LATE SHORE GOAL LIFTS MAINE PAST MERRIMACK, 3-2
Junior forward Connor Leen scores game-winning goal in final minute of regulation for Black Bears
ORONO, Maine -- Connor Leen (Chester, N.Y.) tipped a Devin Shore (Ajax, Ontario) shot past Merrimack goalie Rasmus Tirronen with 28 seconds remaining in regulation as the University of Maine men's ice hockey team downed Merrimack 3-2 on a snowy Saturday night in Orono, Maine. The Black Bears improve to 15-10-3 on the season with the win and 9-5-2 in Hockey East play. Merrimack dips to 7-18-3 overall, 2-12-2 on conference action.
Maine opened the scoring at 9:36 of the first period when Ben Hutton (Prescott, Ontario) redirected a Ryan Lomberg (Richmond Hill, Ontario) pass by Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta. For Hutton, it was his 11th goal of the season and seventh power play tally. Steven Swavely (Reading, Pa.) also assisted on the goal which gave the Black Bears a 1-0 lead.
For the second night in a row, Vinny Scotti tied the game for the Warriors. Hampus Gustafsson stole the puck from a Maine defender and passed to Scotti, who broke in alone on Maine goalie Martin Ouellette (St.-Hippolyte, Quebec). For Scotti, it was his sixth goal of the season.
Maine answered right back when Brian Morgan (Windham, N.H.) muscled the puck away from a Merrimack defender and fed Brice O'Connor (Londonderry, N.H.) in the face-off circle. O'Connor fired the puck into the back of the net just 26 seconds after the goal by Scotti to give Maine the lead once again.
Merrimack tied the game at 2-2 at 11:19 of the third period with a five-on-three goal. Mike Collins had his shot elude the Maine defense and beat Ouellette. Jordan Heywood and Scotti both assisted on the goal.
Merrimack appeared to have scored the go ahead goal, but the play was reviewed and the goal was called back.
The game remained tied at 2-2 until the heroics of the Black Bears in the final 30 seconds. Cam Brown (Natick, Mass.) got the puck to Shore who unleashed a shot. Leen got a stick on the shot and deflected it past Tirronen to give Maine the late 3-2 lead. For Leen, it was his fifth goal of the season.
Maine outshot Merrimack 31-25 in the game. Each team finished the game 1-for-6 on the man advantage.
Ouellette made 23 saves and improves to 14-10-3 on the season. Sam Marotta made 17 saves in goal for the Warriors in 35:49 before leaving the game. Tironnen made 11 saves in the final 23:52. He suffered the loss and falls to 6-11-3.
Maine returns to action on Friday, Feb. 21 when they travel to Northeastern to start a two-game series with the Huskies. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM.