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NORTH ANDOVER, MA - The Merrimack hockey team opened its season with a bang, scoring four goals and getting points from ten different players, in a 4-2 defeat over Niagara University Friday night at Lawler Arena.
The four goals scored by the Warriors are their highest output in a game since the 2005-06 season finale, when Merrimack defeated Providence College 4-3 in overtime.
Matt Jones (Kentwood, MI) scored the first goal of the season as he one-timed a pass from Pat Kimball (Framingham, MA) past Purple Eagles netminder Juliano Pagliero at 15:00 of the first period for the 1-0 lead.
Grant Farrell (Calgary, Alberta) made it 2-0 at 2:56 of the second as he fired a wrist shot above the blocker of Pagliero. Farrell's goal, a four-on-four goal, was assisted by freshmen Adam Ross (Red Deer, Alberta) and Kurtis Astle (Port Coquitlam, B.C.). The goal was Farrell's first as a Warrior after transferring from UMass-Lowell.
After Niagara's Matt Curuana made it 2-1 on the power play at 10:19 in the second, freshman Chris Barton (Calgary, Alberta) finished off a perfectly executed three-on-two with classmate Francois Ouimet (Lorraine, Quebec) and sophomore Rob Ricci (Brampton, Ontario) to push the lead back to two goals at 3-1.
Kyle Rogers cut the lead to one at 6:26 in the third as he put home a rebound after Pat Watson (Waltham, MA) stopped Vince Rocco's shot.
From there the Warriors' defense, led by Watson who made 28 saves, shut the Purple Eagles down and captain Derek Pallardy (Chesterfield, MO) put the game away with an empty net tally from past the red line.
Watson, the game's first star, came up big all night, especially in the first when he stopped all 12 shots he faced.
Of the ten Warriors who tallied points tonight, four of them were freshmen, playing in their first collegiate game.
The Warriors (1-0) travel next weekend to Bemidji State for a pair of non-conference games. Faceoff next Friday is scheduled for 8:35 p.m. EST, while Saturday's is at 8 p.m. EST.