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.
"I think that right now (Lowell) is the benchmark and if that's the case we need to measure up," Dennehy said.
MERIMACK: Dan Kolomatis (3) (LeBlanc, Seney 6:49 EV)
UMASS-LOWELL: Dylan Zink (7) (Chapie 11:49 EV)
UMASS_LOWELL: Dylan Zink (8) (Gambardella, Kapla 16:11 EV)
UMASS-LOWELL: Evan Campbell (6) (Chapie, Z. Kamrass 18:57)
UML 14 - 12 - 18 -- 40
MC 4 - 8 - 10 -- 22
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate