ORONO, ME – The Merrimack hockey team downed the Maine Black Bears on Saturday night by the score of 3-2 in front of 4,067 fans at Alfond Arena in the final meeting of the regular season between the two clubs. The win marks the first-time in school history that the Warriors recorded points on back-to-back nights at Alfond Arena.
Merrimack (9-9-5, 7-5-2 HEA) will return home for its first game of the season against the University of New Hampshire on Friday. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday and tickets are still available for purchase by going online to www.merrimackathletics.com or by calling the box office at 978-837-5324.
With the win, Merrimack now trails Providence and Boston University by two points for third place in the Hockey East standings with one game in hand on both the Friars and the Terriers.
The Warriors picked up the game-winning goal early in the third period as Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) jumped on a bouncing puck in front of the Maine goal and buried the puck over the glove of Ouellette after a nice pass from Collins, his third assist of the night. Bigos also picked up his seventh assist of the season on the Bly goal, making the score 3-1 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
With the win, the Warriors improve to 21-1-2 over the past two seasons when leading after two periods of play.
Senior Kyle Bigos (Upland, Calif.) got the Warriors on the board first once again on Saturday in the first period on a two-man advantage power-play opportunity as he took a Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, BC) pass and blasted a slap shot past Martin Ouellette on the short side under his blocker. Bigos skated in to the top of the circles and found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season while Ellis picked up his ninth assist and Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) picked up his 14th assist.
The Bigos goal was set up by a great diving glove save by Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) to rob Devin Shore. After the diving save, Marotta was slashed to give the Warriors the power-play opportunity that they converted on.
The Warriors extended their lead to 2-0 as Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) redirected a Collins pass past the Maine goalie just 39 seconds into the second period. Collins and Brian Christie (West Chester, PA) picked up the assists on Heywood's fifth goal of the season.
With the momentum squarely behind the Warriors and a power-play opportunity with just over a minute left, Joey Diamond gave the Black Bears their first goal of the game. Diamond stole a Heywood pass and walked in all alone on Marotta, beating him under his blocker to make the score 2-1 in favor of the visitors.
The Black Bears made the score 3-2 with six minutes to go as Connor Leen found the back of the net after another Merrimack turnover in their defensive zone.
With the Maine net empty for the last 23 seconds of the game, the Warriors cleared the puck out and Collins scored what appeared to be an empty-net goal but after further review, the goal was overturned, giving Merrimack the 3-2 victory.
Marotta picked up his sixth win of the season as he made 22 saves while Ouellette finished with 25 saves for the Black Bears.
Merrimack finished the game going 1-8 on the power play with eight shots and they held the Black Bears to 0-7 on their power-play chances.