College Hockey:
Radja Leads UNH Past Merrimack

— Mike Radja had a goal and had an assist for New Hampshire Friday night as the Wildcats went on to defeat Merrimack by a final score of 3-1.

The first goal of the night wouldn’t be scored until late in the first period. Merrimack’s Ryan Sullivan got a two-minute hooking penalty at 14:37 of the period to give UNH the man-advantage, and Radja took the initial shot off a Jamie Fritsch pass. The shot was redirected by Brett Hemingway, who got credit for his 10th goal of the year.

The first period ended with UNH up 1-0, although shots on net were even at eight apiece.

The second period featured two goals, one from each team. The first goal of the period was a Merrimack tally which tied the game. Assistant captain Matt Byrnes made a pass to a wide-open Derek Pallardy, who capitalized to put it past Wildcat net minder Kevin Regan.

Just 14 seconds later Trevor Smith scored the game winner. The original shot by Matt Fornataro was left sitting on the goal line, and a flurry of Merrimack players tried to clear the puck, but Smith got a piece of it for his 16th goal of the season. Linemates Jerry Pollastrone and Fornataro got credited with assists on the goal.

The final period had a UNH goal scored early on to seal the win. The Wildcats were able to score their second power-play goal of the night when Merrimack’s Chris Kane was called for cross checking. Radja would pick up a Chris Murray pass at the blue line and skate in to score on Jim Healey.

The goal for Radja was his 16th of the season.

“We did what we had to do … obviously, we started off a little slow but that’s how they were going to play us. But they played a very passive game and we finally got a goal and got the puck moving,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile.

Merrimack had two power plays in the final period but was unable to score. At the 17:30 mark UNH’s Chris Murray received a charging call so Merrimack was a man up. On top of that, the Warriors pulled Healey for the remainder of the game up until the final two ticks of the clock but were unable to make a comeback.

“We had our chances for sure. The goals that were scored were more breakdowns on our part more than anything,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy.

Healey ended the night with 27 saves for the Warriors. Regan had 23 for New Hampshire.

The two teams face off Saturday night to end the season series at Merrimack. Game time is 7 p.m.

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