Merrimack's Marotta Stymies UNH
|UNH vs Merrimack at Whittemore Center (Photo: Mike Lowry)|
DURHAM, NH - Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other guy, in this case, goalie Sam Marotta of Merrimack College. Marotta faced a barrage of 52 UNH shots on goal of every variety - on breakaways, through screens, off posts - and only one got past him. To quote Coach Umile: "He played a very good game. He put himself in position. Some shots I believe he didn't even see, but he was in position to make the save."
With their 4-1 victory Saturday night, the Merrimack Warriors (Overall: 12-10-5; Hockey East: 10-6-2) have crept to within 1 point of UNH (Overall: 16-7-2; Hockey East: 11-6-1) in the Hockey East standings. UNH trails first place BC by 2 points but has one game in hand.
The Wildcats played with intensity from start to finish, often controlled the puck in the Merrimack zone, and generated many prime scoring opportunities. UNH held Merrimack to 24 shots on goal.
In their own end, UNH's team defense was largely effective in minimizing prime scoring opportunities. Merrimack's first three goals were the result of outstanding passes - one each by Shawn Bates (a skate pass to himself), Clayton Jardine (a touch pass), and Mike Collins (a cross-ice pass). Merrimack no longer plays a slow, plodding style and they have found a quality goalie to replace Joe Cannata.
The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings Starting Lineup: Dan Correale (LW) - Grayson Downing (C) - Austin Block (RW); Brett Kostolansky (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD); Casey DeSmith (Goalie)
Forward Lines: Speelman-Goumas-Henrion; Thrush-Camper-Willows; Sorkin-Pavelski-Silengo; Defensive Pairings: Knodel-Pesce; Agosta-Trevor van Riemsdyk.
~ The only change in the lineup from the previous night against Northeastern was on the fourth line. Juniors Nick Sorkin and Jeff Silengo replaced freshmen Collin MacDonald and Maxim Gaudrault.
UNH dominated the first 6 minutes of the game. On one flurry, TvR, Camper and Willows fired shots on Marotta in rapid succession.
The first Merrimack goal evolved out of a harmless play. The puck went around the dasher behind DeSmith into the corner on his right. Clayton Jardine, who was covered by Captain Connor Hardowa, sent a pass to Shane Bates in the center of the faceoff circle to the right of DeSmith.
The pass went into Bates' skates. Senior Alternate Captain Brett Kostolansky was well-positioned between Bates and DeSmith.
Bates smartly made a quick foot pass to his forehand and snapped a wrist shot. Kostolansky bent down to block the shot but it went between his legs.
DeSmith was screened by Kostolansky. DeSmith flashed his right pad but the puck deflected up over it and under DeSmith's armpit. MC 1, UNH 0.
2nd Period - 11:10. Merrimack Goal: Shawn Bates (5th of season).
Merrimack's second goal was a back-breaker because it came shortly after UNH appeared to tie the game on a breakaway by Dalton Speelman.
Kevin Goumas stole the puck in the Merrimack zone and head-manned the puck to John Henrion who was just crossing the redline. Henrion flipped a pass around a Merrimack defender and sent Speelman in alone.
Speelman lifted a wrister over Marotta's left shoulder. The puck initially hit the post near the intersection with the crossbar. It then richoted off the underside of cross bar.
UNH controlled the rebound and quickly fired 4 more shots but Marotta held on to the last one for a faceoff. The video of Speelman's possible goal was reviewed by the referee, but was ruled no goal.
Merrimack carried the puck into the UNH zone. Jardine threw the puck around the dasher to Josh Myers who was uncovered behind DeSmith - a very bad sign. This season, UNH has been particularly vulnerable to plays originating from behind their net.
Myers sent a centering pass back to Jardine just below the faceoff dot to the right of DeSmith. TvR was in position to block any shot so Jardine quickly passed it to Bates in the low slot.
Jay Camper was between Bates and DeSmith and attempted to reach out and block the shot but it got past him. The shot stayed low to the ice and beat DeSmith to his left. He did not drop down into the butterfly position. MC 2, UNH 0.
2nd Period - 7:08. UNH Goal: Jeff Silengo (2nd goal of the season). Assists: Scott Pavelski (3rd assist of season), Nick Sorkin (11th assist of season)
UNH's scoring sequence began when Sorkin was held along the backboards behind Marotta. The referee was ready to blow the penalty whistle but UNH maintained control. DeSmith raced to the bench and Goumas jumped on the ice as the extra attacker.
