#20 Merrimack Tops UMass Hockey, 4-2
Feb. 10, 2013
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Despite a season-high 37 saves by sophomore goaltender Kevin Boyle, the UMass hockey team dropped a 4-2 decision on the road at #20 Merrimack on Sunday in its lone game of the weekend. Following the setback, the Minutemen are 10-13-2 overall, 7-10-1 in Hockey East, while the Warriors improve to 13-10-5 overall and 11-6-2 in conference play.
Junior Branden Gracel extended his goal scoring streak to three with his team-leading 13th of the year, his first career short-hander. As a team, UMass now has six shorthanded goals on the season, the most for the program since the 2003-04 season when the squad tallied seven shorthanders. Linemate Michael Pereira's assist increased his total to six points over the past three games.
With the opening period winding down, Merrimack struck with the first goal of the contest coming at 16:35. Justin Mansfield stuffed in a rebound from Shawn Bates and Clayton Jardine for his third goal of the season.
However, despite being outshot 18-3 in the frame, UMass pulled level with the Warriors in the final seconds of the period amidst killing off a five-minute major. With 14 ticks remaining in the stanza, Pereira advanced the puck to Gracel who tapped it around a Warriors' defenseman and beat netminder Sam Marotta one-on-one with a deke to even the score at 1-1.
Riding the momentum from their first tally and successful kill of four first period penalties, the Minutemen pulled in front, 2-1, midway through the second. Sophomore Zack LaRue dropped the puck off for senior Eddie Olczyk's quick wrister from the left faceoff circle at 7:46.
Merrimack answered quickly, though. Just 29 seconds later, Mike Collins and Brian Christie set up Quinn Gould's fifth of the season.
The Warriors later came up with the game-winning tally with 5:47 left in regulation. Bates fed Josh Meyers on the rush for a shot over Boyle's shoulder into the top of the net. Collins then capped off the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:14.
Merrimack finished with a 41-18 shot advantage on the night and won 40 of 70 faceoffs. UMass was 0-for-3 on the power play on the afternoon while going 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
The Minutemen will be back in action next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16, with a home-and-home against #16 UMass-Lowell that begins with a 7:00 p.m. meeting with the River Hawks at the Mullins Center.
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