Merrimack makes easy work of Owls

MANCHESTER – It may be the holidays, a time where people are looking to close up shop and get away, but the Merrimack High School ice hockey team is open for business.

The Tomahawks were simply methodical last week in their 12-3 rout of a young Timberlane team at West Side Arena.

"We come in every week and know we have a job to do," Merrimack coach Matt Davis said. "When we come in here, we know the things we have to execute. I’m very clear about that."

It didn’t get any clearer last Monday, when the ‘Hawks (2-0) scored two goals in the first five minutes, six in all in the first period, and never looked back. It was likely even easier than they thought, which makes you wonder about their potential down the road.

"We do well when we play well, when we play together as a team," said Merrimack forward Kyle Feeney, who had a hat trick. "We came into it thinking it was going to be a good game, close. We’re pretty hungry, and pretty close, too."

There wasn’t much celebration after scores, even the early ones. The ‘Hawks just got right back out and kept the pressure on a 1-2 Owl team that has nine freshman and seven sophomores.

Remember, they have several back from a squad that came an overtime goal away from the Division II finals a year ago.

"I think they’re better than last year," Timberlane coach Steve Costa said. "They’re faster and stronger than they were last year."

Well, at least they’re prolific on the offensive end, with 18 goals in their first two games. After Feeney, the ‘Hawks also got a hat trick (and an assist) from junior Jeff Gerhard. Tucker Twardosky added a goal and three assists, while other leaders included Ryan Tupper, Ryan Downie and Brennan Gillis, who scored a goal and assist apiece.

Owen Hastings and John Tiano added single goals while Hunter Burke, Tyler Brewster, Aaron Tupper, Greg Bourque and Darwin Carozza each had an assist.

"I think we’ll have a very good season," Davis said. "I’ve seen a few teams and I know we’ll have a challenge with them – teams like Bow, Windham, Spaulding, Dover, Goffstown.

"But to tell you the truth, I have no idea where we stand. But if we do our job in terms of offense and defensive positioning, we’re a tough team to beat. We dump it in, charge the heck out of (opponents) and don’t let them process the information when they’re trying to break out."

Merrimack led 11-1 after two periods. Timberlane got goals from Alexander Passafiume, Ryan Lewis and Jacob Heckman, who also had an assist. Tomahawk goalies Greg Amato and Dennis Rottunde combined for 10 saves while besieged Owl goalies Jake Chaput and Eric Mills had a combined 20.

Davis’ problem now is keeping the Tomahawk business thriving. They don’t play a meaningful game – three games in last weekend’s Blue Devil Classic in Salem don’t count – until they visit Goffstown on Jan. 6.

"We’ll have them ready to work," Davis said. "I’ll be a little agitated at practice to help things through."

Hey, for the ‘Hawks, that’s just business as usual.