UNH falls 4-1 to Merrimack at The Whit
DURHAM – With a share of first place in Hockey East on the line, the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team couldn’t come up with a much-wanted
After defeating Merrimack College twice in a week – once at Merrimack and once in a home-away-from-home home game in Manchester – the Wildcats couldn’t make it three wins in eight days, losing to the Warriors 4-1 Saturday night at the Whittemore Center.
The ‘Cats fell behind by a pair of goals midway through the contest and never recovered even though they played well-enough to win, out-shooting Merrimack 48-23.
The difference in the game was Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta who stopped high shots, low shots and the stuff inbetween.
When the Wildcats’ did get the puck past him, more often than not, it hit a post, the crossbar or both.
UNH falls to 11-6-1 in Hockey East and 16-7-2 overall. Merrimack is now 10-6-2- in league play and 12-11-5 overall. The loss keeps the Wildcats two points behind Boston College in the standings with the Eagles having played one more game than New Hampshire.
Although UNH controlled play in the early going, it was Merrimack that opened the scoring six minutes into the first period.
From behind the UNH net, the Warriors’ Josh Myers pushed the puck into the left corner where Clayton Jardine fed Shawn Bates at the faceoff dot for a quick wrister that caromed of Casey DeSmith’s stick and high into the net.
The teams played pretty evenly the rest of the period with UNH getting a slight edge in scoring chances.
Austin Block came close when he swept down the right wing, circled the Merrimack net and nearly stuff it inside the opposite post. Matt Willows had a couple good chances just outside the crease but Marotta turned aside both.
Little did UNH know at the time, but that would the pattern for the rest of the game.
UNH thought it tied the game eight minutes into the second period when from the UNH slot Kevin Goumas hit John Henrion at the red line, he tipped the puck to Dalton Speelman as he stormed down the slot. Speelman faded to the left and fired the puck toward the top right corner of the net where it clanged off the crossbar and goal post before popping out.
Less than a minute later Merrimack extended its lead to 2-0 on Bates’ second goal of the game with help again from Jardine and Myers.
The Wildcats closed the gap to 2-1 at the nine-minute mark during a delayed holding penalty call against the Warriors’ goalie Brendon Ellis. Nick Sorkin skated out from the left boards and fed Scott Pavelski in the high slot for a shot that slipped through traffic in front of the Merrimack net.
The Warriors claimed a two-goal lead with four minutes left in the period while Sorkin was serving time for high sticking. Mike Collins beat DeSmith with a blast from the left circle.
Merrimack’s Mike Collins scored into an empty UNH net with just more than a minute left in the third period to reach the final score.
UNH travels to play Providence College Thursday, Feb 8 at 7 p.m. and returns home Sunday at 4 p.m. for a return engagement with the Friars.