UNH men’s hockey falls at Merrimack College

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Jeff Wyer (Reading Mass.) stopped a career-high 32 shots, but the fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team dropped Friday night’s game, 3-2, at Merrimack College in Hockey East action at Lawler Arena.

UNH falls to 14-6-2 overall with a 9-5-1 mark in Hockey East play. The Warriors are now 10-9-5 overall and 8-5-2 in conference play. The Wildcats drop back-to-back league games for the first time this season.

Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) and Casey Thrush (Easton, Md.) each scored for the Wildcats, while Mike Collins had a pair of goals for the Warriors.

With the game tied 2-2 after two, Merrimack captured the game-winning goal just seven seconds into the third as Brian Christie scored on a shot that appeared to deflect in off a UNH stick. Jordan Heywood and Collins assisted on the game-winner. UNH was have chances to tie it with a pair of third period power plays and 1:33 of extra-attacker play, but could not break through.

In the first, Merrimack broke the scoreless deadlock with exactly one minute remaining in the first period. Both teams had chances, but it was a rebound circle shot from Mike Collins that found the back of the net through traffic. Brian Christie and Quinn Gould assisted on the goal at 19:00 of the first. The Warriors held a 12-9 shot advantage.

UNH tied it at 3:50 of the second period as a Knodel point shot deflect in off a Merrimack skate to make it 1-1. Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.) assisted on the goal. The Wildcats took the lead at 9:40 of the second as Casey Thrush (Easton, Md.) scored on a wraparound goal from behind the goal line. Connor Hardowa (Edmonton, Alberta) assisted on the goal that gave UNH the 2-1 edge. The Warriors scored just 32 seconds later to tie it as Collins scored his second of the night with assists from Christie and Gould at 10:12. The teams went into the second intermission tied at 2-2 with UNH holding a 16-10 shot advantage in the middle stanza.

Merrimack held a 35-31 shot advantage for the game including a 13-6 edge in the third period.

Both teams were 0-3 on the power play.

Wyer made his first start of the season and made double digit saves in two periods, but falls to 1-2-0 on the season. Sam Marotta made 29 saves including 14 in the second and improves to 7-4-3.

UNH and Merrimack complete the home-and-home series Saturday night at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. Puck drops at 5 p.m. and tickets are still available by visiting the Verizon Wireless Arena box office or at Ticketmaster.com.