No. 18 Mass Attack Falls At Merrimack, 4-1
Feb. 19, 2010
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - Joe Cucci netted his first career hat trick on Friday night to lead Merrimack past No. 18 UMass Hockey, 4-1 at Lawler Arena. James Marcou netted the lone goal for the Minutemen (16-14-0, 11-12-0 HEA), while Paul Dainton made 23 saves in goal. Joe Cannata got the start between the pipes for the Warriors (12-15-1, 9-11-1 HEA), making 21 stops. The two teams will square off in the series finale tomorrow night at the Mullins Center, where the Mass Attack will honor its five seniors prior to gametime. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 PM and will be televised on NESN.
Merrimack outshot Massachusetts 27-22 for the game, and improves to 11-2-0 at home this season. The Minutemen were 1-for-5 on the power play while the Warriors were 2-for-3 on the man advantage.
The Minutemen found themselves in a two-goal hole following the first period on two Merrimack power play goals despite holding a 10-6 edge in shots. The first came four minutes into the frame when Cucci netted his fourth goal of the season off a loose puck. With the Warriors controlling the puck at the point, Karl Stollery fired a shot towards goal that was blocked by Martin Nolet. The puck took a Merrimack bounce off Nolet's glove and onto the stick of Cucci, who finished the play before Dainton could regain position.
UMass was sent to the penalty box for the second time midway through the period, and once again the Warriors capitalized on the man advantage, this time on a goal from Jeff Velleca. Fraser Allen held the puck at the blue line before spotting Velleca near the right faceoff dot. Allen sent the puck down to Velleca, who sent a low shot on goal that caught a piece of a Minuteman stick and fluttered over Dainton for Velleca's seventh goal of the season.
The Warriors made it 3-0 in the opening minutes of the second period on Cucci's second of the night, but UMass battled back to get on the scoreboard with eight minutes to play in the stanza to bring it back to two. Off a botched dump by the Minutemen in the first three minutes of the period, Merrimack went in on a two-on-one with Cucci carrying the puck. The junior forward elected to hold onto the puck, deeking Dainton before wristing a shot past him.
Massachusetts went on its second five-on-three power play of the night with eight minutes remaining in the frame, and the Minutemen were finally able to cash in on Marcou's tenth goal of the season. Will Ortiz held the puck in the corner before setting up Matt Irwin at the point, but his bomb went just wide. Marcou, however, gathered the rebound and lofted it over Cannata for the score.
UMass pressured during the third period in searching of the tying goal, but could not find a way to get the puck past Cannata. A Warrior goal with 6:55 left in regulation, however, put the game out of reach. T.J. Syner was sent in on a shorthanded breakaway in the first six minutes of the frame but was hauled down by Pat Bowen, who was whistled for holding to negate the Merrimack power play.
Cucci completed the hat trick with under seven minutes to play when he buried a loose puck past Dainton with a Warrior forward stationed inside the net; the goal was not reviewed despite requests from the Minutemen.