NHIAA Hockey: Merrimack rallies to remain perfect
GOFFSTOWN - Skill and talent is good, but sometimes it takes a little more to keep an undefeated season going.
The Merrimack High School hockey team rallied for four goals in the third period to overcome a two-goal deficit and beat Goffstown, 5-3, in Division II action at Sullivan Arena on Saturday.
Connor Powell had a hand in all four goals with two assists and two scores, including the game winner on a shot he was just hoping to get on net.
"A kid dumped it and it got in my skates," Powell said. "I tried to cut to the net and get a better angle. I had no clue it went in. I guess luck happens sometimes."
That happened with 1:23 left to play. He then added an empty-net goal with five seconds left to seal the deal.
Powell finished with two goals and three assists. He was one of the veteran leaders challenged by coach Kurt Mithoefer during the second intermission, and the Tomahawk leadership responded. Merrimack remains undefeated at 11-0 and Goffstown slipped to 7-5.
"We gave a valiant effort for three periods," Goffstown coach Paul Roy said. "We made some mental mistakes a little in the third period. They took advantage of the opportunities."
Goffstown held two-goal leads twice in the game. The Grizzlies went up 2-0 with goals from Dakota Mulcay and Chris Grinley and led 3-1 when Zachary Storro scored with 5:55 left in the second.
The Grizzlies have played the top teams in the league tough. They have already beaten Bedford and Dover and had Merrimack on the ropes.
"You've got to finish the deal against teams like this," Roy said. "We can take this as a learning experience and get something from it down the road."
Things changed in the third as Merrimack came out with more spring in its step. It all started when Mithoefer put Powell on a line with Dom Valluzzi and Josh Roy to open the third, which generated a couple of good scoring chances.
It snowballed from their and the Tomahawk offense caught fire.
"They woke up," Mithoefer said. "I said to the kids if you want to keep the streak alive we've got to play. I out the challenge on them and they showed up."
Tyler Brewster got things going when he was set up in front of the net by Powell with 7:25 left to play to make it a 3-2 game. Then Valluzzi tied things up with 3:54 left when he put home the rebound of his own shot.
The Grizzlies were scrambling at that point, but got a good opportunity to pull back ahead with a two-on-one. Mulcay carried the puck in on the right side and had Tyler Grinley in the middle but elected to take the shot himself, which was stopped by Tomahawk goalie Brett Glendye.
Just more than a minute later was when Powell swept through the Goffstown zone and flipped in the game-winner.
"In between periods we put it on him and Dom," Mithoefer said. "We said it's up to you guys. You guys are the leaders so show up."
Josh Roy had the other goal for Merrimack, which made it a 2-1 Goffstown lead with 59 seconds left in the first period.