PROVIDENCE, RI – Behind a career-high two goals from freshman Vinny Scotti (Vineland, NJ), #19 Merrimack and Providence skated to a 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon at Schneider Arena. With the tie, Merrimack remains in sole possession of first place in the Hockey East with 27 points.
With the tie, Merrimack is still alone in first-place in the Hockey East standings, one point in front of #4 Boston College. The Warriors have never been atop the Hockey East standings this late in a season since joining the Hockey East.
#19 Merrimack (14-10-6, 12-6-3 HEA) returns home next Sunday for a crucial conference game with #4 Boston College at 4:00 p.m. at Lawler Arena. There are standing room only tickets still available for the game next Sunday and they can be purchased online at www.merrimackathletics.com or by phone at 978-837-5324.
The turning point of the game came with 6:08 to play in the game with the Warriors trailing 2-1. Kyle Bigos (Upland, Calif.) was called for a five-minute major kneeing penalty and the Warriors converted on a short-handed tally 1:12 later. Shawn Bates (Ft. Saskatechewan, AB) blocked a point shot by the Friars and went in on a 2-on-1 with Scotti and he fed a pass over to the open Scotti who went from his forehand to backhand and scored the game-tying goal.
In the overtime period, the Warriors had a couple chances to score but they were not able to get the game-winner as the two teams played five minutes with no score. The Warriors outshot the Friars 4-2 in the extra session.
The Friars were able to break through with the first goal of the game exactly one minute into action as Shane Luke forced a turnover and skated in alone, beating Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) under his blocker giving Providence the 1-0 lead.
Providence outshot the Warriors 9-6 in the opening 20 minutes of action and they went 0-for-2 on their power play opportunities while the Warriors finished 0-for-1.
Merrimack got on the board early in the second period after a five-minute major penalty for kneeing was assessed to the Friars. Scotti had his first shot from in front saved by the left pad of Jon Gillies but his second attempt found the back of the net. Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, BC) started the play with a long break out pass to Bates who forced a pass out front to Scotti for the goal. Ellis picked up his 11th assist and Bates his eighth on Scotti's fifth career goal.
Less than a minute later, the Warriors almost took the lead at 2-1 but Bates' quick wrist shot drew iron behind Gillies. The play was reviewed and the officials confirmed that the puck never crossed the line.
Derek Army gave the Friars their second lead of the game, 2-1, ten minutes after the Warriors tied the score at one as he dug the puck out of the corner and fired a sharp angle shot from the corner that found its way behind Marotta with 4:24 to play in the second.
The Warriors outshot the Friars 6-4 in the third period before scoring the eventual game-tying goal by Scotti off of a nice feed by Bates. The two-assist game for Bates gives him three two-point games in his last four contests.
Marotta finished off his impressive night with 24 saves, improving to 11-5-4 on the year while his counterpart Gillies finished with 24 saves as well.
For the game, the two teams each recorded 26 shots on goal while the Warriors finished 1-for-4 on their power play opportunities and Providence went 0-for-5 with only five shots.
Merrimack improves to 2-1-1 in their last four games against the Friars.