January 18, 2014

No. 5 Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey Dealt 6-3 Loss At Merrimack

NO. ANDOVER, Mass – Nationally-ranked No. 5 Quinnipiac men's ice hockey fell to Merrimack, 6-3, in a non-conference match-up at Lawler Rink in North Andover, Mass. The loss drops Quinnipiac to 18-4-5 on the year while Merrimack goes to 6-11-3 overall. 

The loss was Quinnipiac's first loss to a Hockey East team this season, dropping the Bobcats record against the league to 5-1-2. It also snaps Quinnipiac's seven-game unbeaten streak, which was tied for the third longest in the nation. Quinnipiac freshman Sam Anas (Potomac, Md.) scored twice, while Devon Toews (Abbottsford, British Columbia) had two assists. Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia) also scored for Quinnipiac.  

Merrimack created traffic early in front of Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig (Prince George, British Columbia) which resulted in a pair of goals in the first ten minutes of play. Merrimack capitalized on a power play opportunity early in the period as Brian Christie picked up a rebound on Garteig's back-door and gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead. At 10:37, it was Justin Mansfield with his first goal of the year, also on a rebound to give Merrimack a 2-0 lead.

With just under a minute to play in the first period, and the Bobcats skating with a man advantage, Connor Jones (Montrose, British Columbia), owner of the top face-off percentage in NCAA Division I ice hockey, won a draw in front of the Warriors' goal. Jones got tangled up on the face-off and pushed to the top of the Merrimack defensive zone, off the skate of a Merrimack player, and back to Devon Toews (Abbotsford, British Columbia) at the point. Toews touch-passed the puck over to Sam Anas (Potomac, Md.) who wristed a shot past Merrimack's Rasmus Tirronen to cut Merrimack's lead in half. It was Anas' team-best 15th goal of the season. 

Quinnipiac scored less than two minutes into the second period when Travis St. Denis (Trail, British Columbia) one-timed a shot past Tirronen to tie the game at 2-2. Zack Tolkinen (Lino Lakes, Minn.) played the puck over to Matthew Peca (Petawawa, Ontario) who fed St. Denis to the right of Tirronen, on the face-off dot. St. Denis shot found the opposite post where it caromed in to tie the game.

At 2:33 into the third period, Merrimack's Ben Bahe picked-off a Quinnipiac pass in the neutral zone and took off down the ice with Kellen Jones on the his back. Bahe skated into the Bobcats zone, between the face-off circles and wristed a shot past Garteig to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead.

Two minutes later, with both teams skating four-on-four, Christie scored his second goal of the game to give Merrimack a 4-2 lead. Christie carried the puck out of the Warriors' defensive zone and up-ice where he and Bahe found themselves on a two-on-one breakaway. Christie looked the Quinnipiac defenseman off and then wristed a shot past Garteig to give Merrimack a two-goal lead.

With 11:11 remaining in regulation, Merrimack's leading scorer Mike Collins netted his seventh goal of the year, with Christie and Ellis credited with assists, to give Merrimack a 5-2 lead. The goal came seconds after Quinnipiac sent two players to the penalty box and were skating two-men down.  

Anas' second goal of the night, and 16th of the year, came on the power play with 1:22 to play in regulation, with assists credited to Toews and Jordan Samuels-Thomas (West Hartford, Conn.). It was Toews second multiple-assist game of the year, while Samuels-Thomas' assist was his 99th career point. Merrimack added an empty-net goal with twenty-two seconds left in the game to push the Warriors lead to 6-3. 

Quinnipiac is back in action on Friday, Jan. 31 when it travels to Hanover, N.H. to take on Dartmouth in an ECAC Hockey match-up at Thompson Arena at 7 p.m.