NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College men's ice hockey team fell to New Hampshire, 5-2, in Game 3 of its Hockey East Tournament Opening Round series. The Wildcats rallied from two games down to win the series and advance to face top-seeded UMass Lowell, while the Warriors see their season end at the 15-win mark, their fifth-best win total since joining Hockey East.
Score: New Hampshire 5, Merrimack 2
Records: Merrimack (15-16-6, 8-8-6 HEA) | New Hampshire (14-18-5, 7-11-4 HEA)
Location: Lawler Rink | North Andover, Mass.
Game Duration: 2:10
- After handing Merrimack a 4-0 shutout setback last night, UNH needed only 1:14 to break the scoreless deadlock on Friday. The Wildcats added another at the 6:01 mark before Merrimack responded on the power play near the midpoint of the first. But the visitors siphoned some of that momentum back with just over five minutes left in the frame to carry a 3-1 edge into the first intermission.
- Following a scoreless second, UNH pushed its lead up to three thanks to a 5-on-3 goal early in the third; the Warriors would get as close as two goals later in the frame, but that would be the closest they would get before the Wildcats wrapped up the series with an empty-netter and earned the right to face top-seeded UMass Lowell in the quarterfinal round of the Hockey East Tournament.
- Michael McNicholas gave UNH the early lead at 1:14, scoring off a one-timer from the edge of the far circle that came from the nation's lead scorer, Tyler Kelleher. Jason Salvaggio started the play with a neutral-zone feed to McNicholas, who tried to put the puck on net but instead saw it bounce to Kelleher, and the two maneuvered into scoring position from down low.
- Frankie Cefalu's first career marker doubled the Wildcats' lead at 6:01. After the puck was wrapped around the boards to the left point, Anthony Wyse threw it on net, where it bounced off a pad to Jamie Hill. His bid was denied, but Cefalu put in the rebound at the back post to make it 2-0.
- Senior Hampus Gustafsson (Ljungby, Sweden) came through with his first goal in eight games and his team-leading 15th of the year with the Warriors skating on their first power play of the night at 9:54 of the first. Junior Jared Kolquist (Hermantown, Minn.) took a wraparound pass from classmate Brett Seney (London, Ontario) and sent it toward the net from the left wing half boards; that bid was redirected by Gustafsson to make it a one-goal game.
- UNH's Patrick Grasso restored the Wildcats' two-goal lead (3-1) at 14:45 o the first after finishing a one-timer at the right hash mark. Ara Nazarian forced a turnover behind the net and pushed the puck up to Grasso for the one-timer goal.
- Kelleher extended the Wildcats' lead to three early in the third period with his team skating on a 5-on-3 power play. McNicholas set up the one-timer that came inside the right circle at 1:07, making it a 4-1 UNH lead.
- Sophomore Derek Petti (Tewksbury, Mass.) got one back for the home side with his second goal of the weekend and fifth in his playoff career at 7:54. As Merrimack skated on its fourth power play, sophomore Alex Carle (Anchorage, Alaska) sent the puck in deep from the left point. The puck would bang off the back boards and out to Petti near the crease, where he would punch it past UNH goaltender Daniel Tirone and make it a 4-2 game.
- But Salvaggio would ice the game with his 23rd goal of the year – an empty-netter – at the 18:53 mark to round things out.
Notes & Notables
- Merrimack dropped a best-of-three series after winning Game 1 for the first time since joining Hockey East; the Warriors won the previous two times it won Game 1 in a best-of-three series (1998 vs. BU; 2011 vs. Maine).
- Merrimack moved to 4-11 all-time in the postseason against UNH, with a 3-3 record in the opening round. The Warriors also see their streak of advancing to the league tournament's quarterfinal round snapped at two seasons.
- Petti now has five career postseason goals in eight games, tied for most on the team.
Seney | Gustafsson | Tavernier
Hennig | L. Larsson | LeBlanc
Babcock | A. Larsson | Tibbet
Coomes | Petti | Irvine
Biega | Titcomb
Kolquist | Kovacevic
Carle | Cook
Game Leaders (MC // UNH)
- Points: Six players (1) // Michael McNicholas (3)
- Goals: Gustafsson/Petti (1) // Five players (1)
- Assists: Four players (1) // McNicholas (2)
- Shots: Brett Seney (5) // Salvaggio/Kelleher (6)
- Faceoffs Won: Hampus Gustafsson (12) // McNicholas (13)
- Saves: Collin Delia (25-for-29) // Daniel Tirone (44-for-46)
Facts and Figures (MC // UNH)
- Power Plays: 2-4 // 1-6
- Penalties: 7 Penalties – 14 Minutes // 5 Penalties – 10 Minutes
- Faceoffs: 35 // 29
- SOG: 14-13 // 14-6 // 18-11 // 46-30