|2nd||12:19||NOE||1-0||PP||Zach Aston-Reese (13)||John Stevens/17, Torin Snydeman/9|
|2nd||16:32||MER||1-1||PP||Jace Hennig (12)||Marc Biega/9, Dan Kolomatis/14|
|OT2||15:42||MER||2-1||PP GW||Mathieu Tibbet (6)||Jace Hennig/7, Marc Biega/10|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Rasmus Tirronen (W, 12-12-3)||95:42||1||14||9||10||17||13||63|
|Clay Witt (L, 11-10-2)||95:37||2||4||11||9||11||12||47|
BOSTON - In the fifth longest game in Hockey East history, Mathieu Tibbet's power play goal ended it with 4:18 left in double overtime to send Merrimack (16-16-4) to a 2-1 victory over the Northeastern men's ice hockey (16-16-4) on Saturday night at Matthews Arena. Merrimack sweeps the first round series, 2-0, and advances to the quarterfinal round.
Rasmus Tirronen was the star of the night, making 63 saves for the Warriors, including 30 in the overtime periods alone. The Warriors ended it after 95:42 of game time when Tibbet's shot got under the pad of NU goaltender Clay Witt (47 saves), just crossing the goal line before the Huskies could rescue the puck.
Zach Aston-Reese scored the lone goal for the Huskies, who outshot MC 64-49 in the game and went 1-of-7 on the power play. Merrimack, meanwhile, was 2-of-4 on the man advantage and won 58-of-115 face-offs.
Northeastern carried the play for much of the opening frame, outshooting the Warriors 14-4 with three shots on its three first period power plays. Colton Saucerman got he chances started for NU early in the stanza when he whipped a shot on goal from just inside the blue line that Tirronen got a piece of to steer into the corner. Minutes later, Dustin Darou took a feed from Kevin Roy in the slot, and sent a wrist shot in on goal that Tirronen also saved.
Roy would get a scoring bid of his own with less than five minutes to play in the period when he took a feed from Dalen Hedges behind the net for a low shot that Tirronen gobbled up. At the other end, Witt held up his end of the bargain with four first period saves, including a pair on Ben Bahe on shots from in tight.
Play evened out in the second period as the Warriors outshot NU 12-9, with both teams converting on the man advantage. Early in the stanza, Witt kept the game scoreless when he kept his eye on a tip from Brian Christie at the tail end of a Merrimack power play. Nolan Stevens nearly gave the home team the edge near the midway mark of the period when he got body position on an MC defenseman before throwing a shot on net that Tirronen muscled away.
Northeastern struck on the power play with 7:41 to go in the frame with a power play marker from Aston-Reese, his 13th goal of the year. Mike Szmatula began the play with a rush up ice before sending the puck into traffic in the crease. Both squads battled for space in front of the cage, and Aston-Reese banged home a rebound off a shot from John Stevens to give NU a 1-0 lead.
Merrimack responded four minutes later, however, as Jace Hennig potted a power play tally of his own, depositing a rebound from Marc Biega past a sprawling Witt for Hennig's 12th of the season.
The teams continued to trade chances throughout the third period, with the goaltenders combining to make 19 saves (Tirronen 10, Witt 9) in the final 20 minutes of regulation.Jarrett Fennell and Saucerman both had a chance to give NU the lead in the final eight minutes of the third with a pair of shots from just inside the point.
Witt, meanwhile, stopped all nine shots he faced in the third, including two on the power play in the first six minutes of the period.
Tirronen and Witt continued to steal the show in overtime with another 28 stops (Tirronen 17, Witt 11). The game nearly ended early in the extra session when bedlam ensued in front of the Northeastern cage, but somehow Witt was able to cover the loose puck with bodies flying through the crease.
The Huskies were awarded two power plays during the first overtime, one on an interference minor on Quinn Gould before a too many men on the ice call three minutes later, but Tirronen stood his ground to make five saves during the penalty kills.
Witt, however made the save of the night in the final moments of overtime during a two-on-one Merrimack rush, speeding across from post to post to glove down a Mathieu Tibbet tip bid to send the teams back to their locker rooms deadlocked.
Shots continued to fly into the second overtime, with 13 attempts per squad until the game-winner. Witt kept the game going in the first five minutes when he aggressively cut down the angle on Aaron Titcomb during an odd-man rush down the left hand side before NU had a bid of its own when Dylan Sikura found Garret Cockerill at the right dot for a shot that caught the mask of Tirronen.
The back and forth action persisted until the Huskies were called for goaltender interference with 5:07 left in the period, and that's when Tibbet ended it for the Warriors, sneaking a shot under the pad of Witt before Aston-Reese could scoop it out of harm's way. The goal was reviewed, and stood as called to send the Warriors into the quarterfinal round.