DURHAM, N.H. – New Hampshire welcomed, their closest Hockey East opponent, Merrimack College, into the Whittemore Center Arena Saturday night. The finale matchup between these two teams during the regular season. Last weekend Merrimack and New Hampshire split the weekend series. Friday night, Merrimack ended up on top, 3-2. Saturday night, New Hampshire ran away with the victory, 6-2.
After a slow start to Friday night’s game against UMass-Lowell, Merrimack made sure to start the scoring off early with a goal by, junior forward, Shawn Bates. His first period goal with the first of two goals for Bates during the game. New Hampshire would add a goal on a delayed penalty before giving up goal while on the penalty kill. With less than two minutes remaining, New Hampshire pulled DeSmith leaving the net open for Mike Collins to grab his 14th goal of the season, putting Merrimack up 4-1 and sealing up the victory.
Prior to Saturday night, New Hampshire was an outstanding 75 for 80 (93.8%) on the penalty kill. Merrimack freshman forward, Vinny Scotti, added his name to the short list of players to score against UNH’s penalty kill, with his second period goal. New Hampshire still sits atop Hockey East while on the penalty kill, killing 77 of 83 (92.8%) this season.
Sam Marotta, Merrimack’s junior goaltender, was the key factor in the Warriors victory, Saturday night. Marotta managed to stop the barrage of shots fired at him, saving 51 of 52 shots on the night. Marotta seems to have rebounded from his game last weekend against these same Wildcats, in which he gave up six goals. Friday night, Marotta only surrendered one goal in the victory of UMass-Lowell. After splitting time with Rasmus Tirronen to start the season, Marotta has proved to Merrimack head coach, Mark Dennehy, that he can handle the starting role.
Merrimack has put themselves back into tournament consideration with two big wins this weekend over UMass-Lowell and New Hampshire.