BOSTON, Mass. - Paced by three goals in the opening period and a 42-save performance from senior goaltender Kieran Millan, the No. 10/11 Boston University men's ice hockey team posted a 4-2 victory over No. 7/6 Merrimack in its first game of 2012 on Friday evening at Agganis Arena. The Terriers gave up an early goal before quickly erasing the deficit and taking the lead for good to improve to 11-6-1 overall and 9-4-1 in Hockey East play.
Ten different players recorded a point for the Terriers to help them into first place in the league standings with the victory, which was their seventh in their last eight conference games. Sophomore Sahir Gill led the way with a goal and an assist while juniors Justin Courtnall and Alex Chiasson each found the back of the net. Freshman Alexx Privitera tallied the eventual game winner.
Merrimack (11-4-3, 7-3-1 HEA) got goals from freshman Josh Myers and junior Kyle Bigos. Sophomore Josh Myers assisted on both tallies and senior Joe Cannata recorded 32 saves on the night.
The Warriors opened the scoring at 4:31 of the first when Myers poked in a rebound for his first collegiate goal.
The Terriers wasted little time in not only coming up with an equalizer, but taking the lead, as Courtnall and Chiasson each scored less than a minute after the visitors' early strike.
Courtnall notched a goal for the second time in as many games with a second effort from above the left crease just 14 seconds after the Merrimack tally. Freshman Cason Hohmann and redshirt freshman Yasin Cisse assisted on the marker.
Just 45 seconds later, BU took a lead it would not relinquish. On their first power play of the evening, the Terriers used some strong passing to set up a redirect for Chiasson along the right slot. Senior Chris Connolly set up the goal and sophomore Adam Clendening also assisted on the play.
BU was able to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to another power-play tally with just 1:33 left in the frame. After receiving a pass from Gill in the right corner, sophomore Matt Nieto spotted Privitera all alone in front for an easy tap-in past Cannata.
Merrimack made it a 3-2 affair with a power-play tally of its own midway through the middle stanza. Kyle Bigos potted his eighth goal of the year with helpers from Brendan Ellis and Shawn Bates at 9:45.
With the visitors posturing for a comeback, Gill came through with a big goal at 17:23 of the second to reestablish a two-goal lead for the Terriers. With room and time at the top of the slot, the centerman gathered a pass from junior Max Nicastro and drilled a shot off the left elbow and in for his sixth tally of the season.
The Warriors flung everything they could at the BU net in the third, but Millan stopped all 20 shots he faced in the period to secure the triumph.
Merrimack, which went 1-of-5 on the power play, held a 44-36 advantage in shots for the game. BU cashed in on half of their four chances with the man advantage.
The Terriers will return to action on Sunday (Jan. 8) when they play host to the U.S. National Under-18 Team for an exhibition contest. Game time is set for 7 p.m. That same day, Merrimack will visit Boston College for a 1 p.m. game.