DURHAM, N.H. – Jeff Silengo (Madison, Conn.) tallied his second goal of the season and the third-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team compiled a 52-24 shot advantage, but Merrimack College skated to a 4-1 Hockey East victory against the Wildcats at the Whittemore Center on Saturday night.
Merrimack, which took two out of three games in the season series with UNH, upped its record to 12-10-5 overall and 10-6-2 in HEA action. The Wildcats' mark falls to 16-7-2, 11-6-1.
Warrior netminder Sam Marotta made 51 saves to improve his record to 9-5-3, while Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) saw his record slip to 15-5-2 after turning aside 20 shots.
Merrimack jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 6:18 of the first period on the first of two goals from Shawn Bates. Josh Myers intercepted a clearing attempt and passed the puck along the boards to Clayton Jardine behind the net. Jardine spotted Bates at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, and the junior center blasted a one-timer that deflected off DeSmith and into the back of the net. UNH outshot Merrimack, 12-8, in the period and staved off MC's lone first-period power play.
The Warriors seized a 2-0 lead at 8:50 of the second in almost identical fashion, with Bates tallying his fifth of the season on assists from Myers and Jardine.
Just over four minutes later, UNH cut the lead in half on Silengo's goal at 12:52. The Wildcats took advantage of a delayed penalty against MC by pulling DeSmith in favor of an extra attacker. Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.) forwarded the puck to Scott Pavelski (Plover, Wis.), who sent in a shot from the right circle that was redirected by Silengo past Marotta to trim the deficit to 2-1. Pavelski and Sorkin were credited with assists.
Merrimack retaliated with a power-play goal from Vinny Scotti at 16:02 of the second to bring the score to 3-1. Behind the UNH net, Brian Christie passed to Mike Collins along the right-wing boards. Collins dealt the puck to Scotti on the other side of the ice for a one-timer goal. UNH boasted a 20-9 second-period shot advantage.
Collins put the game out of reach for the Wildcats with an unassisted, empty-net goal at 18:41 of the third period. After intercepting a pass in front of his own net, Collins was able to go coast-to-coast to seal a three-goal lead and the Merrimack victory. The 'Cats held a decisive 20-7 shot advantage in the final frame.
The Warriors finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Wildcats went 0-for-3 in man-up situations.
UNH returns to action for a home-and-home series against Providence College next weekend, beginning with a 7 p.m. game at Schneider Arena on Friday, Feb. 8. The Wildcats return to home ice at the Whittemore Center against the Friars on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.unwhildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.