PROVIDENCE, RI – Ross Mauermann scored 1:54 into overtime, handing #1 Merrimack its first defeat of the season, as Providence prevailed 2-1 Friday night at Schneider Arena.
Merrimack (9-1-1, 6-1-1 HEA) will host Providence Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lawler Arena. The game will be televised live on the Universal Sports Network (Channel 288 Comcast, 466 on Fios). As Merrimack goes for its 11th straight sellout at home, less than 200 tickets remain for purchase online at merrimackathletics.com and at the Merrimack ticket office.
Mauermann got a rebound off a Myles Harvey shot right in front of Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) and knocked it past the senior goaltender to end Merrimack's longest unbeaten streak since joining Hockey East 23 years ago.
Cannata stopped 34 shots, including 14 in the third period, continuing Merrimack's streak of allowing two or fewer goals in every game this season.
Jesse Todd (Calgary, AB) scored Merrimack's lone goal, a third-period power play marker, his fifth of the year.
Despite a scoreless first period, the Warriors came out strong, outshooting Providence 13-10, firing eight shots in the first five minutes but were unable to beat Alex Beaudry, as Shawn Bates (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) was denied twice on breakaways.
Providence would get on the board first, scoring short-handed as Andy Balysky fluttered a shot from just outside the faceoff circle that appeared to be redirected and sailed past the glove of Cannata at 15:38 of the second.
The Warriors had plenty of chances in the second, including a breakaway from Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) that went high over the glove of Beaudry during a Merrimack power play.
Merrimack got its fourth power play of the game and finally cashed in as Todd tied it with a booming one-timer for his fifth of the year at 9:01. Mike Collins (Boston, MA) fed the puck to Flanigan, who worked it into the slot to Todd, who blasted it over the blocker of Beaudry.
The visitors went right back on the power play minutes later, and Collins nearly gave them the lead, but his wrister glanced off the post.
Outshooting Merrimack 14-5 in the third, Providence received a man-advantage of its own with 5:43 to play, but Cannata made two big saves to keep the game tied and send it to sudden death, Merrimack's third straight road game that required more than 60 minutes of play.
That set the stage for Mauermann in overtime, as the Friars improved to 7-6-1 overall, 5-3-0 in Hockey East. All of Providence's seven wins have come at home this year.
The Friars outshot Merrimack 36-27, including 26-14 after the first period.
"We had 48 shot attempts, and that's not enough," said head coach Mark Dennehy. "We passed up way too many opportunities to shoot. I was proud of the way we battled back and gave ourselves a chance to win."
Tops in the league and ninth nationally, Merrimack went 1-for-5 on the power play and has scored on the man advantage in 10 of 11 games this year. The Warriors' penalty kill, which entered the night fourth in the country and first in Hockey East, killed all five Friar power plays.
Beaudry finished with 26 stops, as the Friars have now defeated Merrimack in each of the last three meetings at Schneider Arena.
Merrimack was the last team in the country to suffer a loss and was the last team to enter December unbeaten since Maine in 1992.