AMHERST — Joe Cannata made 42 saves for his first shutout of the season, as Merrimack completed the sweep of 18th-ranked UMass Amherst 3-0 last night at the Mullins Center.
Merrimack (13-15-1, 10-11-1 Hockey East) sits in eighth place in the playoff race in Hockey East with 21 points, just one point out of sixth and two out of fifth.
Merrimack is now unbeaten (4-0-1) in its last five, its longest streak in conference play since the 1993-94 season. The win is the Warriors' first in Amherst in 11 tries dating back to March 3, 2002.
Stephane Da Costa continued his extraordinary freshman campaign with a goal and an assist in the victory.
Despite UMass controlling play early in the second, it was Merrimack which struck first as Ryan Flanigan scored at 8:28 to give the visitors the lead. Pat Bowen threw the puck up the far boards to Jesse Todd, who just came off the bench. Todd found a breaking Flanigan on the opposite side of the ice, who went unnoticed by both defenders and the sophomore beat Dan Meyers for his third of the season.
Four minutes later with Merrimack on the power play, Brandon Brodhag who was stationed just outside the crease, took a feed from Joe Cucci and knocked it past Meyers for his ninth of the year. Da Costa also picked up an assist on the goal, his 24th of the year, as Merrimack's second-ranked power play tallied for the third time in five chances in the weekend sweep.
Cannata totaled 17 second-period saves, giving him 30 through 40 minutes.
Da Costa finished it off with his 14th of the season, sniping a blast past Dainton with 3:52 remaining in regulation. Chris Barton and Francois Ouimet assisted.
The Warrior defense was perfect in five penalty kills, including a two-man advantage in the third period. Merrimack's power play was 1-for-5 in the victory.