NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Behind a three-point night from junior Mike Collins, Merrimack defeated No. 4 New Hampshire 3-2 on Friday night in front of a sold-out Lawler Arena. With the victory, the Merrimack senior class ties last year’s senior class for the most wins in school history.
The last time Merrimack defeated a top-four team was October 30, 2010, when the Warriors beat No. 2 Boston College 4-2 at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (10-9-5) is now tied with Providence for fourth place in the Hockey East standings (8-5-2) with one game in hand on the Friars, and two points behind Boston University for second place.
The Warriors registered the game-winning goal just seven seconds into the third period as freshman Brian Christie won the opening draw and it ended up on the stick of Jordan Heywood, who skated in over the line and found Christie in between the circles. Christie took the pass and unleashed a quick wrist shot over the blocker of the UNH goaltender Jeff Wyler for his fourth goal of the season.
Merrimack opened the scoring with one minute to play in the first period as Collins, the team’s leading scorer, deposited his first goal of the night and 12th of the season. Collins took a feed from Quinn Gould and beat Wyer over the shoulder. Christie also picked up an assist on the Collins tally.
The Wildcats scored back-to-back goals early in the second period to take the 2-1 lead just 9:40 into action. Eric Knodel scored the first goal as his bouncing shot from the point beat Sam Marotta over his left shoulder. A couple of minutes later, Casey Thrush found the back of the net after a Connor Hardowa pass.
Collins didn’t waste any time to respond with the tying goal as he took the puck behind the net, skated out front looking to the point and fired a shot just inside the post to beat Wyer. The assists on the goal again went to Christie and Gould.
After the quick Merrimack goal in the third, the two teams went back and forth with the Warriors holding the 13-6 advantage in the third in shots on goal. The Wildcats pulled their goalie with a little more than a minute to play but were not able to beat Marotta.
Collins added to his team-leading 27 points and leads Hockey East in conference points with 25. Christie recorded his first-career three-point game and Gould picked up his first-career two assist game.
Marotta continued to stand tall for the Warriors, finishing with 29 saves in his seventh win of the season. Wyer made a career-high 32 saves for UNH.
Both teams finished the game going 0-for-3 on the power play with four shots on goal.
Merrimack improved to 6-2-3 in its past 11 games and 16-2-6 during the past two seasons when leading after one period of play.
Merrimack is in Manchester, N.H., to take on the Wildcats (14-6-2, 9-5-1) on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Center.