Mike Collins continued to be the difference maker for Merrimack on Friday night as the Warriors upset #4 UNH 3-2 at Lawler Arena. A Bryan Christie goal seven seconds into the third period was the game winner. Collins notched two goals and added an assist while his linemate Christie had a goal and two helpers.
Sam Marotta was again stellar in net for the Warriors. The junior from Bridgewater has now started four consecutive games. After backing up Joe Cannata for two years, Marotta has really emerged as a formidable number one goaltender for Merrimack. He leads Hockey East in goals against average and save percentage for overall games and is second in each category in conference games.
In a surprising move, UNH coach Dick Umile started Reading native Jeff Wyer, marking the first time all season that Casey DeSmith didn't get the nod in net. Wyer was screened on the first goal, a Collins wrister from the right circle. The second goal was from a poor angle that Wyer didn't cover the post. The third goal was a quick wrist shot that might have caught him by surprise, coming so quickly. With how poorly DeSmith has been playing lately, the blame can't be put on Wyer. Umile announced after the game that DeSmith will start in Saturday's game.
UNH allowed a goal in the last minute of the first period and then a score just seven seconds into the third. The Wildcats had really controlled play in the second period, outshooting Merrimack 16-10. The goal Merrimack scored just seven seconds into the final frame swung the momentum back to the home team. UNH couldn't get anything going on two power plays that came in the final ten minutes. When Umile pulled the goalie for the extra attacker, it was much of the same as UNH couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone.
The two teams wrap up the two game weekend series Saturday at 5:00 at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.