NORTH ANDOVER, MA - The Warriors improved to 6-1-1 over their last eight contests with a 4-2 victory over the UMass Minutemen on Sunday afternoon at Lawler Arena. With the win, Merrimack is tied with UNH for second place in Hockey East with 24 points. The Warriors are just one point back of Boston College for first place in the standings.
#20 Merrimack (13-10-5, 11-6-2 HEA) will return home on Friday for a first place showdown with #4/5 Boston College for a 7:30 p.m. faceoff. Tickets are still available for the game on Friday at Lawler Arena against Boston College and can be purchased at www.merrimackathletics.com or by calling the box office at 978-837-5324.
Sophomore Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, CO) netted his first goal since December 1 against Providence to give the Warriors the 3-2 lead with just over five minutes to play. Myers' fifth tally of the season ended up being the game-winning goal, giving him three game-winners for the year. Myers took a no look feed from Shawn Bates (Ft. Saskatechewan, AB) and skated past the UMass defender before beating Kevin Boyle over his glove. Bates picked up his second assist of the game while Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) also picked up his eighth assist of the season on the goal.
After dominating most of the opening period, outshooting the Minutemen 18-3 for the period, the Warriors finally broke through with their first goal of the game with 3:25 to play in the first. Bates took a feed from Clayton Jardine (Lacombe, AB) and sped in on a partial breakaway which was saved by Kevin Boyle but the rebound was put in by Justin Mansfield (Arlington, Mass.) who was crashing the net. The Bates burst also caused a power play for the Warriors as he drew the holding call before Mansfield put in his third goal of the season.
Just 26 seconds later the Minutemen took a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct as Conor Allen got called for a contact to the head penalty. After killing the two-man advantage opportunity by the Warriors, UMass tied the score 1-1 as Branden Gracel raced in shorthanded and beat Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) after a nice lead pass by Michael Pereira.
After killing off the remainder of the five minute major penalty, the Minutemen took the lead early in the second period as Eddie Olczyk scored his second goal of the season after a pass from Zack LaRue.
The Warriors wasted no time to tie the game up for the second time as Quinn Gould (Fort McMurray, AB) scored his fifth goal of the season. Gould took a cross ice saucer pass from Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) and he buried it behind Boyle. Freshman Brian Christie (West Chester, PA) also picked up his tenth assist of the year on Gould's marker.
After the Myers tally gave the Warriors the 3-2 lead, Collins iced the game for Merrimack with his team-high 15th goal of the season with 46 seconds to play on the empty net. Heywood and Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) picked up the assists on Collins' empty net goal.
Three Warriors finished the game with multi-point efforts as Collins, Bates and Heywood each finished with two points in the win. Bates now has two straight multi-point efforts for the Warriors. The Warriors improve to 10-3-1 in Hockey East games on the year when Collins records at least one point.
Marotta picked up his tenth win of the season as he finished the game with 16 saves while Boyle finished with 37 saves in the losing effort.
Merrimack finished the game going 0-for-6 on their power play opportunities with 13 shots on goal while the Minutemen finished 0-for-3 with only one shot on goal on their power play chances. Merrimack improves to 8-1-0 over their last nine games against UMass and a 7-0-0 record a Lawler Arena against the Minutemen in their last seven trips to North Andover.