NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Behind a career game by left wing Ryan Kiley, the Merrimack Warriors cruised to a 12-2 exhibition victory over Ottawa on Sunday at the Volpe Complex.
Kiley registered five goals, two of the shorthanded variety, to pace the offense.
“We’ve got some guys who can put the puck in the net this year,” Merrimack coach Chris Serino said. “I think we’ve got some good balance and some good depth and that was apparent tonight.”
With this game not counting toward NCAA standings, Serino used the opportunity to look at all three goaltenders on his roster. Senior Tom Welby (seven saves) started the game and played the first period. Sophomore Joe Exter (seven games), who sat out last year and will not be eligible for the first two games of this season after coming from major junior, played the second period. Junior Jason Wolfe (four saves) played the third period.
Serino’s club seemed to get stronger as the game progressed, something that was a problem for last year’s squad.
“I think the thing I liked the most out there was that we came out flying in the second period,” said Serino, now in his third year with Warriors. “We didn’t let up at all and we kept going through the third — that’s a good sign.”
Merrimack struck early in the first period thanks to a little bit of luck.
Skating shorthanded, the Warriors cleared the puck the length of the ice, only to have a strange deflection in the corner bounce right onto the stick of Kiley. With Gee Gees goaltender Derek McKlusky still stuck in the corner, Kiley tapped it into the empty net.
Just 34 seconds later, the Warriors extended the lead. Nick Parillo’s deflection of a Stephen Moon shot landed right onto the blade of Anthony Aquino. The sophomore wristed a shot low on the ice that beat McKlusky inside the right post for the 2-0 lead.
Before the announcer could announce that goal, Merrimack opened a 3-0 lead. This time on the power play, Moon wristed a seeing-eye shot that passed through a massive screen in front of the net and into the top right corner, over McKlusky’s left shoulder.
After a barrage of penalties midway through the first, including a five-minute major and game misconduct to Merrimack’s Nick Parillo for checking from behind, the Gee Gees found themselves with a 5-on-3 power play and wasted no time capitalizing.
Richard Tapanja started the play, finding Hugo Giguere open at the right point. Giguere missed the net to the right-hand side, but the puck caromed to Sebastian Decaens camped out on the left post. He tapped it into the open net to close the lead to 3-1.
In the second period, Merrimack regained the three-goal lead early. Rookie Marco Rosa’s blast from the blue line hit McKlusky in the left shoulder, but then bounced in the air, behind McKlusky and into the net to make the score 4-1 at 1:34.
Less than four minutes later, the Warriors struck again when Kiley banged home the rebound of a Rob Mongeau shot. Kiley’s second of the night at 5:23 extended the Merrimack lead to 5-1.
Ottawa had solid chances to climb back into the game, but Exter kept them at bay, stopping Robert Rideout and Mario Turcotte on back-to-back breakaways midway through the second.
At 14:45, Ottawa finally did strike back, thanks to a little bit of luck.
Nicholas Brunet’s centering pass from behind the net deflected off of a Merrimack defender and then off Exter into the goal.
But Merrimack struck back right away when Kiley picked up a loose puck in the high slot and wristed it past McKlusky to complete the hat trick at 16:25.
Thirty-four seconds into the third, the Warriors struck again, this time on a 5-on-3 advantage. Nick Cammarata’s shot through traffic from the right point beat McKlusky cleanly to extend the lead to 7-2.
And just 94 seconds later, Kiley lit the lamp again, blasting a hard slapper along the ice, between McKlusky’s legs. That goal ended the night for the Ottawa goaltender, as he was replaced by backup goaltender Patrick Lavoie.
Kiley finished off his career night with a shorthanded tally at 7:25. This goal resembled his first — pure luck — as his centering pass on a shorthanded break deflected off Lavoie and into the net.
Goals by Joey Gray at 16:03, Marco Rosa at 17:05, and Jayson Philbin at 17:50 completed the scoring on the night.
The Warriors will record plenty of frequent flyer miles to open their season, Friday night in Anchorage, Alaska. Merrimack will face Michigan and Michigan State in the Johnson Nissan Classic. The Warriors open their home schedule on Oct. 20 and 21 against defending MAAC champion Connecticut.