DURHAM, N.H. — Freshmen Danny Dries scored the game winning goal to propel No. 2 UNH past Merrimack College 2-1 on Friday night at the Whittemore Center.
The win extended the Wildcats current unbeaten streak to nine games. Craig Switzer had a goal and an assist. Merrimack’s Andrew Braithwaite had 37 saves on the night, including eighteen in the third.
The Wildcats got on the board in the first period at 12:16. Defenseman Craig Switzer scored his sixth goal of the year off a wrist shot in front of the net.
Merrimack tied the game at 13:58. Matt Jones scored his team-leading 15th goal of the year off a rebound from a Francois Ouimet shot.
New Hampshire had the opportunity to break the tie when they had a two-man advantage at the end of the second period. At the start of the game, the Warriors were boasting a 23-game perfect penalty kill. They killed off the two-man advantage to keep the game tied going into the third period.
In the final period, the Wildcats had their best opportunity to take the lead when Mike Radja had a breakaway chance on the shorthand midway in the third. The net came off the moorings before a Matt Fornataro shot found the back of the net. That resulted in a delay of game penalty on Merrimack.
New Hampshire scored on the man advantage, breaking the tie game and snapping Merrimacks 29 straight penalty kills. Dries redirected Radja’s original shot from the right post.
“I told the team in the middle of the game, ‘This is playoff hockey, this is how it’s going to be,’” said UNH coach Dick Unile. “Teams are going to play you smart and obviously I give credit to Merrimack. They played a smart game and they didn’t give us a chance to open it up. They sat back and transitioned to create turnovers and they did a good job, but we came out in the third period with the game tied and played a good third period and found a way to win the game.”
“It always stings when you play well and come away with nothing,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “I don’t think you’d look at it like a wasted opportunity because you know how hard those guys worked. I’m not blowing smoke at these kids, but you’ve got to understand they put themselves at a chance to win against the No. 2 team in the country at home. What we need to do is go back and look at the mistakes we’ve made and figure out how to eliminate those and end up on the right side of the ledger next time. I’m a firm believer that if you do that enough times, you eventually learn how to do that and that’s what we’re still in the process of doing with our program.”
The two teams face off again tomorrow night at Lawler Arena in North Andover.