MERRIMACK COLLEGE RALLIES PAST BOSTON UNIVERSITY, 3-2
Senior forward Mike Collins scores game-winning goal for Warriors
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Trailing by a goal heading into the third period, sophomore Brian Christie (West Chester, Pa.) and senior Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) lit the lamp six minutes apart, leading the Merrimack College men's ice hockey team to a come-from-behind-victory Boston University, 3-2, in the first round of a weekend home-and-home series on Friday night at Lawler Rink.
Playing from behind for the eighth time in 14 games this season, Merrimack rallied for just its second win in such situations and its first since Nov. 1, snapping a seven-game (0-6-1) winless stretch while earning its first Hockey East win of the season in the process.
After the Terriers snapped a 1-1 tie midway through the second, both sides battled over a physical 40-minute span that saw the Warriors hold a slim 17-16 edge in shots on goal after two periods, setting the stage for the Navy and Gold's third-period heroics.
On its third power play of the game early in the third, Merrimack established its offensive-zone presence after the draw, allowing senior Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, British Columbia) to thread a feed to a wide-open Christie on the right side of an open crease, who buried his first marker of the year at 4:27 of the third to tie things up.
Six minutes later, Collins - who returned after a five-game absence due to injury but still held the team's lead in scoring despite the hiatus - made his presence felt with a fantastic sequence with the Warriors holding the zone. Ellis first thread the puck across the slot to Collins, who circled near the edge of the far circle and whipped a shot on BU netminder Matt O'Connor, who stopped the initial chance and dumped it behind the net.
Christie, however, was there to pounce on a loose puck, and with all eyes drawn on him, the sophomore fed Collins again the slot, who made his second-chance shot count, beating O'Connor for the game-winner at 10:20 of the third.
From there on out, the Warriors would stymie BU on defense and nearly added an insurance marker after freshman Hampus Gustafsson (Ljungby, Sweden) banked one off the crossbar with five minutes to go. Meanwhile, junior Rasmus Tirronen (Espoo, Finland) stood tall over the final minutes and came up with the biggest save of the night with the Terriers using an extra attacker over the last 45 seconds, as Merrimack held on for its first victory over BU since Nov. 11, 2011.
In the first, freshman Jonathan Lashyn (Camrose, Alberta) was the beneficiary of a deflected slap shot that squeaked between the pads of O'Connor and in for his first collegiate tally at 2:34 of regulation before Matt Grzelcyk evened things up with 16 seconds left in the period
The Terriers capitalized on a turnover midway through the second after Matt Ronan poked the puck loose, allowing Robbie Baillargeon to set up Tommy Kelley at 9:08 for the go-ahead goal, but Merrimack responded in the third for its second come-from-behind win of the year.
Tirronen finished the night with 17 saves, while O'Connor turned away 27 for the visitors.
Merrimack will aim for its first-ever weekend sweep of Boston University tomorrow night, when the Warriors conclude the weekend home-and-home series at Agganis Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.