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Mariucci Classic: UMass-Lowell claims title in all-Hockey East affair

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Dylan Zink scored twice for the River Hawks against Merrimack to earn the Mariucci Classic in a 3-1 comeback win.

Matt Dewkett

MINNEAPOLIS- Last night a Merrimack player asked Connor Reilly how many seats a nearly full Marucci Arena held. When told 10,000, the player, according to Reilly, was amazed and not used in a bigger building.

There were far less people in the building for the Mariucci Classic championship on Saturday afternoon, a consequence of the home team being relegated to the consolation game. That didn't stop high-end hockey from being played on the big ice, however, nor did the low crowd bug UMass-Lowell head coach Norm Bazin.

It shouldn't because the River Hawks took home the 2015 Mariucci Classic by defeating Merrimack 3-1 in an-all Hockey East final.

"The fact there were very few people in the stands didn't make it any more challenging," said Bazin after his team received the Mariucci Classic trophy. "At the same time, the championship we're very proud to win this year's tournament."

River Hawks (14-3-3, 7-0-2 Hockey East)  defenseman Dylan Zink scored twice, including the tying and go-ahead goals and Evan Campbell (Edmonton Oilers draft pick) added an insurance goal.

Merrimack (11-6-2, 4-4-1 Hockey East) broke through first when senior captain Dan Kolomatis got his third goal of the season for the Warriors 6:49 into the game. Senior goaltender Rasmus Trirronen continued to play well a night after making 40 saves in a win against host Minnesota. He did get some help, most notably when Jace Henning dove head first in the second period to keep a puck out of the Merrimack goal.

Despite successfully suppressing shots for the second night in a row, Merrimack, finishing with a 44-22 deficit, faced some struggles against the River Hawks which came back in the second and third periods.

"We did a real good job of it last night, a so-so job of it tonight, but we weren't ready to play as hard as we needed to play against a good team," said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy, who added his team played two different games over the weekend.

Zink got his first goal midway through the second period. Playing four hours from home, the sophomore from Madison kept the puck in the Warriors zone and snapped a wrist shot through traffic. Although Merrimack's best chance to re-take the lead came with Zink in the box, the ice got more and more slanted towards the Warriors net as the game continued.

His second, with 3:49 remaining in regulation, was similar only without the traffic to finish the weekend with three goals in two games.

"Winning a championship is really good, not only for our team but the school," he said.

"(Zink)'s getting contributions offensively, which is key to our team," Bazin added. "He shoots the puck well. I'm glad he got those contributions because we wouldn't be sitting here talking about championships."

One championship in hand, it's time for the Hockey East co-leading River Hawks to work for another - one with more fans in the seats - as Bazin's team returns to conference play. It's also a lesson for Merrimack, which play UMass-Lowell two more times this month

"I think that right now (Lowell) is the benchmark and if that's the case we need to measure up," Dennehy said.

FINAL SCORING

First Period:

MERIMACK: Dan Kolomatis (3) (LeBlanc, Seney 6:49 EV)

Second Period:

UMASS-LOWELL: Dylan Zink (7) (Chapie 11:49 EV)

Third Period:

UMASS_LOWELL: Dylan Zink (8) (Gambardella, Kapla 16:11 EV)

UMASS-LOWELL: Evan Campbell (6) (Chapie, Z. Kamrass 18:57)

Shots

UML 14 - 12 - 18 -- 40

MC 4 - 8 - 10 -- 22

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --