NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Karl Stollery (Camrose, AB) registered his first career two-goal game as Merrimack improved to 9-1 at home, tops in the country, snapping UNH's 11-game Hockey East unbeaten streak in a 3-2 victory in front of 2,614 fans at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (9-13-0, 6-9-0 HEA) and New Hampshire (12-8-4, 11-3-3 HEA) will conclude their season series Saturday night at the Whittemore Center at 7 p.m.
With both teams skating four aside to open the third, Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) broke in on Brian Foster, only to be robbed off a sprawling save by the netminder, but Stollery was there to slap home the rebound into a vacated net just 29 seconds in, giving the Warriors the 3-2 advantage.
Merrimack held on from there, outshooting UNH 18-8 in the third and 43-30 in the game, to improve to 9-1 at home, tops in the country and the best record after a ten-game span in school history.
Andrew Braithwaite (Kingston, ON) picked up his second straight win with 28 saves, including 11 in the first period and seven on Bobby Butler.
The Warriors opened the scoring at 6:43 of the first as Chris Barton (Calgary, AB) notched his team-leading 13th of the season putting home a rebound off a Jeff Velleca (Waterbury, CT) shot. Da Costa pushed the puck up to the ice to a dangling Velleca, who broke in two-on-one with Barton to give the hosts the early advantage.
After Butler evened the score on a two-man advantage tally 49 seconds into the second, the Warriors notched a power-play marker of their own as a Stollery wrist shot from the point escaped traffic in front and beat a screened Brian Foster at 11:17. J.C. Robitaille (Des Ruisseaux, QC) and Barton picked up the assists on Stollery's first of the night as the Merrimack power play, ranked second in the country, struck for its 26th power-play goal of the season.
The Wildcats pulled even with just two seconds remaining in the second, as Paul Thompson knocked in his 14th of the season after Braithwaite robbed Butler with a glove save. Thompson found the loose puck next to Braithwaite and tucked it in the near post to even the score.
But Merrimack turned the tide back in its favor to start the third, getting what proved to be the game-winner in the first minute and using a sustained attack to limit the quality scoring chances in front of Braithwaite for the remainder of the game.
The Warriors, who had not beaten UNH in the last six meetings in North Andover, have now beaten nine different teams, six in Hockey East, at home, including UNH, BU, BC and Vermont. They also equaled last season's entire output of 72 goals in tonight's game.
Stollery, Barton and Da Costa each had multi-point games in the victory, as Merrimack's power play was 1-for-7 on the night, compared to 1-5 for UNH.
Foster was stellar, keeping his team in the game with 40 saves, as Merrimack fired a season-high 43 shots, tying its output from two weeks ago against Boston University. Foster came up with numerous saves in odd-man rushes, including stops on Carter Madsen (Okotoks, AB), Jesse Todd (Camrose, AB) and Elliott Sheen (Lethbridge, AB).