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NORTH ANDOVER, MA - In front of a sellout crowd of 2,489, John Heffernan (Scituate, MA) and Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) both had multi-point efforts as #13 Merrimack defeated Army 3-2 in the home opener Saturday night at Lawler Arena.
The Warriors (2-0-0, 1-0-0 HEA) host Northeastern next Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Connecticut next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lawler Arena as part of Homecoming. Limited tickets remain and are available for purchase now online at merrimackathletics.com or by calling the box office at 978-837-5324. Student tickets will be available for pickup beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
"It's definitely a crazy atmosphere," said Bly, "it's hard to find an atmosphere that is as crazy and loud as this in college hockey. It's nice to be able to play in front of a place like this for your home crowd and not on the road."
Army took the early lead with a two-man advantage goal. With the Warriors down two men midway through the first, Andy Starczewski got a rebound off a shot from Marcel Alvarez and gave the Black Knights the lead with his first of the year at 10:54.
But captain Karl Stollery (Camrose, AB) tied it at 18:02 with his 16th career marker. Heffernan fed Stollery with a perfect cross-ice pass, who buried it into the open net to send the teams to the locker room tied at one. Bly also picked up an assist, his first on the year.
Playing their best period of the young season, the Warriors had three second-period power plays and outshot Army 19-2 in the stanza but failed to convert as Rob Tadazak turned aside everything he faced including point-blank power play shots from Heffernan, Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA), and Jeff Velleca (Waterbury, CT). The Black Knights were in every shooting line, blocking 18 shots through two periods.
Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) put the Warriors ahead with a man-advantage marker early in the third. Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) started the play getting a slapper on net, which Tadazak stopped, but the rebound went to Shawn Bates (Fort Saskatchewan, AB), who worked it across the crease to Flanigan who finished it at 1:04.
Heffernan picked up his first of the year at 7:32, getting the eventual game-winner, as put home a rebound off a Brandon Brodhag (Brooklyn Park, MN) shot. Bly also notched an assist, his second on the game.
But Army answered right back, as Mike Henderson cut the lead to one at 12:04 with his first of the year.
The visitors kept the pressure on as Maurice Alvarez and Danny Colvin had great chances with three minutes to play, but Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) was there to answer back with a pair of stops. Moments later, Bill Day was denied by the glove of Cannata.
After getting just eight shots in the first 40 minutes, the Black Knights registered 13 in the third but were outshot 40-21 in the game.
The sellout marked the sixth straight sellout at Lawler Arena and ninth straight win in front of the home fans dating back to last season.
Merrimack finished 1-for-7 on the power play, compared to 1-for-5 for Army.
Cannata totaled 19 saves, 12 in the third period, while the freshman Tadazak had 37 saves in the losing effort.