BOSTON, Mass. - Junior Joe Cucci scored on the first shot of overtime to lift visiting Merrimack to a 3-2 victory over the Boston University men's ice hockey team on Saturday evening at Agganis Arena, forcing a decisive third game in the teams' Hockey East quarterfinal series. The Terriers (17-16-3) tied the game just over five minutes into the third period, but went on to drop an overtime contest for the first time in over two years.
Sixth-seeded Merrimack (16-18-2) won at Agganis for the first time in 11 tries and picked up its first Hockey East tournament win since 1998, when it upset the Terriers in the quarterfinal round.
The No. 3-seed Terriers rallied back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 with the latter equalizer coming at 5:19 of the third on a power-play tally by freshman Wade Megan. BU had three more power-play opportunities in the third, but was unable to capitalize on any of them and finished the night 1-for-11 with the man advantage.
Cucci's overtime winner came in transition, as he received a cross-crease pass above the left post from sophomore Ryan Flanigan and redirected the puck past BU goaltender Kieran Millan just 2:16 into the extra session.
Millan finished the game with 32 saves, while Merrimack netminder Joe Cannata picked up the win in goal following a 24-save performance. The Warriors went 1-of-5 on the power play after being held scoreless on six chances on Friday.
Freshman Stephane Da Costa gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead 11:30 into the game off a successful give-and-go with junior Chris Barton.
BU tied the game at 2:33 of the second when a blast from the top of the zone by senior Eric Gryba went off the skate of a Warrior defender and past Cannata off assists from junior Joe Pereira and senior Luke Popko.
Merrimack regained the lead before the second intermission, as freshman Brandon Brodhag sent home a rebound from the top of the crease with just 1:39 left in the middle stanza. Junior Fraser Allan and senior Pat Bowen assisted on the play.
Megan's game-tying tally came on a second effort by the right post following a saved shot from the stick of freshman Alex Chiasson.
BU posted an identical 3-2 win on Friday in the first game of the quarterfinal series, rallying from a 2-0 deficit thanks to the game-tying and game-winning goals from sophomore Vinny Saponari.
The Terriers, who last lost in overtime on Feb. 4, 2008, against Boston College, will be looking to avoid consecutive losses to Merrimack for the first time in program history when the teams meet again on Sunday (March 14) in the third and decisive game of the Hockey East quarterfinals. BU will be playing in a third game in the quarterfinal round for the fourth consecutive year, having won all of the previous three. Game time is set for 7 p.m.