NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Sophomore forward Brian Christie registered two goals and an assist to lead Merrimack to Saturday night's 6-3 victory against Quinnipiac at Volpe Center.
For the second straight night, Merrimack posted the game's first goal, but unlike last night, where the Warriors showed little fight from the second period on, the Navy and Gold never let the reigning national runners-up take control on Saturday, untying the game with three straight goals in the third period before icing it with a late empty-net tally.
Christie was the star of the show, scoring a gritty goal early in the first to get the home side on the board before burying the Bobcats with a laser on a 2-on-1 rush and then adding an assist on a subsequent goal to round out one of his finest nights in a Merrimack uniform.
Merrimack raced out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of tallies in the first half of the opening frame before the Bobcats cut the deficit in half on a power-play strike with 39 seconds left in the first period.
Eerily similar to last night, Quinnipiac buried an early second-period goal, but thankfully for the Warriors, that would be it for the visitors - who had reeled off four goals in a span of 3:56 the night before - as both sides fought through a physical remainder of the middle stanza and entered the second intermission all even at 2-2.
Merrimack, however, would not let the weekend get away, setting the tone with three goals within a span of nine minutes to push ahead by three goals. Despite a late extra-attacker power-play marker for Quinnipiac, the Warriors assured themselves the last laugh with a late empty-netter to round out the scoring action.
Christie got the Warriors on the board at 2:32 while on the power play, as seniors Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, British Columbia) and Jordan Heywood (Regina, Saskatchewan) moved the puck along the blue line before the latter blasted a shot that hit the pipe, but Christie was waiting in front to push it home for the opening salvo.
Roughly eight minutes later, junior Justin Mansfield (Arlington, Mass.) potted a rebound on the right side of an open net after junior Connor Toomey (Billerica, Mass.) and Heywood set it up, but Sam Anas scored the Bobcats' first goal on the power play at 19:21 to cut the visitors' deficit to 2-1 at the end of the first.
Quinnipiac would draw even less than two minutes into the middle stanza, as Travis St. Dennis beat junior Rasmus Tirronen (Espoo, Finland) to tie the match at 2-2. Both sides would fight through a back-and-forth and physical second period, setting the stage for an action-packed final frame.
Just over 2:30 into the third period, sophomore Ben Bahe (Stillwater, Minn.) picked the pocket of a Quinnipiac skater and homed in on QU netminder Michael Garteig, who led the nation in goals-against average coming into the weekend. Bahe, however, took advantage of the 1-on-1 opportunity and scored on a partial breakaway to push the Warriors on top.
Two minutes later, another partial giveaway - forced in the Merrimack zone by freshman Jonathan Lashyn (Camrose, Alberta), sprung Christie and Toomey on a 2-on-1 rush down the length of the ice. Christie faked the pass attempt and beat Garteig at 4:52 to push the Warriors on top by two.
Four minutes later, while skating with a 5-on-3 advantage, senior Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) cashed in on a third-chance shot after Christie and Ellis set him up to boost the home side's edge to 5-2, and Quinnipiac would play catch-up from there on out.
Anas scored his second of the night with the Bobcats skating on a 6-on-4, extra-attacker power play in the waning two minutes of the game, but junior Dan Kolomatis (Basking Ridge, N.J.) made sure the Warriors walked out with the final goal of the game, picking off an errant pass and lofting it the length of the ice into an open net to cap off the night.