Merrimack College Topped By Army West Point, 3-2

Junior forward Hampus Gustafsson had two assists for the Warriors
Prd Time  Team Score Type Scored By Assists
1st 16:43  ARM1-0 EV Nick DeCenzo (5)Brendan McGuire/2, Nash Worden/4
2nd 7:43  MER1-1 EV Chris LeBlanc (2)Hampus Gustafsson/8, Derek Petti/1
2nd 17:05  ARM2-1 PP Conor Andrle (3)Mike Preston/3
3rd 12:14  ARM3-1 EV GW Trevor Fidler (5) -
3rd 19:19  MER2-3 SH EA Justin Hussar (5)Hampus Gustafsson/9, Brian Christie/10
Scoring 1st 2nd 3rd Final
Merrimack  0112
Army West Point  1113
Shots on Goal 1st 2nd 3rd SOG
Merrimack  1441937
Army West Point  661123
Team Stats and Records  PP PIM SHGF
Merrimack (7-5-5)  0/4 9/18 1
Army West Point (5-8-4)  1/7 6/12 0
Merrimack Goaltending MIN GA 1 2 3 Saves
Drew Vogler (L, 1-1-0)57:513 551020
Empty Net2:090     
Army West Point Goaltending MIN GA 1 2 3 Saves
Parker Gahagen (W, 5-5-4)59:552 1431835
Empty Net0:050     

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Playing its final game of 2015, the 20th-ranked Merrimack College men's ice hockey team dropped a 3-2 decision on the road against Army West Point on Tuesday night at Tate Rink.

The Basics

Score: Army West Point 3, Merrimack 2
Records: #20 Merrimack (7-5-5) | Army West Point (5-8-4)
Location: Tate Rink | West Point, N.Y.

How It Happened

Making its first trip to West Point in nearly five years, Merrimack looked to close out the 2015 portion of its schedule on a high note while also looking for its first winning streak since posting three straight victories at the beginning of November.

Merrimack showed no signs of sluggishness after a nine-day layoff, as the Warriors threw 14 shots at Army goaltender Parker Gahagen and benefitted from two power plays in the first period but came up empty on both of them. The Black Knights, meanwhile, scored a bizarre goal at the 16:43 mark of the period to carry a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

After surviving an early 5-on-3 penalty situation to start the second, Merrimack would eventually draw even off the stick of junior Chris LeBlanc (Winthrop, Mass.), who scored off a feed from classmate Hampus Gustafsson (Ljungby, Sweden) at 7:43 to get back to level. Freshman Derek Petti (Tewksbury, Mass.) also assisted on the play for his first career point.

But the Warriors, who were averaging only 9.7 penalty minutes per game coming in, were called for their sixth minor with just under four minutes to play in the second, and Army would capitalize; Conor Andrle scored from the slot off a turnover on a Merrimack clearing attempt, handing the Black Knights a 2-1 advantage after 40 minutes.

Things opened up in the third period after a tightly knit second period that saw only 10 shot attempts. Both sides combined for 20 shots on goal in 15 minutes in the final frame, but it was a Merrimack turnover that led to Army's key insurance tally at 12:14, as Trevor Fidler buried a breakaway to push the hosts' lead to 3-1.

With the extra skater out, Merrimack would make it a one-goal game after senior Justin Hussar (Lancaster, N.Y.) picked up a loose puck on the weak side of the crease and got it to go to bring the Warriors to within one.

Merrimack generated one last scoring chance in the game's waning moments, but Army would hold on to preserve the one-goal lead.

How They Scored

AWP #1 | P1 16:43 - 8,9,14,5,6 - With Merrimack and Army battling behind the Merrimack net, Army's Brendan McGuire deflected the puck so that it arced directly over the Merrimack net and into the crease to the stick of Nick DeCenzo, who merely redirected it in for a fluky first goal for the Black Knights.

MC #1 | P2 7:43 - Hampus Gustafsson jumps off the bench and picks off a loose puck in the Army zone. He then levies a heavy check at the end boards that forced the puck loose; Derek Petti would come up with the puck and angle it back to Gustafsson in the far wing corner. The latter then sent a centering diagonal feed into the slot for LeBlanc, who beat Gahagen with a wrister over the glove for his first goal since October.

AWP #2 | P2 17:05 - Conor Andrle takes the puck off a turnover with the Black Knights on the power play and buries a wrist shot from the slot to make it 2-1 Army.

AWP #3 | P3 12:14 - A turnover at the blue line led to a breakaway opportunity for Army's Trevor Fidler, who waited out Vogler and scored to make it a 3-1 lead for the Black Knights.

MC #2 | P3 19:19 - A point shot from senior Brian Christie (West Chester, Pa.) was blocked by Gustafsson, but Hussar was there to pick up the loose puck at the back door and bury it.

Inside The Numbers

- The loss snapped a 14-game winning streak against Army dating back to 1994, as the Warriors finish with a 3-1-0 record against the Atlantic Hockey Association this season

- For the eighth straight game, Merrimack was held without a first-period goal; the Warriors are the only team in the country without a first-period goal in that span

- Merrimack finished with a 37-23 edge in shot attempts and led in the first (14-6) and third (19-11) by wide margins

- Army finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while Merrimack went 0-for-4

- LeBlanc's goal was his first since scoring on Oct. 17 against St. Lawrence, which was the second game of the season

Up Next

Merrimack will open the New Year as a participant in the 27th Annual Ledyard Classic hosted by Dartmouth next weekend (Jan. 2-3). The Warriors will meet Union for the second time this season on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the first round of the tournament before facing the host Big Green on Sunday night at 7 p.m.