February 7, 2009

Pair of Power-Play Goals in Span of 21 Seconds Lift Merrimack to 2-0 Win over Bears

Feb. 7, 2009

Box Score

NORTH ANDOVER, MA - After two periods of scoreless action, Merrimack (6-17-3) scored a pair of power-play goals just 21 seconds apart early in the third period to earn a 2-0 victory over the Brown men's ice hockey team (2-17-4) on Saturday evening at Lawler Arena in the Bears' final non-league game of the season.

The two teams played a scoreless first period with Merrimack holding a 15-9 advantage in shots on goal. Both freshman Mike Clemente (Great Falls, VA) and Warriors' freshman Joe Cannata matched each other in their respective nets, stopping all the shots that came their way in the first 20 minutes.

The Bears' best chance was midway through the period when junior Sean McMonagle (Oakville, ONT) had a look at a partially open net from the left side, but Cannata was able to get back over to make the save, keeping the game scoreless.

In what was becoming a defensive battle towards the middle of the second period, the Warriors almost grabbed a 1-0 lead when Rob Ricci picked up a lose puck just inside the blueline and skated in on Clemente all alone, taking a low shot from the top of the crease. Clemente held his positioning and closed the door to keep Merrimack off the board.

Senior leading scorer Matt Vokes (Auburn, MA) had a chance to put Brown up, 1-0, in the 14th minute of the period during the tail-end of the Bears' second power-play chance of the game. Stationed on the right edge of the goal, freshman Jarred Smith (Pepper Pike, OH) sent a centering feed across the crease to Vokes, who fanned on his shot, as the score remained knotted at 0-0 through two periods.

The turning point in the game came during the opening 5:40 of the third period when the two teams combined for four penalties, three of which were against Brown. The Bears spent the first three minutes of the third period down a man, following a penalty with 59 seconds remaining in the second period and then another just 1:04 into the third. Brown's penalty-kill unit kept the Warriors off the board for the full three minutes and then Brown went up on its third power-play of the game at 3:34. However, another Bears' penalty 1:27 later set up 33 seconds of four-on-four action.

Merrimack thought it had taken a 1-0 lead of the ensuing face-off at 4:05, but after a conference by all four referees, it was ruled that the puck had been kicked in. The Bears then found themselves down by two players 35 seconds later and the Warriors grabbed a 1-0 lead when Ricci knocked in the rebound of a shot by Jesse Todd at 6:15, after Clemente lost sight of the puck following the initial save.

Joe Cucci gave Merrimack a 2-0 lead 21 seconds later at 6:36, converting for another power-play goal from the bottom of the left face-off circle.

The Bears had to kill two more penalties in the final five minutes of play, essentially eliminating their chances for a comeback.

Clemente finished the night with 39 saves, while Joe Cannata made 18 to earn the shutout for the Warriors. The Bears return to action next weekend when they travel to the New York Capital District to play at RPI and at Union.

BROWN 0 0 0 x - 0
MERRIMACK 0 0 2 x - 2

First period - No Scoring. Penalties - B, 2-4; M, 1-2.
Second period - No Scoring. Penalties - B, 2-4; M, 1-2.
Third Period - M, Ricci (Todd, Stollery), 5x3, 6:15; M, Cucci (Bowen), PP, 6:36. Penalties - B, 7-14; M, 3-6.

Saves
B, Mike Clemente (59:53), 15-12-12-x - 39; M, Joe Cannata (59:50), 9-4-5-x - 18.