Hockey East Friday Night Recap: Merrimack tops BC in overtime, jumps into first place alone

Merrimack's Connor Toomey scored the game-winner in overtime as the Warriors took over first place in Hockey East with a 2-1 win over BC. - Walter Rossini

Sophomore Connor Toomey scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift Merrimack over Boston College and into sole possession of first place in the league. Elsewhere, Vermont and UMass-Lowell took road wins, while BU salvaged a tie in Maine.

Merrimack 2, Boston College 1 (OT)

Sophomore Connor Toomey scored the game-winning goal on a power play with 31 seconds remaining in overtime, sending Lawler Arena into a frenzy and sending the No. 19 Merrimack Warriors into sole possession of first place in Hockey East with a 2-1 win over the No. 4 Boston College Eagles. Since joining the league in 1989, the Warriors have never held the lead atop the standings this late into a season. Senior John Heffernan scored at 12:57 of the third period to propel Merrimack into a tie, setting up Toomey, a fellow Merrimack Valley native from Billerica, to win the game with his fourth goal of the season. The Eagles have lost five of their last nine games and now sit at a very impressive mark of 48-5-3 following the Beanpot over the past four seasons. BC senior Parker Milner recorded 40 saves between the pipes, while helping to kill off eight penalties over the course of the contest. BC is now 29-for-31 over the last seven games after a very successful night that saw its only blemish end the game for the Warriors. On the offensive, sophomore Quinn Smith continued a solid stretch, that began in the Beanpot win over Harvard, scoring first at 8:58 of the opening period. The teams return to action on Sunday with a pair of key games with BC hosting New Hampshire and Merrimack heading south to Providence's Schneider Arena.


Maine 3, Boston University 3 (OT)

Despite allowing three power play goals to the host Black Bears, rookie Ahti Oksanen scored the equalizer with 11:58 remaining in regulation to salvage a 3-3 stalemate and a much-needed point in the league standings at Alfond Arena. Veterans Matt Nieto and Wade Megan scored twice in ten seconds for the Terriers in the ninth minute of the opening period, before rookie Steven Swavely found the back side of Matt O'Connor (33 saves) at 18:26 of the first and 1:12 of the second, while assisting on Joey Diamond's team-best 11th strike of the year 5:27 into the middle frame. Neither side was able to cash in on their three shots on goal in overtime, settling for a tie. The teams will meet again on Saturday on NESN to close their season series, with BU looking to earn the tiebreaker as they were 1-0 winners in the Dec. 8, 2012 opener at Agganis Arena.

Vermont 2, Northeastern 1

Senior Ben Albertson scored his first goal of the season at 11:29 of the second period at Matthews Arena as the Catamounts took their second one-goal decision in a row from the Huskies to grab a crucial season series and tiebreaker, earning a 2-1 decision for rookie Brody Hoffman (26 saves), who has allowed just one goal in his last 120 minutes. Sophomore Adam Reid put the Huskies ahead first on the evening, scoring on a rebound on the power play at 6:56 - a play which included an assist from rookie Kevin Roy, who has now posted ten points in his last six games. However, sophomore Jacob Fallon leveled the score just four minutes later, before UVM's checking line set the winner past Northeastern senior Chris Rawlings (32 saves) just over a period later. The Huskies will look to bounce back in the series finale on Saturday night and beat the Cats for the fifth time in the last seven meetings.

UMass-Lowell 6, Massachusetts 3

Junior Derek Arnold scored a pair of goals, both assisted by classmate Joe Houk, and was named the game's first star, as the River Hawks doubled up their Alumni Cup rivals at Mullins Center to win the season series. Senior Riley Wetmore scored his 100th-career point on a power play goal at 15:04 of the final period to give Lowell a two-goal cushion, while freshman Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 shots and earned his seventh straight win as he played between the pipes for the first time since Jan. 17. UMass battled to close its deficit to one goal on three occasions, but three strikes in the first period from the River Hawks, including one from sophomore Scott Wilson just 80 seconds in, were just too much. While UML is 11-2-1 since Dec. 1, 2012, the loss was the third in four games for UMass, which fell into eighth place.

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