BURLINGTON, Vt. — Pete Summerfelt’s power-play goal through a screen snapped a 3-3 tie midway through the third period and sent Dartmouth to a 4-3 win in the first round of the Sheraton/Howard Bank Classic Friday.
The game marked the return of head coach Chris Serino to the Merrimack bench. Serino was diagnosed with throat cancer in late August and turned over the reins to associate head coach Mike Doneghey in early November. It was Serino’s first game behind the bench since a 4-0 Merrimack loss to Boston University on Oct. 28.
Jamie Herrington and Mike Maturo each recorded a goal and an assist for the Big Green (6-4-1), with Herrington’s goal tying the game at 3-3 late in the second.
Dartmouth scored two power-play goals on five chances and held Merrimack to one man advantage goal out of eight tries. Darren Gastrock posted his second career win with 30 saves, having also beaten Merrimack on Dec. 15, 3-2.
Merrimack (6-11-0) was led by Nick Parillo and Anthony Aquino with a goal and an assist each, while Marco Rosa set up two scores. Merrimack had leads of 2-1 and 3-2 erased by the Big Green. Joe Exter stopped 36 shots in a losing cause.
Frank Nardella scored off a rebound 4:29 into the first to put Dartmouth on top, but the Warriors came back with goals by Aquino (off a feed from Parillo behind the net) and Greg Lauze (a power-play shot from the left point) to take a 2-1 lead midway through the period.
Maturo tied it for the Big Green five minutes later when he banged in the rebound of a Trevor Byrne shot on the power play.
Parillo regained Merrimack’s lead 9:00 into the second when he got the puck at center ice off a touch pass from Aquino, walked around a defender and beat Gastrock over the goaltender’s right shoulder.
But with 2:35 left in the period, Herrington followed up his own rebound during a scramble to Exter’s right to knot the score at 3-3, setting the stage for Summerfelt’s winner in the third.
Merrimack pulled Exter for a sixth attacker in the final :30, but Gastrock preserved the win with a save off Aquino in the closing seconds.
Dartmouth takes on Lake Superior on the second day of the tournament at 4:00, while Merrimack faces host Vermont at 7:00. Pairings are predetermined.