Gallant Merrimack hockey run ends in state semifinals

CONCORD – In retrospect, Wednesday night’s Division II hockey semifinal vs. No. 2 Dover for the Merrimack High School Tomahawks wasn’t about the present, it was about the future.

It became pretty apparent early on in the Green Wave’s 8-1 win at Everett Arena that the upstart No. 6 ‘Hawks lacked the depth and legs to keep skating with their 17-3 opponents.

But when you look at the Tomahawks roster, it’s also pretty apparent they expect to be back here next year, graduating just one senior.

“Personally, I think when you come to these things, whether you win or lose, it’s an experience for you that the kids get,” Merrimack coach Dan Belliveau said. “They get a little taste of it. Once you get a little taste of it, now you know what it takes.”

For the ‘Hawks (10-8-2) , it was going to take a lot as they’ve been shorthanded due to injury all season long, and last night one of their top defensemen, freshman Drew Lemire, was so ill he lasted just two periods. Goalie Ben Hardy equaled his save total from the stunning quarterfinal upset/shutout of Goffstown, but this time he had to face 44 shots.

The Green Wave got two early goals 31 seconds apart by Nicholas Marchuk and Jameson Goodridge (7:43 and 8:14) for a 2-0 lead and that got them on their way.

“Obviously, our plan coming in was to play aggressive and run our three lines like we’ve tried to do all year,” Dover coach Mike Young said, his team set for a 2:45 p.m. Saturday final at Manchester’s SNHU Arena. “We knew we were going to face a scrappy team. … So we wanted to come out early, we got a couple of quick ones that set the tone and took the wind out of their sails. Our guys were buzzing today, played really well, and played the type of hockey I was looking for.”

“The depth is something we’ve had to contend with all year long,” Belliveau said. “And tonight depth was a big problem for us.”

Merrimack’s lone score by Dylan Sadowski (Noah Melker and Jason De Beaucourt assists) answered the first two Wave goals to make it 2-1, but it was only that close for a couple of minutes. It came on the ‘Hawks’ first shot on Dover goalie Austin Gilbert.