Hockey: Mass Attack to face lowly Merrimack

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

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Merrimack has yet to win a Hockey East game, and the Warriors will come out hard on Saturday to beat one of the top teams in the league – No. 19 Massachusetts.

The Minutemen (5-1-1, 2-0-1 Hockey East) are coming off an offensively-strong weekend against Providence in which they scored 14 goals in two games, while limiting the Friars to five.

Merrimack (2-4-1, 0-3-0 Hockey East) hasn’t been as successful. Last Thursday the Warriors lost to No. 2 Boston College, 4-1, and on Friday lost to the Eagles again in overtime, 4-3.

“I saw them play last Thursday night and they didn’t play well at all. I was thinking that BC would just run away with it on Friday night and I come back and see they take them into overtime and BC barely escapes. So they’re desperate,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon.

Cahoon expects Merrimack to be well coached and be a hard skating team, but they haven’t scored nearly as many goals as UMass. The Warriors have scored 11 goals, compared to the Maroon and White’s 25.

“They haven’t scored a lot of goals. Their power play hasn’t been what they’ve needed to be,” Cahoon said. “Those are areas that we’re going to have to bear down and make sure that we keep it that way. It’s going to be a tough game as it always is in that building.”

The Warriors have scored two power-play goals this season off 29 opportunities this season. The Minutemen shouldn’t have a problem defending Merrimack’s struggling power-play unit. UMass has killed off its last 18 penalties in its last four games, good for one of the top man-down performances in the nation.

But, the most important penalty-killer is always the goaltender, as Cahoon emphasizes. The UMass coach has not yet undetermined who will start Saturday. But after sophomore Paul Dainton’s successful performances over the weekend, he has a good chance of starting in net.

Dainton entered Friday’s game to replace junior Dan Meyers after Providence scored its fourth goal of the game halfway through the second period. The 9-4 UMass win was the first time Dainton, who had been injured, saw game experience this season.

“I thought he did a real good job coming in cold on Friday and it wasn’t as much about Danny as much as it was about changing it up a little bit. And stopping the game the way it was being played, maybe get us to settle down a little bit and I thought Paul helped us settle down,” Cahoon said.

Dainton competed hard and followed the puck well, contributing to his high number of saves over the weekend, he made 17 saves on Friday and 24 on Saturday in UMass’ 5-1 win over Providence.

“I think game experience is critical with him because he needs to get into more of a rhythm so that he skates the position like he’s capable of, but all and all it was a good performance,” Cahoon said.

Meyers has allowed 10 goals this season in five games with 120 saves for a record of 2-1-1 and recorded one shutout in UMass’ 6-0 win over Rensselaer on Oct. 21.

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]