After snatching victory from the jaws of defeat on the road at Northeastern, the No. 12 Merrimack Warriors returned home for their first meeting of the season against the Massachusetts Minutemen.
The powder keg that was Merrimack’s offense exploded furiously for 11 goals with 11 players with multi-point games for an 11-2 decisive victory over the Minutemen.
Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said, “This was another one of those nights where the puck was just going in and other nights that’s not always going to be the case.”
After the first couple of minutes, the Warriors were able to set up offensively and get chances on senior goaltender Paul Dainton.
The Warriors got on the board first with defenseman Fraser Allan skating to the left dot and blasting a shot high-glove side past Dainton for his first of the season.
UMass got their scoring opportunities in the first period, using their great speed to at times effectively out-skate Merrimack and get odd-man rushes into the attacking zone.
UMass however, was not able to completely execute, as a great pass to Hanley right in front of the goal did not connect along with Rocco Carzo on a similar opportunity. Other times, the Warriors won the battles along the boards and cleared the puck.
UMass finally cashed in on a four-on-four, using their great speed to get into the zone and get pucks down low on Joe Cannata for second and third chances. Danny Hobbs tied the game, shoving the puck over the goal line.
Merrimack quickly regained the lead after a holding call to Hanley put UMass on the penalty kill. Defenseman Jordan Heywood did a good job keeping the puck in the zone and finding Brandon Brodhag, which led to him connecting with Chirs Barton, and then to Joe Cucci, who slammed the puck into the open side.
With only seconds left in the first period, Cucci won the offensive zone faceoff cleanly and the puck got to Brodhag in the slot and his slap-pass reached Barton, who finished with five points on the night, in front for the tip for a 3-1 lead.
Merrimack took a firm hold of the game in second period, scoring four goals in a span of 10 minutes.
Merrimack made the score 4-1 when Barton found Jeff Velleca finding his way into the slot and ripping a wrist shot top-shelf.
Increasing the lead 5-1, Ryan Flanigan zipped the puck in to Dainton, who left a rebound for Jesse Todd, who easily found the back of the net.
Dainton’s night ended when defenseman Adam Ross put a relatively soft wrister on net which slipped five-hole under Dainton for a 6-1 lead.
“Eleven is something that doesn’t happen too often,” said Ross, “We threw a lot of pucks at the net, and guys getting traffic in front were working hard, and we were able to capitalize.
A very frustrated Dainton commented, “This is the worst display of hockey that I’ve ever been a part of in my life. This is hands down the most embarrassing effort that our team as a whole put forward.”
With Jeff Teglia taking over in net, Stephane Da Costa got around a defender with a nice curl and drag move and launched a rocket just under the crossbar for a 7-1 lead.
With UMass refusing to go away quietly, the Minutemen got some extended pressure in the offense and Chase Langerrap tipped the puck past Cannata to slightly cut the deficit to 7-2.
Things got out of hand in third period with Merrimack scoring four more goals.
Todd was first, capitalizing on a point-blank chance. Flanigan followed up with a low wrist shot that hit a skate and deflected behind Teglia.
Finally, Brendan Ellis scored his first collegiate goal from the point, along with Barton, who followed up two minutes later.
UMass coach Don Cahoon was stunned after the game.
“We looked like we were playing a summer league game out there. There was no order to what we were doing in our own D-zone. It was a total disaster.”
Cannata was solid, stopping 19 of 21 shots before freshman Sam Marotta saw action for the rest of the game.
For the time being, Merrimack improves to third in Hockey East with a 17-5-4 overall record and 11-5-3 record in Hockey East, while UMass holds seventh place with a 6-15-4 overall record with a 5-10-4 record in Hockey East.