College Hockey: Marotta's 51 saves lift Merrimack over UNH
DURHAM - Merrimack closed that gap.
Junior goalie Sam Marotta made 51 saves to lift the Warriors to a 4-1 win over No. 3-ranked New Hampshire on Saturday night in front of a crowd 5,499 at the Whittemore Center.
UNH stays in second place in Hockey East, two points behind Boston College.
Merrimack, which posted a 1-0 win over UMass-Lowell on Friday night improved to 12-10-5 overall and 10-6-2 in the league and climbed over idle Boston University into third place in the league. The Warriors are a single point behind the Wildcats.
"It' a big missed opportunity for us," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "It's just disappointing because I thought the guys played hard and they have nothing to show for it. It just makes everything even closer now with a lot of games to go."
The Wildcats could have pulled into first-place tie with Boston College with a win and put a little room between themselves and the teams trailing them.
They take on another team trying to chase them down next weekend. They are at Providence on Friday night and play the Friars again on Sunday at the Whittemore Center at 4 p.m.
Providence is in fifth place in the league, a point behind Boston University and three behind UNH.
The Wildcats lost to Providence, 6-5, two weeks ago at the Whittemore Center.
Marotta, a 6-foot-4 junior in his first year as the starter, stopped 19 of the 20 shots he saw in the second period and all 20 in the third.
"He played a very good game," Umile said. "He put himself in position. Some shots I believe he didn't even see, but he was in position to make the save."
Casey DeSmith, the UNH sophomore from Rochester, had 24 saves.
Merrimack's Shawn Bates scored the only goal of the first period at the 6:18 mark with a shot that beat DeSmith to the stick side.
The Warriors added to their lead in the second period and came out of it on top, 3-1.
Bates got another past DeSmith, this time with a shot from the slot along the ice for 2-0 at the 8:50 mark.
The goal came less than a minute after UNH thought it had its first goal of the game. Dalton Speelman fired a shot that looked like it might have gone into the top right corner of the net and come back out. After video review, it was ruled no goal.
Junior Jeff Silengo got one for real with 7:08 left in the period when he tipped in a Scott Pavelski shot and UNH had a great chance to tie the game. Silengo's goal was an extra attacker score on a delayed penalty call.
The Wildcats then went on the power play as result of the delayed call for tripping on Brendan Ellis.
UNH pressured Marotta and the Warriors, but were unable to get the tying goal.
The Warriors then had their turn on the power play when John Henrion was called for high-sticking. They capitalized with a Vinny Scotti goal off a nice Mike Collins setup with 3:58 left in the period.
The Wildcats had a 20-9 edge in shot for the period, but came out of it down 3-1. They outshot Merrimack 20-7 in the third but could get no closer and Collins finished it off with an empty net goal with 1:19 left to play.
"We had a ton of chances," said senior forward Austin Block.