UMass Hockey Secures Playoff Bid With 4-2 Win Over Merrimack
March 8, 2008
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The UMass Hockey team secured the eighth-seed in the Hockey East Playoffs on Saturday evening defeating the Merrimack Warriors 4-2 at Lawler Arena. James Marcou led the Minutemen with three assists, while Paul Dainton made 30 saves in goal for the win. The Minutemen scored two goals in the third period to secure their sixth consecutive Hockey East Playoff appearance. UMass (14-14-6, 9-13-5 HEA) will travel to Durham, N.H. on Friday to face No. 1 seed New Hampshire in the best-of-three quarterfinals.
UMass received goals from four different scorers in the contest, including Mike Kostka's seventh power play goal of the season. The assistant captain of the Minutemen, David Leaderer, played in his 147th game of his career, which is a new school record.
The Minutemen took an early lead in the first period only to see the Warriors fight back with a goal of their own two minutes later. UMass responded late in the first with a goal from Alex Berry with 18.3 seconds left.
The Minutemen had multiple scoring chances throughout the first period, and scored twice to take the lead after the first 20 minutes. The Warriors scored once during the opening frame to go into the locker room down 2-1. Will Ortiz almost got the scoring started just 2:50 into the frame when he shot the puck from the right faceoff circle, but ringed off the post.
After matching penalties was called on both teams, Merrimack (12-18-4, 6-18-3 HEA) was assessed another penalty 18 seconds later which gave UMass its first power play of the evening. Just 31 seconds into the man-advantage, Marcou fed Kostka with a pass down low. Kostka one-timed the puck, which hit Merrimack goalie Andrew Brathwaite in the mask. Kostka gathered the rebound and poked the puck past Brathwaite for the 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Merrimack tied the score nearly two minutes after the Kostka goal. Matt Jones gloved the puck down in the neutral zone and fired a pass to Francois Ouimet. Ouimet flew into the UMass zone and shot the puck five-hole past Dainton.
The Minutemen retook the lead with under 20 seconds to play in the period when Berry got his sixth goal in his last seven games. Marcou carried the puck into the offensive zone and lifted the puck over a sprawling Warrior defenseman to Berry. Berry gathered the puck and tapped it home for the 2-1 lead.
The Warriors outshot the Minutemen 9-6 in the second period, and scored the lone goal of the stanza to tie the game at two. The UMass defense limited the Merrimack chances early in the period by blocking shots and forcing the Warrior forwards to the sides of the rink.
Merrimack nearly tied the score eight minutes into the frame when a Warrior forward fired a low shot on Dainton. But the freshman netminder flashed his left pad to make the save. Merrimack would not be denied, however, as Joe Cucci scored his third goal of the season when he fired the puck from the middle to the ice that beat Dainton glove side.
The Minutemen had a couple chances to retake the lead late in the second frame. When UMass was on a three-on-two, Jordan Virtue fed Ortiz at the top of the faceoff dot. Ortiz rifled a shot that just went over the net. As the period came to a close, P.J. Fenton and Berry went in two-on-one. The Merrimack defender played the pass, forcing Fenton to shoot. The shot hit Brathwaite in the chest and he swallowed the rebound.
Merrimack had their chances in the third period, but two quick goals by UMass put the game out of reach. UMass had some chances to take the lead early in the period, but could not capitalize on their opportunities. Chris Davis intercepted a pass at the blueline and skated in on Brathwaite. Davis let a wrist shot go that hit Brathwaite blocker side. The Minutemen had another chance when Kostka fired a shot from the right side. The rebound trickled to the other side of the net, where Marcou was waiting, but he could not settle the bouncing puck. The Warriors started to pressure Dainton and the UMass defense near the midway mark of the period, but Dainton made two huge saves to keep the game tied.
UMass took the lead with 7:43 to play in regulation when the Warriors failed to clear the puck. Quirk gathered the puck near the left faceoff dot and fired a turn around shot that beat Brathwaite to the left. The Minutemen added an insurance marker on a delayed penalty on Merrimack. Dainton sprinted to the bench to give UMass an extra attacker. Virtue hopped the boards and skated into the Merrimack zone. Ortiz fed Virtue with a pass, who one timed the puck past Brathwaite.
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