BOSTON — The Northeastern Huskies edged out the Merrimack Warriors in a 2-1 battle at Matthews Arena in front of a crowd of 2,921 on Saturday night, putting an end to a three-game losing streak. The Huskies returned to the seven-slot in the Hockey East standings while the Warriors dropped back to eight.
“I thought we treated this game like a must-win game after last night,” said Huskies’ netminder Bryan Mountain. “I thought we showed a lot of character out here and sticking to our system, which usually always gives us success. Toward the end of the game and not sitting back when we got up 2-1, I thought we kept to the system, and I thought that was the biggest key to the game to our win.”
Both teams got off to a very physical start, with Merrimack racking up three penalties, and the Huskies right behind with two. Despite being handed numerous power plays, neither team was able to capitalize and put points on the board in the first period.
Not wanting to let the Warriors to repeat last night’s game, the Huskies scored first five minutes into the second period. At full strength, Wade MacLeod met Garrett Vermeersch in front of the Merrimack net. After MacLeod barely missed, Vermeersch rebounded, and as he was mid-fall, Vermeersch sent a short shot from his knees past Joe Cannata to put the Huskies up 1-0.
With less than a minute to go in the period, NU’s Tyler McNeely was sent to the penalty box after Jesse Todd left the ice with a bloody nose thanks to McNeely’s elbow. With 10 seconds to go in the period, Joe Cucci and Stephane DaCosta set up a beautiful shot for Karl Stollery, who sent a rocket from the blue line past Mountain to tie the game.
A little over six minutes into the third period, the Huskies scored the go-ahead goal on a shot from blueliner David Strathman between the circles. Strathman grabbed his second goal of the season, while Justin Daniels and Matt Lipinski put up the assists.
With less than three minutes to go in the game, the Warriors had their chance to tie the game when Steve Silva sat out for two minutes on a slashing call. They then pulled Cannata with 40 seconds left, but were unable to get the equalizer.
Despite the score and outshooting the Huskies 25-17, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy felt his squad outperformed their winning performance from last night.
“I wouldn’t say they pulled away,” said Dennehy. “They scored the winning goal. I thought we played better tonight than we did last night, but that’s the nature of this league. Just because we worked hard, doesn’t necessarily mean we deserved it. They worked hard last night and worked hard again tonight and they ended up on the right side of the ledger. I told our guys that if we play like that consistently enough, we’re going to have plenty of success.”
Mountain earned his first collegiate win after his second start with 24 saves. With the regular starter Chris Rawlings out with a minor injury, Mountain had some big shoes to fill, and managed to come up big for his team.
“I think he did an awesome job,” said NU coach Greg Cronin. “In sports, there’s a unique opportunity to find character in people. Here’s a guy that hadn’t played all year and he comes and he gets his chance. I thought he played well last night and was terrific tonight, particularly down at the end.”
Both the Huskies and Warriors will spend the next few weeks on the road. Merrimack travels west to take on Massachusetts while the Huskies head north to match up against Maine. Both of the games are set for Saturday December 12th at 7 p.m.