BOSTON, Mass. -The Northeastern men's hockey team exacted revenge upon Merrimack with a gritty 2-1 victory at Matthews Arena on Saturday night. The victory marked NU's third split of the season as rookie netminder stood tall in cage, turning away 24 shots in his first collegiate victory.
Freshman Garrett Vermeersch and senior David Strathman combined forces for the Huskies's two markers to secure their fourth Hockey East victory of the season, sixth in all.
Strathman chipped in the late-game heroics with his first game-winning goal since Northeastern last shutout Merrimack, 3-0, on Jan. 12, 2008. Vermeersch returned to the scoring column for the first time in three games with his fourth goal of the year as the Macomb, Mich. native leads all skaters with 10 points (4-6-10).
Sophomore Matt Lipinski notched his first-career assist on the game-winning goal while newcomer Justin Daniels tallied his second of the year. Junior Wade MacLeod and sophomore Alex Tuckerman registered their fifth and fourth helpers of the year, respectivel, in the win.
Vermeersch's tally at 4:59 of the second opened the game scoring, but it was Merrimack that had the first opportunity near the 17:00-minute mark of the first. The Warriors were right on the doorstep, but Mountain made a miraculous save with the butt end of his stick to keep the first 20 minutes clean.
The Huskies took the early lead after MacLeod created a look for Vermeersch on the near crease. MacLeod kicked the puck out a scrum at the far post and it slid right through the crease to a falling Vermeersch. The rookie kept his poise and potted the game's first goal to go up, 1-0.
Junior Tyler McNeely got called for contact to the head elbowing at 19:04 of the second, yielding Merrimack's lone tally of the evening. Karl Stollery roofed a one-timer from Joe Cucci just within the blue line to tie it, 1-1, with 11 ticks left in the period at 19:49.
Strathman and Daniels linked up at 6:28 to combine for the game-clinching lamplighter. Strathman burned MC netminder Joe Cannata with a crisp wristshot on a feed from behind the far post. Strathman took three full strides and roofed it for the 2-1 triumph. Lipinski created the play behind the net by flipping it out to Daniels.
Junior Steve Silva created a tense Matthews Arena atmosphere with a slashing call at 17:28 in the final stanza, but Northeastern's penalty kill snuffed out the Warriors' extra-man attack to maintain the victory.
Northeastern was outshot, 25-17, in the win. Cannata made 15 saves on the evening.
Northeastern makes its first overnight trip in Hockey East play to take on Maine in a rubber match from the prior series. Maine claimed the first contest, 6-2, but Northeastern responded with a 5-2 triumph to set the stage for Dec. 12 tilt at 7 p.m. Merrimack travels to take on Massachusetts on that same Saturday.