ORONO, Maine - Gustav Nyquist (Malmo, Sweden) broke a 2-2 with his 13th goal of the season with just 17 seconds remaining in regulation as the University of Maine mens ice hockey team defeated Merrimack 4-2 on Saturday night at Alfond Arena in Orono. The Black Bears extended their unbeaten streak to nine games, the longest in the nation. Maine improves to 11-7-2 on the season and 8-4-1 in Hockey East play. Merrimack falls to 7-11-0, 4-7-0 in conference play.
Merrimack opened the scoring 2:58 into the first period when Fraser Allan fired a shot at Black Bear goaltender Scott Darling (Lemont, Ill.). The shot was tipped in front by Justin Bonitatibus who notched his sixth goal of the season to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead. Pat Bowen also assisted on the goal.
The Black Bears would knot the score at one goal a piece when Spencer Abbott (Hamilton, Ontario) found a streaking Robby Dee (Plymouth, Minn.) in the slot. Dee then beat Warrior goaltender Andrew Braithwaite at 13:57. Jeff Dimmen (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also assisted on the goal, which was Dees eighth of the season.
Maine would take a 2-1 lead when Will ONeill (Salem, Mass.) hit Abbott with a pass at the Warrior blue line. Abbott would carry the puck in, skating to Braithwaites right and tossing the puck off the back of the Merrimack goaltender and into the back of the net. For Abbott, it was his fifth goal of the season.
After a scoreless second period, the Warriors would even the score when Chris Barton scored his ninth tally of the season. The Warriors worked the puck around the Maine zone while skating on the power play as Joe Cucci sent the puck across to Karl Stollery. Stollery then found Barton who fired the puck past Darling.
With just 17 seconds remaining in the final period, Nyquist would score what would eventually end up being the game-winner for the Black Bears. Tanner House (Cochrane, Alberta) sent the puck to Abbott. Abbott skated near the blue line and found Nyquist on the right circle. Nyquist made a fancy move to fake out a defender and then unleashed a wrist shot by Braithwaite. For Nyquist, it was his 10th straight game scoring at least one point.
Ryan Hegarty (Arlington, Mass.) would add an empty net goal when he stole the puck in the Black Bear zone and sent a shot down ice and into the Warrior net to give the Black Bears a 4-2 victory. For Hegarty, it was his first career goal.
Darling was solid in net for the Black Bears, making 26 saves and moving his record to 11-3-2 on the season. Brathwaite made 25 saves for the Warriors. He falls to 4-3-0 on the season.
Maine finished the game with a 29-28 edge in shots on goal. The Black Bears were 0-for-4 on the power play, while Merrimack was 2-for-3.
Maine returns to action on Friday, Jan. 15 when they travel to Boston College for a game against the Eagles. Merrimack next hits the ice when it travels to Boston University on Saturday, Jan. 16.