N. ANDOVER, Mass. — The Merrimack Warriors scored two power play goals in the first period and beat the University of Connecticut 4-1 on Sunday afternoon. Chris Barton got his sixth goal of the season, and the Warriors moved to 4-0 at home for the first time in their Hockey East existence.
We want to make [Lawler Arena] a place where other teams dont want to come to, Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. Our guys love playing here.
Merrimack is 19-for-20 on the penalty kill at home, and 8-for-26 on the power play.
The Warriors set up well on their first power play of the night, but the scoreboard showed no evidence of it. A couple nice plays by UConns defense broke up the first few opportunities.
On its second power play, Merrimack capitalized quickly. Matt Turner hooked Jesse Todd and was banished to the box after the halfway mark of the first period.
Barton won the ensuing faceoff and passed to Karl Stollery. Stollery found Todd standing on the other side of goalie Jeff Larson, and Todd punched it in for the teams seventh power play goal of the year.
Merrimack didnt wait much longer to score its second goal, also coming on the man advantage. Merrimack was the beneficiary of another power play about thirty seconds after the goal on an obstruction interference call.
With the puck in their offensive zone, the Warriors once again won the faceoff. Pat Bowen notched his first goal and seventh point of the season after receiving a pass across the net from Stephane Da Costa to give Merrimack a 2-0 lead.
In the second period, the Warriors got another goal with the Huskies one man down. This time, it came in 4-on-4 play.
Stollery recorded his second assist of the night (and fourth of the season) with a great pass across the red line to a wide open Barton. One nice move later, Barton had Larson fooled and sent the puck over his right shoulder.
UConn cut the deficit to two goals a few minutes later on a power play of their own. The Huskies filled the slot with players, drawing a few defenders in as well. Alex Gerke passed back to Justin Hernandez, who was standing at the edge of the circle. His slap shot beat Andrew Braithwaite and made it 3-1 Merrimack.
For the second game in a row, the Warriors finished the scoring with an empty net goal. Elliott Sheen added to the lead from just inside the blue line, and made it 4-1 with less than a minute to go in the third period.
Co-Captain Bowen said the teams lines have gelled well together, and theyre able to maximize their strengths as a result. Three different forward lines were on the ice during a Merrimack goal.
One of the teams strengths this season has been the offensive output from Bowen, a defenseman. We have mobile guys on[defense], and that gives us more options, Bowen said. All three defensive lines had a hand in the games scoring.
Dennehy said his team had good focus in the first period, and closed the game out well in the third. The difference in those periods may have been the effort that Dennehy is familiar with.
We were able to stay with things, even with distractions, Andrew Braithwaite said. The scoreboard malfunctioned during the game with its worst problems coming in the second period.
Braithwaite ended the game with 23 saves, including one Dennehy was impressed with late in the third, which kept it a two goal game.
For a few minutes, we strayed away, but we were able to regain the momentum going into the third, said Braithwaite.
Dennehy was happy with the teams ability to put pucks in the net, bodies near the net, and his defensemen on attackers. When we do that, we can play with anybody, said Dennehy.
The Warriors have been able to play with anybody thats visited Lawler Arena so far, but theyll be on the road on Friday, Oct. 30. The Boston College Eagles will host Merrimack then, with both teams heading to North Andover for a Sunday, Nov. 1 matchup.