Fornataro sparks Wildcats with two goals
DURHAM, N.H. - Matt Fornataro (Calgary, Alberta) scored two goals, including the game-winner, to lead the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire men's ice hockey team to Friday night's 6-2 Hockey East victory against Merrimack College at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, winners of five of the last six games, improved to 16-5-2 overall and 9-1-1 in Hockey East. MC is now 8-17-2, 1-13-1.
The Wildcats quickly built a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Fornataro at 2:10 and Preston Callander (Regina, Sask.; goal, assist) at 6:05. Off a pass from Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.; goal, assist), Fornataro netted the game's first goal when his high shot from the right point sailed into the net. The 'Cats took advantage of a 5x3 power play when Brett Hemingway (Surrey, B.C.) centered the puck from behind the net to Callander, who scored from the low slot. Brian Yandle (Milton, Mass.) was also credited with an assist on the play.
Merrimack trimmed the deficit to 2-1 at 13:08 when Bryan Schmidt's shot from the right point deflected off a UNH defenseman into the net. Jordan Fox and Hank Carisio set up the tally.
Wildcats' goaltender Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.) preserved that one-goal lead late in the period by denying Brent Gough on a shorthanded breakaway.
Both teams netted a second-period goal to give New Hampshire a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes of play. Fornataro's second goal of the game, this time from the right post, gave UNH a 3-1 lead at 1:49. Jacob Micflikier (Winnipeg, Manitoba) initiated the scoring sequence with a pass from the left point and Josh Ciocco (Atco, N.J.), standing in the low slot, touched the puck over to Fornataro.
The Warriors once again pulled within one goal, 3-2, when Gough scored a power-play goal from the right doorstep at 7:34. Schmidt, with a pass from the right circle, and Fox set up the goal.
Schmidt almost tied the game in the opening seconds of the third period when his shot from the right point caromed off the far post. The Wildcats regained momentum and built a 5-2 lead when Radja and Sean Collins (Reading, Mass.) netted goals 71 seconds apart at 3:29 and 4:40, respectively. Mark Kolanos (Calgary, Alberta) scored off a rebound at 11:45 to close the scoring.
Regan finished with 30 saves for the 'Cats while MC counterpart Frank McLaughlin was credited with 26 saves.
Six other Wildcats recorded one third-period assist. Robbie Barker (Concord, N.H.) and Craig Switzer (Peachland, B.C.) set up Radja's tally, then Callander and Tyson Teplitsky (Saskatoon, Sask.) assisted Collins. Kolanas' strike was set up by Andrew Leach (Albany, N.Y.) and Chris Murray (Dover, Mass.).
New Hampshire returns to action Jan. 22 (7 p.m.) at Boston College. The next Wildcat home game is Jan. 29 vs. UMass-Lowell. Opening faceoff at the Whittemore Center is 7 p.m.