|1st||15:37||MER||1-0||EV||Chris LeBlanc (5)||Justin Mansfield/4, Vinny Scotti/5|
|2nd||13:42||MER||2-0||EV GW||Marc Biega (3)||Brian Christie/9|
|3rd||4:39||UML||1-2||EV||Adam Chapie (8)||Dylan Zink/10, Tyler Mueller/8|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|UMass Lowell (15-8-3)||0/6||2/4||0|
|UMass Lowell Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Kevin Boyle (L, 12-5-3)||57:21||2||5||6||4||15|
|Rasmus Tirronen (W, 10-4-2)||60:00||1||12||19||20||51|
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Senior goaltender Rasmus Tirronen (Espoo, Finland) stole the show with a career-high 51-save performance, leading the 19th-ranked Merrimack College men's ice hockey team to a 2-1 home win over rival and 10th-ranked UMass Lowell on Friday night at Lawler Rink.
After building itself a two-goal lead after 40 minutes, Merrimack withstood as one-sided of a barrage as it has seen in quite some time over the final 20 minutes, as UMass Lowell became the first team to record over 50 shots against the Warriors in two years after outshooting the hosts by a 21-4 margin in the third period.
Before then, though, sophomore Chris LeBlanc (Winthrop, Mass.) put the Warriors on top with a breakaway goal at 15:37 of the first, taking a feed from senior Justin Mansfield (Arlington, Mass.), who lacing up as a forward for the first time in nearly a year and coincidentally enough against UMass Lowell last Jan. 31. Junior Vinny Scotti (Vineland, N.J.) also assisted on the play.
The River Hawks controlled the pace of play and were dominating the territorial battle for the most part, but that didn't stop Merrimack from building a two-goal lead at 13:42 of the second; junior Brian Christie (West Chester, Pa.) intercepted a UMass Lowell centering feed in the defensive zone and tapped it laterally to freshman Marc Biega (Pointe-Claire, Quebec). He sprung Christie down the right wing, and the latter sent a shot on net that was initially saved. Biega, however, was quick to pounce on the rebound and forced it through to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead at the end of two periods.
With UMass Lowell already owning a 31-13 lead in shot attempts through 40 minutes, that advantage rapidly grew in the third, as the River Hawks ramped up the pressure in the final stanza.
Eventually, that led to an Adam Chapie goal at 4:39 of the third after the River Hawk forward redirected a one-timer by Dylan Zink, cutting the lead to 2-1 with plenty of time to play.
Tirronen, however, would let nothing pass the rest of the way. The senior netminder, who already posted a 40- and 41-save performance earlier this month at Minnesota against the Gophers and, appropriately enough, UMass Lowell, at the Mariucci Classic, turned away the next 20 saves he saw, while the defense came up with a season-high 17 blocks against a potent River Hawk offense that ranked in the top-10 nationally in scoring offense coming into the night.
With under three minutes left, Lowell went to its sixth power play of the night and pulled goaltender Kevin Boyle for a 6-on-4 advantage, but Merrimack's penalty kill - ranked fifth nationally coming into the game - didn't blink, using timely blocks and five more saves from Tirronen to steal the upset victory.
Inside The Numbers
- Tirronen improved 10-4-2 on the season thanks to his 51-save effort, while Boyle came up with 15 saves while falling to 12-5-3 on the year
- Lowell finished with an advantage in shot attempts in all three periods, including 12-6 in the first, 19-7 in the second and 21-4 in the third
- Merrimack prevented Lowell from scoring on the power play on all six tries, while the power play came up empty on two attempts
- Merrimack won 41-of-74 faceoffs, with sophomore Hampus Gustafsson (Ljungby, Sweden) leading all players with 17 faceoff wins
Notes and Notables
Merrimack surrendered more than 50 shots since being outshot by a 52-28 margin at then-fourth-ranked New Hampshire on Feb. 2, 2013, as part of a 4-1 road win ... Tonight marked the first time that Merrimack gave up more than 50 shots at home since surrendering 51 to then-14th-ranked Providence in a 1-1 draw on Feb. 2, 2009.
Merrimack and Lowell conclude the weekend series tomorrow night at the Tsongas Center, with puck drop set for 7 p.m.