By Mike McMahon
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Merrimack College head coach Mark Dennehy has said he wanted his team to be on the attack more.
Last night here at Lawler Arena, the Warriors beat Army, 4-2, on the heels of 46 shots on goal and a whopping 94 shot attempts.
But that doesn’t mean it came easily.
The Warriors, who took a two-goal lead on tallies by Justin Hussar and Shawn Bates, saw it evaporate in the third period.
Army’s Mac Lalor — a defenseman who was playing his first game at forward — struck for two power-play goals in 36 seconds to tie the score.
”Up to this point, it was the hardest game of the year,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “It’s a non-conference game, everyone’s thinking about finals and everyone’s thinking about Christmas and I know that these young men from West Point are going to come in and play their tails off.”
But the Warriors were able to get one more.
Just 2:16 after Army tied the game, Hussar took a shot that sailed wide. It re-directed off the backboards and on to Vinny Scotti’s stick at the bottom of the left circle. The freshman, from a bad angle, fired the puck barely inside the right post to give the Warriors back a lead they would not relinquish.
”We shrunk the rink quite a bit and we moved the puck well,” Dennehy said. “I like how we played. The first period definitely jumpstarted us. We were definitely ready to go. Now, they also drove up here (yesterday) and that isn’t easy, but we had to play hard.
”They tie it up because, thankfully, for our country, these guys don’t quit, they keep battling, and we knew they would. But even when they tied it 2-2, there was still a level of confidence on our bench and a level of determination that hasn’t been there all year long. Those types of games are good for us.”
Got to love Lawler
Rob Tadazak must love playing at Merrimack.
Last year, he made 37 saves in a 3-2 Merrimack win here. Last night, he stopped 42 shots, including a whopping 19 in the first period. In all, Merrimack threw 94 shot attempts towards his crease, but he survived the flurry, allowing just three goals.
“I think we had the best player on the ice tonight,” Army head coach Brian Riley said. “He kept us in it when we needed him to. That first period we were under siege but we knew that we were still in the game and that was because he gave us a chance tonight, for sure.
“He’s a very good goalie. He’s very composed, you never saw him get rattled, and that kept us under control. There were times where we had to weather some storms but he was a calming influence.”
This time he can celebrate
Merrimack freshman Justin Hussar potted his second goal of the season at the 4:22 mark of the second period.
But, this time, he could celebrate like it was his first.
Hussar’s first goal was an empty-net tally against Northeastern last month.
”Yeah, this is a lot better,” he said.
“It’s definitely a better feeling and I won’t get ribbed by the other guys.”
“I think it was a shot from the point and (Brandon Brodhag) got a good piece on it. The goalie made a good save and it was just sitting there for me.”
Wounded Warriors Sgt. Ryan Casavant USMC and E-4 Donald R. Jarvis, Army National Guard, were honored before the game. ... On Dec. 1, prior to its win over AIC, Army honored former Black Knight hockey player Major Thomas Kennedy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in August.
Merrimack 4, Army 2
at J. Thom Lawler Arena
Army (5-7-2): 0-0-2–2
Merrimack (6-7-3): 0-1-3–4
Second Period: 1. MC Justin Hussar 2 (Brandon Brodhag, Kyle Bigos), ev, 4:22.
Third Period: 2. MC Shawn Bates 2 (Kyle Bigos, Clayton Jardine), ev, 6:12; 3. AR Mac Lalor 3 (Andy Starczewski, Jonathan Gehrt), pp, 9:13; 4. AR Mac Lalor 4 (Jonathan Gehrt, Willie Faust), pp, 9:50; 5. MC Vinny Scotti 2 (Justin Hussar, Justin Mansfield), pp, 12:06; 6. MC Mike Collins 9 (Rhett Bly, Brian Christie), en, 19:56.
Shots: Merrimack 19-12-15–46; Army 5-8-11–24
Saves: MC Tirronen (46 shots 24 shots, 22 saves); AR Tadazak (45 shots, 42 saves)
Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 3 (5 shots); Army 2 for 3 (4 shots)
Penalties: Merrimack 5-10; Army 5-10
Faceoffs: 46-29 Merrimack
Attendance: 1,869 (2,489)
Next: vs. Princeton Dec. 29 at Vermont