LOWELL, MA – Mike Collins (Boston, MA) scored a pair of power play goals as #12/13 Merrimack concluded a three-point weekend, tying #7 UMass Lowell 2-2 Saturday night at the Tsongas Center.
Merrimack (16-9-7, 12-8-5 HEA) heads to UMass to kick off the final weekend of the regular season next Friday at 7 p.m. before returning home to host the Minutemen next Saturday at 7 p.m. As part of Fan Appreciation Night, tickets are available for a special price of $5 in advance at the box office and online at merrimackathletics.com.
Merrimack fell one point behind Maine for fourth place and continues to trail Lowell by two for third. However, the Warriors have a game-in-hand on the Black Bears and the tiebreaker; therefore, they control their own destiny in the hunt for home ice. Merrimack's magic number (combined total of Merrimack points and missed points by Maine) is three. They cannot clinch until Saturday regardless.
In a game in which every goal was scored on the power play, Merrimack took the 1-0 lead as Collins scored just his second goal since December 30 with his team on the power play at 4:45. The sophomore forward redirected a shot from Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA) past Doug Carr for his eighth of the year.
Merrimack led 1-0 after the first, surviving a massive scrum in front of Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) at the end of a Lowell power play with one minute left in the period. Kyle Singleton (Beaverton, OR) saved a goal with a block, and Cannata made two saves with six bodies on the ice in front of him before Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, CO) drew a hooking penalty at 19:03.
Lowell evened it up in the second as David Vallorani took a cross-ice feed from Matt Ferreira and one-timed it home for his 10th of the year on the power play at 10:26.
Merrimack was outshot 12-9 in the second, but had quality scoring chances, including a Jeff Velleca (Waterbury, CT) rebound shot off a Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) wrister that was stopped by the right pad of Carr. Flanigan also redirected a Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) shot as a power play expired but was stopped by Carr.
Collins picked up his second power play goal of the game at 13:15 of the third, as his wrister from the right faceoff circle beat Carr over the glove. Connor Toomey (Billerica, MA) and Bigos got the assists, as Collins notched his second multi-power play goal game of the season.
But the River Hawks would draw a power play of their own with 3:44 to play in regulation, and Josh Holmstrom potted the tying goal, as his shot from in between the circles just snuck by Cannata at 17:00, sending the game to overtime.
Merrimack outshot Lowell 12-7 in the third, highlighted by a Justin Mansfield (Arlington, MA) apparent goal at 6:35 that was disallowed after it was ruled he kicked the puck into the net.
Lowell outshot Merrimack 3-2 in the extra session, but the Warriors had the better possession as a Heywood wrister with Velleca in front was stopped by Carr, as was a quick shot from Shawn Bates (Fort Saskatchewan, AB).
Cannata totaled 26 saves in the tie, compared to 28 for Carr.
Merrimack was 2-for-6 on the man advantage, with Lowell going 2-for-5.
After tying Lowell in the season series (1-1-1), Merrimack is 3-3-2 in season series this year and will complete its final series next weekend against UMass, who pulled into a tie for eighth with Northeastern.
Merrimack did improve to 8-0-4 when leading after one, 7-3-4 on Saturdays this year and 6-2-3 in the second game of back-to-backs.