NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Behind a three-point night from junior Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.), the Merrimack hockey team defeated the #4 UNH Wildcats in front of a sold out Lawler Arena on Friday night by the score of 3-2. With the win, the Merrimack senior class ties last year's senior class for the most wins in school history.
The last time Merrimack defeated a top-five team was October 30, 2010 when the Warriors beat #2 Boston College by the score of 4-2 at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (10-9-5, 8-5-2 HEA) will travel to Manchester, NH to take on the #4 UNH Wildcats again tomorrow night at the Verizon Wireless Center. Puck drop is set for 5:00 p.m. WGAM will be hosting a Merrimack hockey pregame party from Jillian's, right across the street from the Verizon Wireless Center from 2-4 p.m.
With the win, Merrimack is now tied with Providence for fourth place in the Hockey East standings with one game-in-hand on the Friars and two points behind Boston University for third place in the Hockey East.
The Warriors registered the game-winning goal just seven seconds into the third period as freshman Brian Christie (West Chester, PA) won the opening draw and it ended up on the stick of Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) who skated in over the line and found Christie in between the circles. Christie took the pass and unleashed a quick wrist shot over the blocker of the UNH goaltender for the winning goal. Heywood and Collins picked up assists on Christie's fourth goal of the season.
Merrimack opened the scoring with one minute to play in the first period as leading scorer, Collins, deposited his first goal of the night and 12th of the season. Collins took a feed from Quinn Gould (Fort McMurray, AB) and beat Jeff Wyer over the shoulder. Christie also picked up an assist on the Collins tally.
The Wildcats scored back-to-back goals early in the second period to take the 2-1 lead just 9:40 into action. Eric Knodel scored the first goal as his bouncing shot from the point beat Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) over his left shoulder. A couple minutes later, Casey Thrush found the back of the net after a Connor Hardowa pass.
Collins didn't waste any time to respond with the tying goal as he took the puck behind the net, skated out front looking to the point and fired a shot just inside the post to beat Wyer. The assists on the goal again went to Christie and Gould.
After the quick Merrimack goal in the third, the two teams went back and forth with the Warriors holding the 13-6 advantage in the third in shots on goal. The Wildcats pulled their goalie with just over a minute to play in the game but they were not able to beat Marotta.
Collins added to his team leading 27 points by adding three more tonight while Christie recorded his first-career three point game in the win. Gould also picked up first-career two assist game. Collins now leads the Hockey East in conference points with 25 points in conference action.
Marotta continued to stand tall for the Warriors finishing with 29 saves in his seventh win of the season. Wyer made 32 saves in the losing effort for UNH.
Both teams finished the game going 0-3 on the power play with four shots on goal.
Merrimack improves to 6-2-3 in their last 11 games and 16-2-6 over the last two seasons when leading after one period of play.