NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) stopped 27 shots as 14th-ranked Merrimack netted two first-period goals and hung on for the 2-1 victory over Vermont Friday night in front of 2,068 fans at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (14-5-4, 8-5-3 HEA) concludes its season-long four-game home stand against Vermont (5-14-4, 3-10-3 HEA) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised across New England on NESN, marking the first NESN-televised game in North Andover since 2005. Limited tickets are available at merrimackathletics.com or by calling the ticket office at 978-837-5324. The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive free Merrimack gold shirts courtesy of Pepsi.
The Warriors got off to a great start as Chris Barton (Calgary, AB) and Jesse Todd (Camrose, AB) scored 2:34 apart to give the hosts the 2-0 lead through one period.
Outshooting Vermont 13-5 in the first, Joe Cucci (Melrose Park, IL) intercepted a Catamount clearing pass and fed Barton, who's wrister beat Rob Madore blocker side for his eighth of the season at 6:42.
Just after a Vermont penalty expired, Todd picked up his team-best 13th of the year, as he found a loose puck in front of Madore after Brandon Brodhag (Brooklyn Park, MN) and Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) also had point-blank rebounds denied by the goaltender.
Merrimack overcame four minor penalties in the final two periods, as the nation's second-ranked penalty kill was perfect in the victory.
Cannata made 22 stops in the final two periods, including 12 in the third as UVM outshot the Warriors 13-8.
Jack Downing cut the lead to one at 13:07, but Merrimack held from there, blocking 11 third-period shots, while Cannata made a great save off Downing with 3:20 to play. The junior goaltender had Sebastian Stalberg's number all night, turning aside all nine of his shots on goal.
Barton's goal gives the senior captain 99 career points. He will likely become the first Warrior to reach 100 career since Anthony Aquino in the 2001-02 campaign.
Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) was held pointless in the victory, snapping the sophomore's career-high 12-game scoring streak.