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Merrimack routs Arizona State, snaps ten-game losing streak

Merrimack broke its first ten-game losing streak in a decade with Sunday afternoon's 10-0 victory over Arizona State at Lawler Arena.

Merrimack sophomore Brett Seney had three assists on Sunday.
Merrimack sophomore Brett Seney had three assists on Sunday.
Matt Dewkett

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- January was not the best of months for Merrimack.

The Warriors had scored ten goals in its first nine games ― all losses ― in January, but returned to form on the month's final day and snapped a ten-game losing streak.

Freshman Derek Petti notched his first two collegiate goals and added three assists, leading 14 different players with points in Merrimack's 10-0 victory over Division 1 newcomer Arizona State on Sunday afternoon at Lawler Arena.

"I thought our guys came out ready to play, and, you know what, I thought we had a lot of puck luck tonight," Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. "We batted at least three pucks in, pucks we could have used at other stages of our season. It just so happened to be tonight."

The win snapped the Warriors' first double-digit losing streak in a decade and lifted their record to 8-14-5 for the season. Merrimack had not won since Dec. 20, when it earned a 4-1 win over Canisius.

The Warriors entered the zone right off the opening faceoff and drew first blood just 38 seconds into the game on Petti's first collegiate goal. Junior linemate Chris LeBlanc got credit for the primary assist, setting up Petti for a wrister at the front of the net.

"This is a great team win, and it's going to help us a lot," said Petti, after becoming the first Warrior to score five points in a game since Chris Barton on Feb. 5, 2011 against UMass. "No matter who our opponent was, we wanted to come in and play as one unit. I think we did that. We played hard and were ready to play from the get-go."

Sophomore Mathieu Tibbet doubled Merrimack's lead at 7:45, backhanding a rebound home for his fifth goal of the season. Tibbet followed up defenseman Alex Carle's initial shot with a backhand from the left side.

Captain Brian Christie, the Warriors' leading scorer, broke a 16-game goalless drought at 12:45. Senior linemate Ben Bahe fed the puck to the front of the net where Christie tipped the puck upstairs of ASU's Ryland Pashovitz.

Freshman Mathieu Foget and LeBlanc each scored their third goal of the season in the final four minutes of the opening period for a 5-0 advantage. Foget scored at 16:32 as he drove from right to left along the goal line and tucked home a puck low, while LeBlanc shot home a power play goal from the slot 2:07 later.

"We just tried to go out there, keep it simple and do the little things right, work hard, and it worked out for us," LeBlanc said. "I didn't have to do much, just kind of clean up the garbage."

All four of Merrimack's goals in the middle frame came on the power play. The Warriors finished the night 5-for-7 with a man advantage.

LeBlanc ensured the first multi-goal game of his collegiate career at 1:22, before freshman Alex Carle teed up a shot from between the circles that changed directions on its way into ASU netminder Robert Levin's crease at 6:45.

Tibbet's second goal of the night and sixth of the season gave Merrimack a 8-0 lead at 8:32. Freshman Michael Babcock scored Merrimack's ninth goal and fifth consecutive on the man advantage at the 13:18 mark, cutting down the right side for a wrist shot.

Petti scored shorthanded to close the scoring at the 16:14 mark of the final period, taking a pretty feed across the ice from junior Hampus Gustafsson and sliding a wrister past Levin from the left side.

"To be honest, I'm surprised it's taken him this long (to produce) because he's excellent in practice," Dennehy said of Petti, who played his entire four-year career in public school in Tewksbury, Mass., before a year of juniors. "He might score more goals in practice than anybody on our team. That's why he keeps getting in the lineup, because he does some pretty special things."

All three Merrimack goaltenders saw action in the game with sophomore starter Collin Delia making five saves in the first period. Freshman Drew Vogler made 13 stops in the second and third, while senior Joe Pantalone made three over the final 6:01 in his second career appearance.

Sunday's game completed ASU's second stretch of three games in three days this season. The Sun Devils suffered a combined 12-2 sweep against UMass Lowell the two nights prior.

"I wouldn't wish (three games in three days) on anybody, but it was the only way we could get the game," Dennehy said. "I want to thank them for playing it and also want to welcome Arizona State to college hockey. I think it's awesome for college hockey that they're a part of what we're doing."