NORTH ANDOVER, MA - The Merrimack hockey team defeated the #12/13 UMass Lowell River Hawks on Friday night in front of a sold out Lawler Arena by the score of 1-0. Junior Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) made 25 saves in his third career shutout and second of the season.
The win for the Warriors gives Merrimack Head Coach Mark Dennehy his 100th career victory at Merrimack in only his eighth season at the helm.
Merrimack (11-10-5, 9-6-2 HEA) will return to action tomorrow night as they will travel to take on #4 UNH at 7:00 p.m. The game will also be aired on WBIN and Fox College Sports Atlantic. With the win, Merrimack is now tied for fourth in Hockey East with the Providence Friars with one game-in-hand. The Warriors sit one point behind Boston University for third place with a game-in-hand on the Terriers as well.
The Warriors picked up the game-winning goal 7:40 into the final period as freshman Justin Hussar (Lancaster, NY) picked up his third goal of the season. Junior captain Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) threw the puck into the corner where Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) dug the puck out of the corner and fed a wide open Hussar who buried the puck over Doug Carr's glove from the right circle.
The Warriors penalty kill led the way all night long as they killed off two-man advantages on two separate occasions and a 6-on-3 at the end of the game with the River Hawks net empty. The penalty kill of the Warriors held UMass Lowell to only eight shots on goal and 0-for-8 on their opportunities.
Despite finishing the opening period with the 14-10 advantage in shots on goal, the Warriors were not able to slip one past Carr who made a couple big saves.
Just over midway through the second period the Warriors were faced with a 5-on-3 penalty kill opportunity which they successfully killed off. Shots in the second period favored the River Hawks by the margin of 11-6.
After the game-winner from Hussar, his first career game-winning goal, the Warriors defense held off the River Hawks down the stretch. With 2:24 to play in the game the Warriors took a penalty to give Lowell the power play. The River Hawks pulled their goalie making it a 6-on-4 advantage. Following another Merrimack penalty the River Hawks had the 6-on-3 advantage but they were held to only two shots and the Warriors killed it off.
On the big penalty kill at the end of the game, sophomore Clayton Jardine (Lacombe, AB) nearly ended the game with his full ice shot at the empty net but the puck hit the post and went harmlessly into the corner.
The Warriors defense blocked 19 shots on the night as Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, BC) blocked a game-high five shots while Heywood racked up four in the victory.
Another key stat in the victory was the faceoff battle as the Warriors held the 44-31 advantage. Bly added to his nation lead in faceoff wins leading the Warriors all night, finishing the game with 15 wins in 20 chances.
Leading scorer, Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) did not record a point for only the second time in conference play for the Warriors. Collins leads Hockey East in conference scoring with 25 points on the season.
Merrimack finished the game going 0-4 on the power play and were only able to take three shots on goal on their opportunities.
Carr finished with 26 saves for the River Hawks in the losing effort while Marotta picked up his third career shutout at Lawler Arena.
With the win, Merrimack improves to 4-2-1 against the River Hawks in their last seven match-ups including holding a 3-1 record at Lawler Arena in their last four. The Warriors also hand the River Hawks their first lost in two months.