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NORTH ANDOVER, MA - The Merrimack College hockey team wrapped up its season with a 4-2 loss to UMass Amherst Saturday night at Lawler Arena.
The Warriors finish the season 12-18-4 (6-18-3 HEA). With the victory, UMass (14-14-6, 9-13-5 HEA) gets the final playoff spot in the Hockey East playoffs and will play the University of New Hampshire next weekend in the quarterfinals.
James Marcou totaled three assists in the victory, while captain Cory Quirk tallied the game-winning goal with 7:43 to play in regulation. Quirk and Jordan Virtue scored 30 seconds apart in the third period to seal the victory for the Minutemen.
Freshmen Francois Ouimet (Lorraine, Quebec) and Joe Cucci (Melrose Park, IL) scored Merrimack's goals. Matt Jones (Kentwood, MI) and Cucci picked up assists on Ouimet's first-period goal, his eighth of the season, while Brandon Sadlowski (St. Paul, Alberta) notched his first point of the season on Cucciís blast from just inside the blue line in the second period.
Andrew Braithwaite (Kingston, Ontario) made 21 saves, making his 16th straight start in net, while freshman Paul Dainton stopped 30 shots.
Before the game, Merrimack's lone senior, captain Derek Pallardy (Chesterfield, MO) was honored as part of Senior Night. Pallardy ends his Warrior career with 21 points in 126 career games.
Despite not making the Hockey East playoffs, this year's Warriors surprised many, as most never saw Merrimack as even having a chance to make the playoffs. Highlighted by weekend sweeps at Bemidji State, vs. #16 Maine, and a home-and-home with #14 Providence, the Warriors caught the eye of the public and even garnered 22 national votes in the USCHO poll following the sweep of Maine. Forwards Rob Ricci, J.C. Robitaille, and Jones combined to score 38 goals, one more than the entire team scored in 2006-07. Braithwaite's impressive sophomore season saw the goaltender bring home three weekly Hockey East honors while posting the second best save percentage and goals-against in the conference entering tonightís game.