Mike Radja scores two power-play goals for Wildcats

DURHAM, N.H. – Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.) recorded a goal and an assist to lead the third-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team to Friday night’s 3-1 Hockey East victory against Merrimack College at the Whittemore Center.

UNH, now 56-11-7 in the lifetime series vs. Merrimack, improved to 21-5-1 overall this season and 16-3-1 in Hockey East. MC, winless in its last nine games (0-7-2), is now 3-20-4, 3-15-2.

Brett Hemingway (Surrey, British Columbia) gave the Wildcats a 1-0 first-period lead with a power-play goal at 16:12. The scoring sequence began in the right corner with a pass from Jacob Micflikier (Winnipeg, Manitoba) to Radja at the near point. Radja moved the puck to the high slot, where Jamie Fritsch (Odenton, Md.) sent a return pass back to Radja cutting to the slot, and his high shot was redirected into the net by Hemingway.

In the second period, the Warriors tied the score 1-1 on a 2-on-1 rush, but UNH scored just 14 seconds later to regain the lead at 2-1.

Derek Pallardy, cutting through the slot, collected Matt Byrnes’ centering pass from the right circle and wristed a high shot into the net at 10:40. Pat Bowen’s pass through the neutral zone along the right boards set up the odd-man rush.

New Hampshire went back in front, 2-1, at 10:54 when Jerry Pollastrone’s (Revere, Mass.) shot from the right circle trickled behind MC goaltender Jim Healey and Trevor Smith (North Vancouver, British Columbia) swept to the top of the crease to poke the loose puck across the goal line. Matt Fornataro (Calgary, Alberta) was also credited with an assist on what proved to be the game-winning tally.

Five minutes later, with the visitors on their second power play of the period, UNH goalie Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.) made an impressive glove save to deny Chris Kane’s one-timer from the slot and preserve the Wildcats’ one-goal advantage through two periods of play.

Radja netted the Wildcats’ second power-play goal of the game at 3:42 of the third period when he chipped the puck past the defense down the slot and backhanded a high shot into the net. Chris Murray (Dover, Mass.) set up the tally that gave UNH a 3-1 advantage with the lead pass to Radja.

With 8:30 remaining and the visitors on the power play, Regan preserved the two-goal cushion by denying Pat Kimball in the slot, then Matt Jones on a redirection and the rebound.

UNH was whistled for a penalty with 2:30 remaining and MC pulled Healey in favor of an extra skater 17 seconds later to give the Warriors a two-skater advantage. Merrimack did not record a shot the rest of the way, however.

Regan finished with 23 saves while Healey, who was reinserted for the last three seconds of the game, stopped 27 shots.

New Hampshire and Merrimack conclude the home-and-home series Feb. 10 (7 p.m.) at Thom Lawler Arena. The Wildcats’ next home game is Feb. 16 vs. Boston University. The game, which will be televised by NESN, begins at 7 p.m.