NORTH ANDOVER, MA - #5 Merrimack suffered its second home loss of the season and its first non-conference home loss in six years as #12/11 Union defeated the Warriors 3-1 in front of sellout crowd of 2,489 at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (10-3-2, 7-2-1 HEA) will return to action at the Ledyard National Bank Classic on December 30 against St. Lawrence at 4 p.m. in the first game of the tournament hosted by Dartmouth.
The Warriors ran into penalty trouble in the first, as Union took the first-period lead as Daniel Carr scored on a two-man advantage at 13:47, taking feeds from Kelly Zajac and Mat Bodie for his eighth of the year. Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) kept the Warriors in it early, making six other saves with the Dutchmen on the power play, including rebound stops on Josh Jooris and Max Novak.
After Cannata made multiple early second-period saves, including a great right pad stop on Carr nine minutes into the second, Shawn Bates (Ft. Saskatchewan, AB) got the Warriors on the board, as his wrist shot from the left faceoff circle fluttered over the glove of Troy Grosenick at 15:06. Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) and Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA) picked up assists on Bates' second of the year.
With Merrimack down a man just minutes later, Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) had a shorthanded breakaway, but his shot went wide of the net. The Dutchmen came right down the ice, and Shayne Gostisbehere skated around two diving Merrimack defenders and beat Cannata for his second of the year at 17:59.
Merrimack generated late chances in the third, including a redirect from Bly with four minutes to play and a wrister from Mike Collins (Boston, MA) that was stopped by the blocker of Grosenick.
Zajac put the game away with an empty netter with 12 seconds left, sending Merrimack to its first home non-conference loss since October 24, 2006. The Warriors were 12-0 over the last five seasons at Lawler against non-conference teams and 9-0-2 in all non-conference meetings over the last three seasons.
Union outshot Merrimack 34-20, with Cannata making 31 stops, 12 on the power play. The 20 shots were a season-low for Merrimack.
Merrimack went 0-for-5 on the power play, failing to get a shot on its first four man-advantages. Union went 2-for-7 in the win.
For Merrimack, it marked the 12th sellout in 13 games at Lawler Arena. They fell to 31-7-3 at Lawler Arena since the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
Union improved to 9-3-5 overall with the victory.
Saturday's game marked the first nationally televised broadcast and first high-definition broadcast at Lawler Arena as the game was broadcast on WBIN locally and Fox College Sports Atlantic nationally.