NORTH ANDOVER, MA – Merrimack sophomore Connor Toomey (Billerica, Mass.) scored the game-winning power-play goal with 34.7 seconds remaining in overtime to propel the #19 Warriors past #4 Boston College 2-1 in front of a sold out, 2,489 fans at Lawler Arena on Friday night. With the win, Merrimack now sits alone atop the Hockey East standings with 26 points.
Merrimack is now alone in first place in the Hockey East standings, one point in front of #4 Boston College. The Warriors have never been atop the Hockey East standings this late in a season since joining the Hockey East.
#19 Merrimack (14-10-5, 12-6-2 HEA) will hit the road for another crucial Hockey East game on Sunday as they will take on the Providence Friars at 4:00 p.m.
The win by the Warriors hands Boston College only their fifth loss in the last four seasons following the Beanpot. The Eagles are now 48-5-3 following the Beanpot over the past four seasons.
After a Pat Mullane penalty gave the Warriors the man advantage with 53 seconds left in the overtime period, Merrimack wasted no time to end the game and pick up their first power-play tally of the night. Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) fed junior Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) at the point and Heywood put a shot on Parker Milner which bounced off his right pad and right onto the stick of Toomey who buried the puck into the wide-open net for his fourth goal of the season with 34.7 seconds remaining. The assist for Collins was his 20th assist on the season while Heywood picked up his 10th helper.
The Warriors improve to 11-3-1 in Hockey East games on the year when Collins records at least one point.
The Eagles opened up the scoring in the second period after a scrum in front was jammed into the net by Quinn Smith for his fifth goal of the season. After a lengthy video review by the referees, the goal was upheld, giving Boston College the 1-0 lead with 11:02 to play in the second. Destry Straight and Travis Jeke picked up the assists on the Eagles lone goal.
With the Warriors trailing 1-0 early in the third, Sam Marotta (Bridewater, Mass.) made two huge saves on breakaways just minutes apart on Johnny Gaudreau. Marotta made back-to-back left pad saves on the two one-on-one attempts by the Eagles leading scorer.
The Warriors had multiple chances to score the tying goal in the third period including Shawn Bates (Ft. Saskatechewan, AB) who fired a puck that found its way behind Milner before being cleared away by an Eagle defender.
Following the Bates opportunity, Merrimack picked up the game-tying goal off of a faceoff win from junior Rhett Bly (Regina, SK). Bly won the draw clean to John Heffernan (Scituate, Mass.) who fired a shot that was blocked but after the block, Ben Bahe (Stillwater, MN) kicked a pass to Heffernan in the slot for the tying goal. Heffernan took the Bahe feed and snapped a quick shot over the glove of Milner, making the score 1-1 with 7:03 to play in regulation.
Marotta closed out the third period with two saves in the final 10 seconds on good opportunities from the Eagles. Marotta made 14 saves in the final period to force overtime for Merrimack, only their seventh overtime game of the season.
After several opportunities by each team in the first four minutes of the overtime period, the Warriors drew the Eagles captain into a penalty, giving them their eighth power-play of the contest. After a faceoff win by Toomey, the Warriors cycled the puck and got the point shot from Heywood and the rebound goal from Toomey, his first game-winning goal of the season.
Marotta was stellar in net making 39 saves in his 11th win of the season while Milner took the loss after making 40 saves of his own.
For the game, Merrimack outshot Boston College 42-40 including 14-9 on the power play. Merrimack finished the game going 1-for-8 on their power-play opportunities with 14 shots on goal while the Eagles finished 0-for-3 on their power-play chances.
Merrimack improves to 4-1-1 in their last six games against the Eagles at Lawler Arena.