NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Merrimack held the nations best power-play unit to just two goals in nine attempts and beat the Maine Black Bears, 6-3, on Friday. Chris Barton had two goals while Stephane Da Costa added a goal and three assists to lead the games scoring.
Power-play goals dont come easy this time of year, Maine head coach Tim Whitehead said. Other teams get to know your power play.
The Black Bears still scored a pair of power-play goals, but Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy was pleased with the special teams effort. Maine was held to 14 shots on the nine power-play chances.
It was his clubs ability to bounce back that impressed Dennehy most.
We have some very resilient and intelligent players in our locker room, Dennehy said. Our senior class has been through a lot [of tough times].
After falling behind 1-0, Merrimack never trailed again en route to two different three goal swings.
We were not giving up tonight, said Bobby Kramer, who scored the game winner.
At 13:32 of the first period, Tanner House scored the first special teams goal of the night. A pair of consecutive tripping penalties (the first by Karl Stollery, the second by Chris Barton) put Maine in a 5-on-3 situation for potentially a minute and a half.
House flipped the puck over Joe Cannatas left shoulder after a saucer pass from Brian Flynn to make it 1-0 Black Bears. Flynns assist extended his point streak to three games and 11 of the last 12. In that time, he has 18 points, including 10 goals.
Two minutes later, the Warriors had an answer for the only shot of Maines first power play. Da Costa crossed the puck to Barton, who was waiting for it in the left faceoff circle. His one-timer beat Scott Darling and tied the game.
The second period came and went without any action other the scoreboard other than penalties. The third period accounted for seven of the games nine goals.
Barton got his second goal of the game just 0:14 into the period. Justin Bonitatibus lifted a wobbling puck over Darling to the other side of the crease, and Barton deposited it past the confused goalie for a 2-1 Warrior lead.
After another two minutes, the Warriors struck again. Kyle Bigos grabbed the puck at the Warriors blue line, took it all the way down ice and beat Darling with a wrist shot.
Bigos said that playing a physical team like Maine upped his aggressiveness.
Theres a lot more intensity in those games, Bigos said.
David deKastrozza scored the final power play goal of the night to cut the Merrimack deficit in half. The Black Bears used that specific opportunity well with a barrage of shots on Cannata. Josh Van Dyks shot went off of Cannatas leg pad over to deKastrozza, who chipped it in over Cannatas head.
Cannata saved 34 shots, including 19 in the third period alone.
Forty-one seconds later, Maine tied it up with Jeff Dimmens 11th goal of the year. Gustav Nyquist softly crossed it to Dimmen, who redirected the puck toward the far post just out of reach of Cannata.
The game-winning goal came forty-three second after Maine deadlocked it. Kramer scored his first goal of the season in his 11th game, but third in the last five.
Ryan Flanigan pitched in with his first assist of the season on a 4-on-2. Kramers one-timer was the first goal of another three goal stretch for the Warriors in front of the pomp-pom laden crowd on hand.
Da Costa found the net with an insurance goal after weaving through the Black Bears defense, faking out Darling in the process.
Fraser Allan ended the night in style with his first goal of the season at 13:23. Allan was waiting for a slap shot chance, and he got it after a pass from Da Costa. The goal ended Darlings night in net. He was pulled in favor of Dave Wilson, who finished the game with one save.
Darling made 24 saves on 30 shots before he came out.
The win tied the season series at one game apiece, with each home team winning by multiple goals.
The teams will return to Lawler Arena on Saturday for the season series finale.
It will be Maines final regular season game away from Alfond Arena. Next weekend, the Black Bears play a pair of games against the UMass Minutemen.
With the win on Friday, Merrimack moved into 7th place in the Hockey East standings, but just one point out of a tie for 4th. Maine is currently in 3rd place.
The Warriors will travel to Providence for a home-and-home series starting Friday.