merrimack player into the boards in the Warriors’ right-wing corner while the Dutchmen were on the power play. Sullivan was called for boarding.
“That’s something that is very uncharacteristic of us, taking those penalties,” Bodie said. “That’s something that will come with more game time, guys understanding that it’s not summer hockey anymore. I’m pretty sure we’ll be a pretty disciplined team this year.”
Former Dutchmen defenseman Taylor Reid came back to help raise the banners. Union players Mat Bodie, Kyle Bodie, Greg Coburn and Shawn Stuart participated.
Also helping were long-time season-ticket holders Bob Herrick, Rosemary Pryne and Linda Iovinelli, Union athletics business manager Kathee Natole, Garnet Blades president Tim Meigher and Garnet Blades executive board member Bill Fox.
Union will have five games televised by Time Warner Cable Sports this season.
The games are Jan. 18 against Cornell, Jan. 22 against Harvard, Feb. 15 vs. Yale, Feb. 16 vs. Brown and March 2 against Clarkson.
I have three postgame videos.
To see Bennett's press conference, click here.
To view Matt Bodie and Grosenick’s press conference, click here.
To view the Merrimack press conference, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Josh Myers, Merrimack center —Scored two third-period goals, including the game-winner.
2) Sam Marotta, Merrimack goalie —Made 33 saves.
3) Shawn Bates, Merrimack left winger —Scored his 20th goal of the season.
That’s all from Messa Rink. I’ll be back with you Monday with my College Hockey
Good Night! Good Hockey!