DURHAM, N.H. -- Lanny Gare (Vernon, B.C.) scored a career-high four goals to lead the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Saturday night's 8-3 Hockey East victory against Merrimack College at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which had 12 skaters record a point -- 10 of whom had a multiple-point game -- is now 13-4-2 overall and 7-2-1 in the conference while Merrimack is now 7-7-3, 4-4-1.
Holding 3-1 through two periods, the Wildcats outscored the visitors 5-2 in the final frame. Gare scored 34 seconds into the stanza to extend UNH's lead to 4-1 but the Warriors' Matt Johnson trimmed the deficit to two goals, 4-2, at 3:59. Gare, who became the first Wildcat to score four goals in a game since Jason Krog in 1999, scored a power-play goal at 6:46 and struck again for his fourth goal of the night at 11:01 to give the 'Cats a 6-2 cushion.
Merrimack pulled goaltender Joe Exter (41 saves) at that point, but Preston Callander (Regina, Sask.; two goals) scored 1:30 later for a 7-2 Wildcat advantage. UNH pulled Michael Ayers (Hingham, Mass.; 13 saves) with that five-goal lead and Jeff Pietrasiak (Shrewsbury, Mass.) stopped four shots and allowed a Brent Gough goal (15:20) the remainder of the way.Warriors' backup goalie Casey Guenther surrendered two goals, including the last of the game by Callander with 2:02 remaining, and was credited with three saves.
Steve Saviano (Reading, Mass.; goal, assist) gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead 4:21 into the game when his shot from the right circle deflected off a defenseman in the slot and ricocheted into the net. Merrimack tied the game, 1-1, on an Eric Pedersen power-play goal at 6:02. Pedersen, with the assistance of Alex Sikatchev and Marco Rosa, fired a shot through traffic from the top of the slot. New Hampshire broke a 1-1 tie on second-period goals by Sean Collins (Reading, Mass.) at 13:13 and Gare at 14:15.
Colin Hemingway (Surrey, B.C.) finished with three assists while Mike Lubesnick (Northbrook, Ill.), Justin Aikins (South Surrey, B.C.), Joshua Prudden (Andover, Mass.), Patrick Foley (Milton, Mass.) and Garrett Stafford (Los Angeles, Calif.) each recorded two assists.
New Hampshire returns to action Jan. 11 at Providence College. Game time is 7 p.m.