NORTH ANDOVER, MA. - Center Rob Ricci (Brampton, Ontario) scored with 5:14 to play in regulation and then added an empty netter, breaking a scoreless tie and giving Merrimack the 2-0 victory over #14 Providence College Friday night at Lawler Arena.
Sophomore goaltender Andrew Braithwaite (Kingston, Ontario) stopped 42 shots for his second shutout of the season and of his career in the victory.
The original shot on Ricci's goal came from Matt Jones (Kentwood, MI). Jones' shot was stopped but the rebound went right to Ricci, who broke through both Friar defenders and roofed a backhander past Tyler Sims for his ninth of the year.
The Warriors killed off three penalties in the third, including a five minute major and a two-man advantage of 1:26 early in the period. They also faced a 6-on-4 after Fraser Allan (North Battleford, Sask.) was whistled for hooking with 2:39 to play and Providence pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker but survived behind an excellent job of blocking shots, particularly from Derek Pallardy (Chesterfield, MO.) and Matt Moulakelis (Hawthorne Woods, IL).
After Allan's penalty expired, Ricci buried an empty-netter from center ice for his second of the night, 10th of the season to put the game away.
The victory snapped a five-game winless streak (0-4-1) for Merrimack and moved them into ninth place in Hockey East, as they passed Maine, who was idle tonight. The Warriors trail UMass Amherst by five points with five games to play for the final Hockey East playoff spot. UMass and Maine, who both have six games left, will face off Saturday and Sunday in Orono, ME.
The teams were scoreless through two periods with the Friars out shooting Merrimack 27-14, including 16-8 in the second, but Braithwaite, making his 13th straight start in goal, was up to the challenge stopping everything the Friars threw at the sophomore netminder.
Just 20 days ago, Braithwaite stopped 50 shots against these Friars at Lawler Arena, earning a point for his team in a 1-1 tie.
The Warriors (11-15-3, 5-15-2 HEA) will travel to Providence to take on the 14th-ranked Friars Saturday for a 7 p.m. start at Schneider Arena.