NORTH ANDOVER, MA – Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) made 39 saves, five in overtime as #7 Merrimack achieved a three-point weekend, tying Maine 2-2 in front of 2,412 fans at Lawler Arena Saturday.
Merrimack (12-4-5, 8-3-3 HEA) will open its season series with the University of New Hampshire, hosting the Wildcats next Friday at 7 p.m. at Lawler Arena. Limited tickets remain and are for purchase at merrimackathletics.com or by calling the ticket office at 978-837-5324. Maine (10-8-3, 7-7-2 HEA) will host #4 BC for a pair of games next weekend in Orono.
In the overtime period, Cannata made a big stop on Stu Higgins with two minutes left, before Brian Flynn thought he won the game, knocking in a rebound with 27.8 seconds left. A video review confirmed the call on the ice of no goal because the official had blown the whistle before the puck went into the net.
Flynn gave the visitors the 1-0 lead on the power play at 10:59 of the first with his 12th goal of the season.
Merrimack was fortunate to trail by just one after 20 minutes as Maine outshot the Warriors 15-9, including 13-4 through 11 minutes, forcing Cannata to make numerous point-blank stops, including a great left pad stop on Adam Shemansky.
But the Warriors withstood the storm, and Elliott Sheen (Lethbridge, AB) evened the score with a brilliant unassisted tally at 12:19. Sheen knocked down a Maine clearing attempt in midair and beat Dan Sullivan with a wrist shot that went off both posts from outside the faceoff circle for his second of the season and first since October 22.
Just 3:44 later, Joey Diamond regained the lead for the visitors at 16:03. With two Warriors limited during a long shift after blocking shots, a wrister from Nick Pryor from the point was directed in front by Diamond to give Maine the one-goal lead after two periods.
The nation's top ranked power play was poised to extend the lead during a prolonged 4-on-3, but Cannata made three stops on one-timers from Spencer Abbott, and Diamond took an interference penalty, putting the Warriors on their first power play of the game.
Ten seconds into the man advantage, Jesse Todd (Calgary, AB) got his own rebound and beat Sullivan for his ninth of the year and third power play goal of the weekend, tying the game at 8:09 of the third. Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) and Karl Stollery (Camrose, AB) got the assists. For Stollery, he moved into a tie for third place in Merrimack's Division I history in scoring among defensemen with 77 career points, tying Darren Scoville and Claude Maillet.
The teams traded chances in the final 2:18 of the third, as Cannata stopped Kyle Beattie with his blocker, before Sullivan stopped Heywood with 40 seconds left and Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA) at the buzzer.
In his 106th career game, Cannata became the program's all-time Division-I saves leader with 2,698, passing Joe Exter (2,669). The Hobey Baker nominee also moved into second place all-time at Merrimack in minutes played.
Maine finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Merrimack was 1-for-2.
Sullivan totaled 32 saves in the tie, as Maine outshot Merrimack 41-34.
Merrimack finished the season-series 2-0-1 against Maine, its best performance in a season ever against the Black Bears.