MANCHESTER, N.H. - The #7 Merrimack hockey team fell 4-3 in overtime of the NCAA Tournament Northeast Regional first round to #9 Notre Dame Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The Warriors finish the season with a 25-10-4 overall record.
Notre Dame's Anders Lee netted the game-winner 5:18 into the extra period. Lee one-handedly shot the puck towards the goal from the left-wing circle. Lee's bid deflected into the net to send the Fighting Irish to the Northeast Regional final.
Behind a power play goal from Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA) and a short-handed marker from Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY), the Warriors led 2-1 at the end of the first.
At 13:23, Bigos knocked in a rebound off a Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) slap shot for his first man-advantage marker of the year. Heywood's shot was stopped by Mike Johnson, but Flanigan got the rebound and threw it back in the crease where Bigos knocked it in.
Just 2:37 later, Flanigan notched his 16th of the season and second short-handed goal in three games, as he and Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) executed a 2-on-1 perfectly to make it 2-0. Da Costa came down the left side and fed Flanigan in the middle, who beat Johnson blocker side for his eighth goals in the last seven games and 10th point in five playoff games.
On the same power play, Calle Ridderwall took feeds from Billy Maday and T.J. Tynan and beat Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) on a one-timer to cut the Warriors' lead in half at 16:27 of the first.
Merrimack made it 3-1 at 2:58 of the second as Shawn Bates (Fort Sasketechwan, AB) stole the puck in the Irish zone and fed it to Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) in front of the goal, who buried it for his fourth of the year and first since January 15.
After Johnson made a great save on a short-handed breakaway on Jeff Velleca (Waterbury, CT), Notre Dame cut the lead back to one at 13:29 as Anders Lee notched his 23rd of the year beating Cannata glove side.
But the third period was all Notre Dame as the Irish outshot Merrimack and tied it at 5:32 as Billy Maday was credited with the goal after it glanced off a Merrimack defender and behind Cannata, after the junior goaltender made three point-blank stops during the same shift.
Notre Dame had two power plays in the final 9:28, but Merrimack killed them both as Cannata made huge stops on Ben Ryan and Riley Sheahan.
The Warriors owned a 35-34 advantage in shots for the contest.