By Mike McMahon
---- — BURLINGTON, Vt. — For 46 minutes, Merrimack College never trailed Union. But, a 5-on-3 advantage for the Dutchmen at the 5:29 mark of the third period proved to be the momentum builder they needed.
Union scored a minute later and potted four goals in the period en route to beating the Warriors, 4-1, in the teams’ final game of the Catamount Cup tournament at the Gutterson Fieldhouse.
Jordan Heywood was whistled for tripping at the 3:47 mark of the third and Kyle Bigos was assessed the same minor along the boards 1:42 later.
The Dutchmen failed to score on the 5-on-3, but did on the ensuing 5-on-4 power play off the stick of Daniel Carr. They then beat Merrimack goaltender Rasmus Tirronen (26 saves) twice more before tacking on an empty netter late in the period.
”It really ignited us,” said Union head coach Rick Bennett. “We got a power-play goal there from Dan Carr, a goal scorer, and it really gave us a spark. It got it off our back and I think our guys said you know, ‘Let’s start to roll here.’ It’s not always going to be easy (to score goals) but I think our guys really fed off of it.”
Added Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy, “(The Union power play) changed the game. We got tired, we had to use the same bodies, and it’s tough to play catchup from there.”
The Warriors got on the board first when freshman Brian Christie scored his second goal of the season on the power play in the second period. It came after a dominating first period for the Warriors territorially, outshooting Vermont 6-4 officially on the scoreboard. More importantly, it showed in time on attack, as Merrimack out-attempted the Dutchmen 20-8.
Dennehy said, “What I really see is, we were 5-on-5 and we had good possession, but we have guys all trying to get open and go to the flanks and no one in the front of the net, no one. That’s where goals are scored. The game changed when they started running guys to the front of the net. That’s how you score at this level.”
The Dutchmen tied the score just over six minutes into the third period, also on the power play when Carr notched his seventh of the year. Daniel Ciampini scored on a rebound in front with just 6:30 left to make it 2-1. Kyle Bodie made it 3-1 four minutes after that and Wayne Simpson added the empty-netter.
No. 12/13 Union 4, Merrimack 1
at Gutterson Fieldhouse, Vermont
Union (9-4-4): 0-0-4–4
Merrimack (6-8-4): 0-1-0–1
Second Period: 1. MC Brian Christie 2 (Kyle Bigos), pp, 9:59.
Third Period: 2. UN Daniel Carr 7 (Max Novak, Matt Wilkins), pp, 6:30; 3. UN Daniel Ciampini 6 (Kyle Bodie, Wayne Simpson), ev, 13:30; 4. UN Kyle Bodie 4 (Wayne Simpson, Shawn Stuart), ev, 17:40; 5. UN Wayne Simpson 9 (Kyle Bodie), en, 18:50.
Shots: Merrimack 6-10-5–21; Union 4-12-14–30
Saves: MC Tirronen 29 shots, 26 saves; UN Stevens 21 shots, 20 saves
Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 4; Union 1 for 5
Penalties: Merrimack 4-8; Union 5-10
Next: at Vermont Saturday, 7 p.m.