NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Freshman Vinny Scotti (Vineland, NJ) came up with the biggest goal of his young career as he netted the game-winner with just over seven minutes to play as Merrimack defeated Army on Tuesday night at Lawler Arena by the score of 4-2. Merrimack improves to 12-0 against the Black Knights at home all-time.
Merrimack (6-7-3, 4-4-1 HEA) will have 18 days off before their next contest as they will travel to Vermont to take on Princeton and Union in the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup.
Scotti scored his first career game-winning goal in the third period as he beat the Army goalie with a shot after a wide shot by fellow freshman Justin Hussar (Lancaster, NY) found his stick. Justin Mansfield (Arlington, Mass.) also picked up his fourth assist of the season on Scotti's power play tally.
The Warriors dominated the opening 10 minutes of the contest as outshot the Black Knights by the margin of 10-0. Merrimack received their best chance of the period late as Brodhag was denied at point blank range by the Army goalie on a breakaway opportunity. The puck was jammed into the net but not before the referee blew his whistle so the two teams closed out the first period tied, 0-0, despite the Warriors having 19 shots compared to Army's five.
Hussar gave the Warriors their first goal of the night as he found a loose puck to the left of the Army goaltender and floated a shot into the open net for his second career goal. Brandon Brodhag (Brooklyn Park, MN) and Kyle Bigos (Upland, Calif.) picked up the assists on Hussar's goal.
Six minutes into the third period junior Shawn Bates (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) gave Merrimack the two goal advantage as he took a pass from Bigos and buried the puck between the legs of Rob Tadazak for his second goal of the year. Bigos tied a career-high with his two assist game and Clayton Jardine (Lacombe, AB) also picked up his first assist of the season on the play.
Army took advantage of their two man advantage after a Bigos penalty, scoring two quick goals to tie the score at two. Mac Lalor scored both goals for the Black Knights just over 30 seconds apart.
After Scotti connected on the game winner, leading scorer Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) iced the game with an empty net goal with four seconds to play. Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) and Brian Christie (West Chester, PA) picked up the assists on Collins' team-leading ninth tally of the season.
Rasmus Tirronen (Espoo, Finland) played well for the Warriors as he made 22 stops to pick up his third win of the season while Tadazak finished the game with 42 saves in the loss.
Merrimack finished the game with the 46-24 advantage in shots on goal including 19 in the opening period. The 19 shot first period is the most shots in a period for the Warriors since recording 20 in the third period on January 6, 2012 against Boston University, a game in which Merrimack lost 4-2. The 19 shots also mark the most shots in a period since 19 in the home opener last year against Army, which Merrimack won 3-2.
Merrimack finished the game going 1-3 on the power play with five shots while the Black Knights went 2-3 with four shots on goal.
With the win, Merrimack extends its winning streak against the Black Knights to 14 straight games, their longest current winning streak against any opponent.