NORTH ANDOVER, MA. - Despite firing 20 shots in the third period and scoring twice, the Merrimack hockey team could not find the tying goal and dropped a 4-2 decision to 14th-ranked Northeastern University Friday night at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack trailed 3-0 entering the third, due to undisciplined play which resulted in seven NU power-plays in the first two periods, but got on the board at 5:11 of third as Matt Jones tipped in a puck in front of goaltender Brad Thiessen for his 13th of the season on the power play. J.C. Robitaille fed Jones the puck in front while Joe Cucci earned the secondary assist as the Warriors' new-look power play of five forwards clicked to make it a two-goal game.
Fifty-four seconds later and again on the power play, the lead was cut to one as a centering feed from Robitaille from behind the net went off the right leg of Thiessen and into the net for his ninth of the year, with Rob Ricci and Jones getting the assists.
The Warriors' offensive onslaught continued as they fired 20 shots-on-goal in the final period, but Thiessen responded to the challenge. He stopped Chris Barton, Ricci, and Chris Kane in succession with 1:45 to play to keep the score tied. Cucci and Robitaille each fired three shots in the final period while Barton added two.
Following a Merrimack timeout, the Huskies put the game away as Wade MacLeod, who notched two assists earlier in the game, buried an empty netter for the 4-2 victory and a three-point night.
The Huskies got on the board at 9:28 of the first as Kyle Kraemer broke down the right side one-on-one against a Warrior defender and waited for Joe Vitale to join the play. Vitale had an open net to score his eighth of the season after taking a pass from Kraemer into to give the Huskies the early lead.
Greg Costa took advantage of a fortuitous bounce at 7:41 of the second as a wrist shot from center ice beat Andrew Braithwaite after the puck hit the ice in front of the goaltender and ricocheted directly upwards, over his glove and into the net. Ryan Ginand then fired a wrist shot from the point on the power play nine minutes later to give the visitors the 3-0 lead at the end of the second.
The Warriors' best chance in the first two periods came in the second minute of the game, but Thiessen stopped captain Derek Pallardy on a breakaway attempt with the teams skating four aside.
Thiessen stopped 31 shots, while Braithwaite made 26 saves, seeing his record evened at 6-6-1.
Merrimack (10-13-3, 4-13-2 HEA) will travel to Burlington, VT. to face the University of Vermont next Friday and Saturday night with both games starting at 7 p.m.