DENVER, - Senior goaltender Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, Mass.) turned away 29 of the 30 shots he saw all night, but No. 17 Denver made a first-period goal stand over the entirety of the contest, as the Merrimack College men's ice hockey team was shut out, 1-0, in its 2013-14 season opener on Friday night at Magness Arena.
In a game that featured 55 total shots on target between the two sides, it was the one from Denver's Daniel Doremus at 4:30 of the first stanza that proved to be the difference, as the Pioneers registered a power play tally early in the opening period and Denver goaltender Sam Brittain made that stand the rest of the way.
While Marotta did yield that one marker, the senior netminder was brilliant for the Warriors, making several acrobatic saves throughout the first and second periods and came up with a huge glove save at one point to keep the deficit at one, but his counterpart was equally good, turning aside all 25 of the Warriors' chances to preserve the win for the home side.
Merrimack came out of the gate on its heels, yielding the first three power play chances of the game to he hosts, including one 54 seconds in and a too many men on the ice call at 4:07 which led to Denver's first score at 4:30, when Daniel Doremus tipped a Nolan Zajac wrister from the point past Marotta for the opening salvo.
But after the power play strike and another Merrimack too many men on the ice infraction that nullified the Warriors' first power play chance of the game, the visitors found their legs and generated some scoring chances over the last eight minutes, aided by another Denver penalty that the Warriors could not capitalize on.
Trailing by a goal at the first intermission, Merrimack forced the pressure right off the bat at the start of the second, with a couple early chances turned aside by Brittain. After a stretch of back-and-forth play, Denver began to tilt the momentum in its favor and held a 10-shot advantage at one point before the Warriors rattled off the final four shots on net to close out the stanza with the score still fixed at a 1-0 in the Pioneers' favor.
The third period saw Merrimack perhaps enjoy its best chance of the night after junior Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, Colo.), playing not far from his hometown, snuck through the defense and walked in on Brittain on a breakaway but saw his attempt steered aside to keep Denver ahead.
The Warriors had another opportunity with an early power play chance - the first since 13:43 of the first period - after Ty Loney went off for a trip at 2:17, but the visitors would register just one shot on that chance and, despite a 7-6 advantage in shots during the final 20 minutes, Denver would hold on to preserve its one-goal shutout.
The two teams return to the ice tomorrow (Oct. 12) night to round out the weekend non-conference doubleheader. Puck drop from Magness Arena for the Saturday showdown is slated for 9 p.m. EST.