Northeastern beat Merrimack, 4-1, in a penalty-filled game on Friday night at Matthews Arena. Senior Bryan Esner scored a short-handed goal and notched an assist on sophomore defenseman Denis Chisholm's first career goal in the third period. Rob Rassey and Dennis McCauley also scored while Ray Ortiz and Joe Vitale each recorded two assists.
The win was the Huskies' first in Hockey East and improved the Huskies to 3-8-2 overall and 1-7-2 in Hockey East. NU moved up to ninth in a tight race in the Hockey East standings, just five points behind Boston College, Massachusetts and Maine, which are tied for fourth in the league. Merrimack fell to 1-11-1 overall and 1-7-0 in Hockey East.
Northeastern scored the first goal of the game when Rassey potted a rebound at 12:27 in the first period. Jimmy Russo shot the rebound of a Vitale shot and Russo's rebound landed in front for Rassey.
Merrimack evened the score with a power play got at 19:39 in the first. Pat Kimball won a battle for the puck and passed it to Joe Loprieno at the point. Loprieno shot it past Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen on Thiessen's stick-side for his first goal of the season.
McCauley scored what proved to be the game-winning goal at 16:17 in the second period to put the Huskies ahead for good. Vitale shot the puck into the crease and McCauley netted it for his third goal of the season.
Esner helped the Huskies put the game away in the third period with a short-handed goal at 2:32. Thiessen was out of position and Merrimack's Mike Alexiou shot the puck on the open net. NU defenseman Louis Liotti blocked the shot and got the puck to Ray Ortiz, who passed it to Esner and headed up the ice. Esner passed it back to Ortiz before Ortiz set him up for a shot over the glove of Merrimack goalie Patrick Watson.
Chisholm's first career goal capped the game for the Huskies. Esner started the scoring play when he passed the puck to Ortiz and Ortiz passed it to Chisholm, who was wide open on the left side. Chisholm ripped a slapshot past Watson to make it 4-1 at 10:30 in the third period.
Thiessen made 22 saves in the game to get his second win of the season while Watson stopped 27 shots. Northeastern went 1-10 on power plays while Merrimack went 1-12.
The teams rematch on Saturday night at Lawler Arena at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on 890 ESPN Boston with Rob Rudnick and Bill Doherty.