Merrimack entered yesterday afternoon’s matchup with No. 4 Boston College winless in its last 23 trips to Chestnut Hill.
The seventh-ranked Warriors came within inches of ending that streak, before 7,114 people at Conte Forum, walking away with a 2-2 tie after having what appeared to be a goal in overtime negated by a high stick.
The Eagles poured two pucks past Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata (21 saves) in the second, but the Warriors regrouped to score the game’s final two goals, including a desperation strike with 1:10 remaining and Cannata off for the extra attacker.
With 12.9 seconds remaining in OT, the Warriors’ Rhett Bly knocked a shot from Jordan Heywood out of the air to Kyle Singleton in front of the net, and Singleton deposited the puck into the net. However, after an official review, it was ruled Bly had raised his stick above the level of the crossbar to make the deflection and the goal was waved off.
“It’s always good when you come back and tie a game,’’ said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “I felt we played well overall, both teams, so if we were to come away without a point, it probably wouldn’t have been justice, so I guess justice, in Merrimack’s eyes, was served.’’
The six-on-five goal was the third of its kind on the year for Merrimack (11-4-4, 7-3-2 Hockey East).
The Warriors, who haven’t beaten BC at home since Halloween 1997, got two goals from freshman Connor Toomey, while Paul Carey and Steven Whitney (shorthanded) took care of the scoring for Boston College.
In the first period, it became clear that there is no love lost between the teams, as BC’s Chris Kreider and Merrimack’s Josh Myers were sent off for hitting after the whistle just 3:49 in.
The Eagles needed 47 seconds to find the back of the net in the second period, with Carey making a nifty backhand-to-forehand move to beat Cannata for his seventh goal of the season.
At 5:10, the Warriors suffered a defensive breakdown, as Heywood and Karl Stollery moved to play the puck on a two on two, leaving Whitney alone in front for an easy goal.
Merrimack responded 2:38 later, as Ryan Flannigan’s cross-ice pass found Toomey on the backdoor for the one-timer.
The Eagles’ lack of discipline hurt in the third period as they took three penalties, looking tired in the final minutes of play.
With just over a minute remaining, Toomey redirected a knuckling shot from Heywood behind Brian Billett (22 saves) to tie the game.
“We put ourselves in a jail with three penalties in the third period,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “It’s disheartening because for six minutes of play, we had to kill penalties. We couldn’t get [back the momentum].
“We’d have liked to get out of that game with a 2-1 win. We had some great offensive chances. It’s hard for me to believe that it was just a two-goal output for us.’’
The point moves the Eagles (13-7-1, 9-4-1) into a tie atop the Hockey East standings with Boston University, with 19 points apiece. Merrimack is alone in third place with 16 points.
“We always want to get the 2 points,’’ said Carey. “It’s just a tough finish between the goal in the last minute and their almost-win in overtime. At the end of the day we’ll take that 1 point and we play them twice more [this season], so I’m looking forward to that.’’