BOSTON, Mass. - Despite outshooting the Warriors, 25-13, in the last two periods, No. 18 Merrimack outlasted Northeastern, 2-1, on Friday night at Matthews Arena. Sophomore forward Steve Quailer broke through and netted his first goal of the season in an effort to rally a comeback in the third period.
The Huskies outshot Merrimack, 28-25, on the evening while sophomore netminder Chris Rawlings made 23 stops and MC's Joe Cannata steered aside 27 attempts.
Justin Daniels made his second-consecutive start and logged his first point of the season while senior Mike Hewkin recorded his third assist in as many games.
Northeastern's defense made a pair of strong stands to start off the first period. Hewkin was able to sweep out a loose puck that was ripe for a rebound before the Huskies killed off sophomore Drew Ellement's holding penalty at 5:42 of the first period. The Warriors rattled off a couple grade-A chances, highlighted by Brandon Brohag ringing one off the left pipe from the left dot, but Northeastern was able to keep MC off the board despite a wave of Warriors' chances.
The Huskies took to the power play at 10:29 of the first after Kyle Bigos was flagged for holding. Freshman Jamie Oleksiak offered up Northeastern's lone shot, but it nearly found the back of the net. Cannata managed to get the last stitch of his glove on the puck to turn away the blast from between the circles.
At 18:51 of the first, Merrimack's offense finally broke through on the board on a put-back goal from Chris Barton to draw first blood. Jesse Todd tossed up the first shot into Rawlings' chest, but NU's goaltender lost in one the bounce and Barton pounced for the 1-0 edge.
Drew Daniels' elbowing call at 19:31 put the Huskies on the penalty kill to start the second period, but Northeastern's unit did not permit any good looks for the Warriors.
At 5:54 of the second stanza, it appeared the Huskies were going to gain a 5-on-3 advantage for 53 seconds, but five seconds after Ryan Flanigan's interference call at 5:54, Oleksiak took a seat at 5:59. Northeastern did not convert on the 4-on-3, but D. Daniels did his best once both teams evened out to 5-on-5. D. Daniels slashed through the crease and tested Cannata low, but MC's goaltender legged it away. Moments later, D. Daniels was inches away from his first tally of the season before being greeted by iron.
Merrimack doubled its lead on a power play tally at 16:04 after killing off Shawn Bates' penalty for high-sticking assessed at 12:28. Rookie Zak Stone took an elbowing call at 15:28 and Stephane Da Costa capitalized on Stollery's loose rebound for the 2-0 cushion. Da Costa slid the puck up to Bates atop the zone and he rammed it towards NU's net. The puck bounced around near the goalmouth and Da Costa swooped in and roofed the loose garbage.
The Huskies stormed out of the gates in the third and their heavy pressure paid off on a heads-up play by Qualier at 5:07 of the third frame. Hewkin originated the play with a snap shot from the right dot. The puck bounced over to J. Daniels and it was then redirected high into the air on a scrum on the far post. Quailer grabbed the puck with his hand about three feet from the goal line, laid it back down on the ice at the perfect angle as a Merrimack defender fortuitously knocked it in. Quailer's tally cut the Warriors' advantage in half, 2-1.
Senior Randy Guzior and Jesse Todd each received coincidentals at 17:33, but NU's senior defenseman was also whistled for a cross-checking penalty to give Merrimack and extra skater in the waning moments. The Warriors did not convert, but handled the puck and kept the Huskies away from their net to seal the contest.
The Huskies make their first trip to North Andover, Mass. to close out the home-and-home series with Merrimack tomorrow night, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.
Game Notes - Fifty games had elapsed for Northeastern since Steve Quailer's last goal. The Arvada, Colo. Native notched his first marker of the season. It marks his 11th-career goal and 27th point, overall
- Justin Daniels registered his first point of the season in just his fourth appearance of the year. J. Daniels now has a career scoring line of 8-8-16
- Mike Hewkin has registered three assists in as many games. The St. Charles, Mo. native generated Northeastern's first goal of the night and had a two-point performance against Providence on Nov. 20