Merrimack Downs UNH in Overtime Thriller, Forces Game Three Sunday Night
NORTH ANDOVER, MA - UNH came into the night with a chance to sweep the series against Merrimack and move on to the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Tournament, but the Warriors had other ideas.
At 4:36 of the first period, Derek Petti started the scoring for the Warriors. After a flurry of shots on UNH goalie Danny Tirone, he was able to find the back of the net to make it 1-0 Merrimack. UNH allowed 11 shots in the first 4:35 of the game and looked flat footed out of the gates.
At 14:16 UNH’s Tyler Kelleher stepped into the offensive zone and brought the puck along the wing. Kelleher fired a shot from a bad angle toward Merrimack goaltender Drew Vogler. The puck caromed off Vogler's left skate and into the net to tie the game 1-1.
Just minutes later on the power play, Matias Cleland rocketed a shot off the post and in at 16:49 of the first. UNH took a 2-1 lead. Here's a rinkside video of Cleland's goal courtesy of Mike Lowry:
Despite being outplayed the entire period, quite possibly the worst period of the season for the Wildcats, they somehow ended up with the lead after one period of play.
A scoreless second period was highly contested between the two teams. Merrimack narrowly outshot UNH 9-7 and the teams headed to the third period with the Wildcats still up 2-1.
At 7:59 of the third period, Ben Bahe scored his team leading eleventh goal of the season for Merrimack. He pulled the puck off the half wall, muscled his way through a Kyle Smith stick check, and wristed a shot past Tirone to tie the game 2-2. Again, Merrimack took over control of the game for a large majority of the third period, out-shooting UNH 16-6 in the process.
As the game moved into overtime, UNH Alternate Captain Maxim Gaudreault committed a hooking penalty in the offensive zone and sent UNH to the penalty kill for the second time in the overtime frame. Merrimack would need no more than a second chance with the man advantage.
During the penalty kill, UNH’s Andrew Poturalski attempted to clear the puck by sprawling on the ice to push it past the blue line and lost his stick in the process. This created a defacto 5-on-3 opportunity for the Warriors. Ludvig Larsson tucked the puck into the back of the net at 12:02 of the overtime period and sent Lawler Rink into a frenzy.
Here are the video highlights of the Merrimack victory courtesy of Pack Network:
Game Three will be played Sunday night at 7:00 PM in North Andover to decide which team moves on to the Hockey East Quarterfinals.