UNH had the Sorkin-Pavelski-Silengo line plus Goumas on the ice along with Justin Agosta and Brett Kostolansky.
Agosta made a sharp play keeping the puck in the zone and eluding a Merrimack forward near the blueline. He passed the puck to Kostolansky at the right point.
Kostolansky passed the puck down to Silengo along the halfwall. Silengo passed it down to Sorkin in the corner to the left of Marotta and then drifted to the front of the net.
Sorkin sent a pass back out to Pavelski who one-timed it from the top of the faceoff circle to the left of Marotta. Silengo deflected the shot over Marotta's glove. MC 2, UNH 1.
2nd Period - 3:58. Merrimack Goal: Vinny Scotti (4th of season).
Once again, Merrimack scored a deflating goal shortly after UNH had almost tied the game. After the Silengo goal, UNH went on their second power play of the game.
The Correale-Downing-Block line plus Hardowa and TvR controlled the puck in the MC end for nearly a minute. UNH's leading scorer Austin Block was parked immediately in front of Marotta when Hardowa sent a wrister on net from the left point.
Block banged away at the rebound and nearly beat Marotta with a backhand shot. Marotta managed to cover up the puck.
After the ensuing faceoff, UNH passed the puck around and worked it to TvR at the top of the faceoff circle to the right of Marotta. TvR sent a 3/4 slap shot toward the goal.
Meanwhile, Block was digging in the dirt at the top of the crease. As TvR's shot approached him, Block lifted his left skate off the ice to allow the puck to go on net.
Marotta, who was completely screened by Block, flashed his glove out to where he thought the puck might be and it ended up in his mitt.
UNH switched out its power play unit sending the Speelman-Goumas-Henrion line along with Hardowa and Knodel. Except for a brief clearing by Merrimack, that group maintained pressure in the MC zone.
Hardowa blasted a slap shot from just above the faceoff circle to the right of Marotta. He managed to flash his right leg pad out but the puck bounced right to Henrion at the bottom of the faceoff circle.
Henrion circled quickly returning to the faceoff dot a fired a wrister that was blocked by Justin Mansfield.
Henrion lost a foot race to the rebound near the halfwall and unleashed a two-handed, backhand slash at Ben Baye's chest. It would turn out to be a costly penalty.
On the ensuing Merrimack power play, Casey DeSmith made an unearthly save on Josh Myers. Myers was just in front of the crease and poked the puck at DeSmith.
DeSmith flopped on his back and squeezed the puck between his legs. It was his 11th save of the game and the best one of the night.
After the ensuing faceoff, Merrimack effectively passed the puck around the perimeter of UNH's penalty kill unit.
Christie, who was below the goal-line to DeSmith's left passed to Collins along the halfwall. Collins threaded a beautiful, cross-ice pass to Vinny Scotti at the faceoff dot to DeSmith's right.
DeSmith moved laterally and hesitated for a millisecond as the puck crossed the slot. He still managed to get over to the right post to stop Scotti's one-timer but it got past him, hit the post over his glove hand, and went in. MC 3, UNH 1.
UNH would launch another barrage of 20 shots at Marotta in the third period but he was up to the task.
Merrimack would score its 4th and final goal into an empty net at the 1:19 mark.
~ Senior leadership has been a key to UNH's success so far this season. All are playing with high energy and grit. Last night, Austin Block battled all over the ice, particularly around the Merrimack net.
~ UNH's leading goal scorer (11 goals so far) fired 7 shots on Marotta, most from in close.
#2 Star - Kevin Goumas
~ In his junior season, Kevin Goumas has become one of the most exciting players in college hockey. His speed and puck-handling make him an elusive target everywhere on the ice.
~ Goumas fired 6 shots on goal against Merrimack and at least 3 of them were Grade A.
#3 Star - Dalton Speelman
~ On Speelman's breakaway in the second period, he missed scoring a tying goal by millimeters. The pass that sent Speelman in alone almost went beyond his reach but he extended himself and gathered the puck in time to make a great wrist shot.
~ The scoresheet shows 1 shot on goal for Speelman but in the last minute of the second period, he nearly scored three more times.
~ Speelman tipped a shot from the point that just went wide and he banged at a rebound off a blast by Eric Knodel.
~ With 16 seconds left in the 2nd, Knodel sent Speelman away on another breakaway. As he approached Marotta, he was dragged down from behind. A penalty could easily have been called.