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Sophomore forward Josh Myers scored two goals for the Warriors
SCHENECTADY, NY - Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, CO) scored twice in the third period, while Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, MA) made 33 saves as Merrimack defeated 2012 Frozen Four finalist and fifth-ranked Union College 4-1 on opening night in front of 2,087 at Messa Rink Saturday.
Merrimack (1-0-0) has a quick turnaround and will take on Northeastern University Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Hockey East opener live on WGAM Radio 1250 and 900 AM and online at wgamradio.com.
The big road victory marks the first time Merrimack has beaten a team ranked in the top five nationally on the road under Mark Dennehy and is the first in program history on the road since beating UNH in Durham on December 13, 2003.
The Warriors also handed Union, who last year captured the ECAC Championship en route to an appearance in the Final Four, its first home loss in 11 games (9-0-2), dating back to November 12, 2011 against Yale.
"The way our guys played in front of Sam (Marotta) tonight allowed him to see the puck clear and he played great tonight," said head coach Mark Dennehy.
"On my first goal, Shawn Bates made a great play by beating out the icing and finding me on the side of the net and I was able to stuff it in," said Josh Myers.
The visitors wasted no time as junior Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) notched the first goal of the season at 4:04 beating Troy Grosenick with a wrister from in between the circles. Bly, who scored twice in Merrimack's Hockey East Quarterfinal game two victory last year, took feeds from Dan Kolomatis (Basking Ridge, NJ) and Tom McCarthy (Maple Grove, MN) as Union outshot the Warriors 16-6 through 20 minutes.
In his second collegiate start, Marotta held his ground early with 16 first period stops, making a great glove stop off Daniel Ciampini just 2:42 into the game off a Warrior turnover.
"It takes everyone on the team in order for me to see the puck and tonight they did a great job of clearing the front of the net so I was able to see everything," Marotta stated.
Just 1:22 after Justin Mansfield (Arlington, MA) was stopped on a breakaway by Grosenick, Mat Botie got the hosts on the board, as his wrister from the point fluttered through traffic and by Marotta at 7:25, sending the teams to the locker room tied at one after two.
Twenty-one seconds after Marotta stopped a partial breakaway attempt by Matt Hatch, Myers put the Warriors back in front at 2:42 of the third with his first of two in the period. The sophomore nullified an icing with his speed and stuffed home a rebound past Grosenick off a feed from Shawn Bates (Ft. Saskatchewan, AB).
Just 2:19 later, Myers struck again, getting a rebound off a John Heffernan (Scituate, MA) shot and burying it for his first career two-goal game. Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) threw a shot on net, which was blocked in front, but the rebound went right to Heffernan who got it on net, leading to the rebound goal from Myers.
Merrimack's defense, which played with just five defenders for most of the night held from there, as Marotta turned aside all eight third-period shots. Kyle Singleton (Beaverton, OR) rounded out the scoring with an empty netter, with Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, BC) and Bly getting the helps at 18:57.
The Warriors killed all five Union power plays, as the Dutchmen held a 34-27 advantage in shots.
Merrimack's last win against a top-5 opponent overall came against Boston College, then second-ranked, on October 30, 2010 at Lawler Arena.