LOWELL, MA – Thirty-nine saves from Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) were not enough as Derek Arnold scored two third-period goals as #7 UMass Lowell defeated #8 Merrimack 3-0 with three third-period tallies in front of 5,093 at the Tsongas Center Friday night.
Merrimack (15-7-5, 11-6-3 HEA) returns home Saturday to host the University of New Hampshire at 7 p.m. in a game televised by NESN across New England. Saturday's game will decide the season series as both teams earned a win in the other's building this year. NESN's pregame coverage will begin at 6 p.m.
The loss drops Merrimack to fourth place in Hockey East, two behind BU and BC for second and three behind Lowell for first. Maine trails Merrimack by one point for fifth, but the Warriors have a game in hand and the season series on the Black Bears. With BU and BC idle Saturday, Merrimack will move into a tie for second with a win Saturday.
Doug Carr stopped all 31 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season, including 11 in the third.
Arnold gave the River Hawks the lead 55 seconds into the third. The call on the ice was originally no goal after it appeared Arnold knocked it in with his hand but was overturned by video replay.
Arnold added an insurance marker with a one-timer that beat Cannata between the legs at 17:03 of the third just three seconds into a Lowell power play.
Riley Wetmore finished it with an empty netter at 18:26 of the third.
Despite 15 shots from each team in the first, the teams played to a scoreless tie. Carr made a great glove stop on Shawn Bates (Ft. Saskatchewan, AB) at 11:26 of the first, and Cannata followed with a big blocker stop on Joseph Pendenza. Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, CO) led all players with six shots on goal in the first 20 minutes.
Cannata stood tall in the second, stopping all 19 Lowell shots, including a nifty left pad stop off a turnaround wrister from David Vallorani with 1:45 to play in the period. Myers thought he had given Merrimack the 1-0 lead when he redirected a Dan Kolomatis (Basking Ridge, NJ) shot at 15:36 during a power play, but video replay ruled Myers had knocked it in with a high stick.
Merrimack finished 0-for-4 on the power play following the disallowed goal, while Lowell was 1-for-4.
With 39 saves, Cannata finished five shy of his career high of 44, which came in his first career game as a Warrior.
This marked the first time all season Merrimack was shutout.
Wetmore finished with points on all three Lowell goals, while freshman Scott Wilson had two assists for the River Hawks.
Lowell (19-7-0, 14-6-0 HEA), who has won 10 consecutive home games for the first time since 1995, hosts Maine Saturday at 7:15 p.m.