DURHAM, N.H.-- Mike Souza and Jim Abbott scored 14 seconds apart to break a 2-2 tie midway through the third period as the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team (22-7-6, 13-5-6) skated to a 5-2 victory over Merrimack College (11-18-6, 6-12-6) in the first game of the Hockey East quaterfinals, Thursday at the Whittemore Center.
With the score tied at 2-2 Darren Haydar found a wide open Souza who beat Merrimack goaltender Chis Classen to give the Wildcats the 3-2 lead with 10 minutes to go in the third. New hampshire was quick to strike again as John Sadowski sent Abbott on a breakaway as he scored his seventh of the season. Tim Walsh ended the scoring with three minutes to go when he scored his third goal of the season.
Josh Prudden opened the scoring at 10:07 of the second period when he beat Classen for his second goal of the season, to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. One minute later New Hampshire gained a two goal lead as Pat Foley scored off a Walsh's rebound. Merrimack came back and tied the score at 2-2 as Vince Clevenger and Stephen Moon scored 28 seconds apart.
The two teams battled to a scoreless first period as Ty Conklin stopped seven shots for the Wildcats while Classen saved 11 for Merrimack. Conklin ended with 22 saves while Classen made 28 saves.
The two teams meet tomorrow night at the Whittemore Center in the second game of the best of three series.