By Mike McMahon
---- — MANCHESTER, N.H. – At one point in the second period, Merrimack College trailed No. 4 New Hampshire by a goal, despite outshooting the Wildcats 24-9.
But all of a sudden, the wheels fell off.
The Warriors allowed three goals in the final 7:36 of the second period, including a goal by Collin MacDonald that came with no time left on the clock. UNH took a three-goal lead into the locker room en route to a 6-2 win over the Warriors at the Verizon Wireless Arena yesterday afternoon.
“That (last second) goal was huge,” said UNH defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who finished with three assists. “We’ve been struggling (had lost three of previous four games), so to have that nice lead it allowed us to play our game. We didn’t have to grip the sticks too tight, which is what you do. It was definitely nice to get that little cushion and get out of here with a win.”
That type of last-second goal is a back breaker, especially considering the Wildcats also scored just one minute prior.
“It wasn’t very good clock management,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “There’s seven seconds left and we shouldn’t be giving up numbers and we do. We need to learn from this and move on. We had our opportunity to get four points (this weekend) and we didn’t do it.”
Ben Bahe notched his first career goal for the Warriors in the second period, tying the score at 1-1. Sophomore winger Kyle Singleton made a strong play along the right-wing boards, chipping a puck in deep to Rhett Bly behind the net. The senior backhanded a pass in front where Bahe, a freshman, was charging for a quick tap-in goal.
That individual play was indicative of how the Warriors had played to that point.
Dennehy said, “We had three big-time breakdowns and it ended up in the back of our net. We made it way too easy. (Before that) we were all over them.”
The Warriors were unable to convert on their four power-play chances while the Wildcats tallied on two of their three.
UNH’s penalty kill is the best in the nation, now at 93.4 percent. UNH has scored four shorthanded goals and allowed just five power-play goals all year.
The Wildcats’ pressure with the man advantage turned out to be the difference.
On Connor Hardowa’s power-play goal in the second period, the Warriors fanned on a clearing attempt and the puck slowly made its way to Hardowa’s stick.
“We had the puck on our stick there and we didn’t get it out,” Dennehy said. “Those are bad omens. We weren’t as prepared to play as we needed to be against a team the quality of UNH.”
Dan Kolomatis, a sophomore defenseman, tallied his sixth of the season for the Warriors in the third period, at the time, cutting UNH’s lead to 5-2 before Grayson Downing finished the scoring at the 18:21 mark of the third.
“We have to figure out what it takes to win,” Merrimack junior captain Jordan Heywood said, “and we need to be willing to do it on a more consistent basis, night to night.”
New Hampshire 6, Merrimack 2
at Verizon Wireless Arena
Merrimack (10-10-5, 8-6-2 HE): 0-1-1–2
New Hampshire (15-6-2, 10-5-1 HE): 1-3-2–6
First Period: 1. UNH Austin Block 11 (Connor Hardowa, Trevor van Riemsdyk), pp, 7:29.
Second Period: 2. MC Ben Bahe 1 (Rhett Bly, Kyle Singleton), ev, 4:32; 3. UNH Connor Hardowa 2 (Grayson Downing, Trevor van Riemsdyk), pp, 12:23; 4. UNH Dan Correale 1 (Grayson Downing, Austin Block), ev, 18:58; 5. Collin MacDonald 1 (Trevor van Riemsdyk, John Henrion), ev, 19:59.
Third Period: 6. UNH Dalton Speelman 6 (Matt Willows, Collin MacDonald), ev, 8:51; 6. MC Dan Kolomatis 6 (Vinny Scotti, Connor Toomey), ev, 10:07.
Shots: MC 11-17-9–37; UNH 7-11–10-28
Saves: MC Marotta 28 shots, 22 saves; UNH DeSmith 37 shots, 35 saves
Power Play: MC 0-4; UNH 2-3
Penalties: MC 3-6; UNH 4-8
Faceoffs: 31-24 UNH
Attendance: 6,605 (9.582)
Next: Hosts UMass Lowell Friday, 7