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.
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.