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NO. ANDOVER, Mass. - Senior forward Justin Bonitatibus had a goal and an assist and senior goaltender Andrew Braithwaite made 26 saves to help Merrimack earn a 3-1 win against Northeastern on Friday night at Lawler Arena.
The Warriors improve to 7-6-0 overall and 4-4-0 in Hockey East, while Northeastern drops to 5-7-1 overall, 3-6-1 in conference play. The teams will take the ice again Saturday at Matthews Arena at 7 p.m. with all the action airing live on the Merrimack radio network on 1400 AM.
Merrimack jumped on the board first as John Heffernan notched his first career goal, taking a feed from Brandon Sadlowski and broke in on goaltender Bryan Mountain, burying it over the goaltender's blocker at 11:03 of the first.
After Jake Newton evened the score 27 seconds later, Bonitatibus picked up his third in as many games, one-timing a Stephane Da Costa pass past Mountain on the power play at 15:56 of the first, giving the hosts the 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
The Warriors doubled their lead in the second as Elliott Sheen potted his fifth of the year at 12:25, taking feeds from Bonitatibus and Pat Bowen. Bowen started the play, feeding Bonitatibus with a pass that travelled over all three lines. As Bonitatibus skated towards Mountain, he dropped a pass right to Sheen, who eluded both defenders and wristed it past the freshman netminder to give the Warriors the 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Merrimack was forced to kill four third-period penalties including a two-man advantage of 51-seconds in which Braithwaite made four saves. Moments later, the senior goaltender sprawled to his left, making a left pad sad save on a streaking Newton. It looked like the Warriors would need to kill another two-man advantage, this time for 1:38 with 3:19 remaining, but the Huskies took a minor six-seconds into the power play, negating a key chance and essentially putting the game away for the hosts.
After surrendering 17 goals in the last three games, the Warrior defense returned to form blocking 22 shots, including 10 in the second and 11 in the final frame. Northeastern outshot the Warriors 12-2 in the third, but Braithwaite, who improved to 4-1 on the season, was there to make the save when called upon.
Merrimack killed off all six of Northeastern's power plays, while netting a power-play marker of its own for the 11th straight game.
Making his first career start after Huskies starting goaltender Chris Rawlings was a late scratch with an injury, Mountain turned aside 14 shots.