NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The scoring did not start in this one until the first power-play opportunity in the last minute of the opening period. Mickey Rego was called for interference at 18:07 and Rob Ricci received two minutes in the box for cross checking a few seconds later.
The University of Massachusetts scored in the last 10 seconds of the first period during a 5-on-3 man advantage. They had the entire zone to work with and James Marcou found the right shooting lane then fired the puck into the top right corner of the goal. The puck hit the inside of the post and was counted as a goal. The tally was disputed for a little bit, but was finally ruled valid. This extra-attacker goal put the Minutemen up by one at the end of the first.
Merrimack’s penalty killing unit succeeded shortly thereafter–with Rob Ricci scoring a shorthanded goal in the process. Elliot Sheen managed to snag the puck after it snuck out of the zone on UMass. Sheen flew down the ice and sent the puck over to Ricci once he entered the zone. Ricci one timed the puck past Paul Dainton for the shorthanded goal and Merrimack’s first tally on the evening. This goal was scored at 12:49 and the game remained tied heading into the final frame.
The third period began with both teams having some good opportunities, but no solid executions. UMass executed to go back on top at 9:25 in final period. The even-strength goal was scored by T.J. Syner who put the puck on net at the right time to beat the goaltender.
Jesse Todd came up with a big goal very late in the third. Chris Barton took the initial pass, but Todd was there to one time it past Paul Dainton. This swift goal tied the score at two with about four minutes left in regulation.
The teams battled hard, but this game could not be finished within regulation. The game went into a five minute overtime period. Merrimack called a timeout with 59 seconds left in overtime to set up a play.
The freshman Karl Stollery got the puck out in front of the net and hit the twine for the power-play goal that sealed the game for the Warriors. This goal came 10 seconds into the power play. He was assisted by Joe Cucci and the goal came at 4:35 in overtime.
“It’s nice to be on the other end of a one goal game, Stollery said. There have been a lot of injuries on defense so I have had more opportunities to play. In Camrose, they really prepared me to make the step to the next level.”
Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said that, “I thought we played well. You are going to score on fifty percent of your five on threes. I think we should have gotten the puck out a couple of times, but we didn’t. Then they made a nice play down low. I think it was a pretty tight game that came down to special teams.”
These two teams will face off again tomorrow night at the Mullins Center out in Amherst, Mass.