NIETO'S THREE POINTS HELP BOSTON UNIVERSITY PAST MERRIMACK, 5-2
Junior forward Matt Nieto registers two goals and assist for Terriers
BOSTON - The No. 19 Boston University men's ice hockey team ended its recent home woes with a 5-2 victory over No. 17 Merrimack on Tuesday evening at Agganis Arena. The Terriers completed a season sweep of the Warriors and improved to 15-14-2 overall and 12-9-2 in Hockey East play.
Junior Matt Nieto tallied two goals and an assist and turned in a plus-4 rating while sophomore linemate Evan Rodrigues added a goal and an assist.
The Terriers scored three goals in the opening period and added two more in the second to take a commanding 5-0 lead before allowing the visitors to score two third-period goals. BU entered the night on a five-game home winless streak (0-4-1), its longest since moving to campus in 1971.
Freshman Matt O'Connor posted 32 saves in goal for the Terriers to earn his eighth victory of the season. Sam Marotta, Merrimack's starting goaltender, was chased after making 16 saves on 19 shots in the first period. Rasumus Tirronen played the final two periods and recorded 14 stops.
The Terriers remain in sixth place in the Hockey East standings, but are just one point behind fifth-place Merrimack and only two points shy of a four-team tie atop the conference.
Rodrigues opened the scoring 9:47 into the game when he finished off a rush started by a blocked shot by senior Sean Escobedo.
Less than two minutes later, senior Wade Megan dangled around a Merrimack defender in the slot and fired a shot that went off junior Sahir Gill and in to make it a 2-0 contest.
The Terriers were not satisfied, however, and got another tally before the end of the first when Nieto's backhanded put-back attempt off a rebound went off sophomore Cason Hohmann's skate before tucking inside the left post with 4:19 left in the stanza.
BU, which had 19 shots on goal in the first, recorded just six in the second, but two found the back of the net.
Nieto was the beneficiary of a great drop pass by freshman Danny O'Regan on a 3-on-2 rush and scored while falling to the ice in the middle of the slot at 5:59 of the middle frame. He secured his first multi-goal game of the season less than seven minutes later when he beat Tirronen high glove side on a breakaway thanks to a great lead pass by Escobedo.
Entering the third with a 5-0 cushion, BU was unable to secure a shutout. Heywood scored a power-play goal through traffic at the 9:01 mark of the third before sending home a loose puck in the slot just under two minutes later.
The Terriers held a slim 35-34 shot advantage for the game but came up empty on all eight of its power-play opportunities. Merrimack converted on one of its six chances with the man advantage.
BU will return to action on Friday (March 1) when it opens up a weekend home series with Vermont. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.