POTSDAM, N.Y. - The Merrimack College men's ice hockey team roared back from an early two-goal deficit, but host and No. 11 Clarkson University came out firing in the final period before eventually tallying the game-winner, as the Warriors were edged, 3-2 in the opening round of a weekend home-and-home series on Friday night at Cheel Arena.
After falling behind by two goals late in the first, Merrimack used a late first-period tally and an early second-period marker to draw even with the host Golden Knights. The visitors dominated large stretches of the second but could not push the elusive go-ahead goal on the board.
Thankful for that fact, Clarkson came out on fire to start the third period before Jeff DiNallo eventually punched in a rebound for the game-winner at 7:42, and the Warriors would be kept in check the rest of the way to remain winless on the road in 2013-14.
Despite controlling the bulk of play in the opening 15 minutes, Merrimack allowed the hosts to score during a delayed penalty after Jarrett Burton skated behind the Warrior defense and beat junior netminder Rasmus Tirronen (Espoo, Finland) 1-on-1 for the opening tally. Then, while on the ensuing power play and just 24 seconds later, Paul Geiger doubled the Knights' lead on a shot from the point, increasing Clarkson's lead to a 2-0 margin with just over four minutes left.
The Warriors, however, capitalized on their own power-play chance in the waning minutes of the first; after Kevin Tansey was booked at 18:28, Merrimack went a man up and cycled in the offensive zone with the clock winding down. Senior Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) nearly scored after maneuvering through the slot but eventually was able to set up sophomore Brian Christie (West Chester, Pa.), who snuck in his second goal of the season on an odd-angle shot from the goal line to bring the Warriors to within one (2-1) at the end of 20 minutes.
Merrimack would have been wise to keep that late-period momentum rolling into the start of the second stanza, and the Navy and Gold did just that. An early tripping penalty against Troy Josephs put the Warriors back on the power play, which set the tone early and often as Merrimack nearly capitalized on the man advantage.
Moments after the expiration of the penalty, however, was when the visitors struck; junior Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, Colo.) won a battle on the right half wall and maneuvered down into the corner and darted down the goal line toward the net. The Colorado native barreled his way in front of the crease and beat Clarkson goaltender Ville Runola to tie the match at 2-all at 4:14 of the middle frame.
Despite dominating the rest of the period and holding a 19-9 edge in shot attempts after 40 minutes, both sides entered second intermission all knotted up at two goals apiece.
But as much of an advantage as Merrimack held in scoring opportunities through two periods was as lopsided as the third period was for Clarkson, as the Knights dominated the final frame with a 10-3 advantage in shots on target. That eventually paved the way for the game-winner near the midpoint of the stanza with the Knights throwing heavy pressure at Tirronen in the Merrimack zone before DiNallo capitalized for the final - and decisive - goal of the night.