By Mike McMahon
---- — PROVIDENCE, R.I. — All seemed lost for Merrimack College.
Trailing by a goal to Providence with just over six minutes remaining in the third period, senior defenseman Kyle Bigos was whistled for a five-minute major, putting the Warriors on the penalty kill for the majority of the game’s final minutes.
But thanks to freshman Vinny Scotti, that didn’t matter.
The rookie found an opening with junior Shawn Bates, breaking in on a 2-on-1 to tie the score. The Warriors and Friars remained deadlocked through overtime, finishing in a 2-2 tie yesterday at Schneider Arena.
The scoring chance came after an astute Scotti noticed the potential for an odd-man rush earlier in the game.
Before Clayton Jardine went down with an apparent knee injury in the second period, Scotti was killing penalties with Mike Collins, and he mentioned to Collins the possibility of the odd-man chance. But after the injury — which Jardine did not return from — Scotti was on a killing unit with Shawn Bates and he also mentioned to his junior linemate the potential of an attacking chance down a man.
“I told him I thought we’d have that opportunity,” he said. “I saw them rolling in on the powerplay. They’d crash the net really hard and then try to get guys in behind us. The boards (at Schneider) are lively, so I knew we could get a hop there and that’s exactly what we got. I jumped off the bench and saw Batesy flying and my eyes lit up.”
Bates carried the puck deep into the attacking zone before dropping it back for Scotti for the finish.
“I knew (Providence goalie Jon) Gillies was a big kid, so I didn’t want to rush it, and it worked.”
Scotti also scored earlier in the game, taking another feed from Bates on the power play and again, patiently holding the puck until he was able to find an opening, up and over a sprawled Gillies.
“Vinny’s always showed a lot of poise,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy. “He has patience, he has savvy and he’s a very smart player. Shawn Bates, too. He made a great pass on that second goal. It was a great all-around game from both of them.”
Jardine goes down
Sophomore winger Clayton Jardine had been playing some of his best hockey of late, getting inserted onto the Warriors’s second line and finding some chemistry with Shawn Bates and Josh Myers.
But Jardine went down early in the second period yesterday after taking a leg-on-leg collision with Providence’s Shane Luke.
“It’s too soon to know anything,” Dennehy said. “We’ll need to get some pictures taken and hope for the best.”
Luke, who was assessed a major for kneeing on the play, went down with about six minutes remaining in the third after colliding with Kyle Bigos in the Merrimack. Bigos was also given a kneeing major.
Merrimack remained in first place in Hockey East, leading Boston College by one point after the Eagles tied UNH, 4-4, yesterday. They also lead the Wildcats by two points.
In the Pairwise rankings, the Warriors remained at No. 18.
Merrimack 2, Providence 2
at Schneider Arena
Merrimack College (14-10-6, 12-6-3 HE): 0-1-1–2
Providence College (11-10-7, 9-6-6 HE): 1-1-0–2
First Period: 1. PC Shane Luke 5 (Ross Mauermann), ev, 1:00.
Second Period: 2. MC Vinny Scotti 5 (Shawn Bates, Brendan Ellis), pp, 4:27; 3. PC Derek Army 12 (Brandon Tanev), ev, 15:36.
Third Period: 4. MC Vinny Scotti 6 (Shawn Bates), sh, 15:04.
Shots: Merrimack 6-10-6-4–26; Providence 9-11-4-2–26
Saves: MC Marotta 26 shots, 24 saves; PC Gillies 26 shots, 24 saves
Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 3; Providence 0 for 5
Penalties: Merrimack 7-17; Providence 4-11
Faceoffs: 42-27 Providence
Attendance: 2,089 (2,089)
Next: Hosts BC Sunday, 7