MANCHESTER — Three power-play goals and a hat trick from senior captain Mark Feeney propelled No. 7 Merrimack to a 6-1 win over No. 10 Kingswood of Wolfeboro in NHIAA Division II ice hockey opening round play at JFK Coliseum Wednesday night.
Merrimack improved to 11-8-0 and will face No. 2 Dover (15-3-0) Saturday at 4 p.m. at Dover Arena. Kingswood’s season ends at 7-12-0. The Tomahawks broke open a close game with four goals in the third period.
“We just kept telling the kids to keep grinding. We were outskating. I thought we controlled the puck really well in all three zones,” Merrimack head coach Kurt Mithoefer said. “(Feeney) has had a big shot the last couple years from the point and (being) a senior captain, the playoffs, this could have been his last game and he knew he had to come up big and he did.”
The Tomahawks led 2-1 to open the third period and went to work. Skating a 5:00 power play, Merrimack made it a 3-1 lead at 5:12 of the third. Kingswood’s Matt Mitchell was unable to clear the puck and Jason Fortin stole the puck and fired a low shot past Knights freshman goalie Alex Seigars.
A five-on-three goal at 5:56 made it a 4-1 lead and completed Feeney’s hat trick. Feeney drilled a slap shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off Kingswood defender Peter Marshall’s stick and in.
“It feels good putting one in like that,” Feeney said of getting all three goals on slap shots. “Once we got a good lead I felt confident in our team and we started scoring and putting them away.”
Merrimack pushed the advantage to 5-1 at 10:38 when Shane Foye banged home a rebound shot from close range after Seigars had kicked out two previous shots. Merrimack’s Tucker Twardosky closed the scoring with 27 seconds remaining, roofing a shot from the right doorstep.
Merrimack lost to Dover 3-2 early in the regular season, losing on a goal in the final minute. The rematch should be a good one Saturday.
“We played Dover really well when we went up there earlier in the season. From where we were then to where we are now, I think we’re a better team. We jelled, the chemistry is a lot better,” Mithoefer said. “We know what the keys to that game are and what we need to do and if we play like we did the last game of the season (a 3-1 loss to undefeated Bedford), I think we have a really good shot.”
After a scoreless first period, Kingswood broke through at 5:19 of the second stanza with a shorthanded goal. Owen Gonya skated up the right side and fired a shot on goalie Devin Gillis that was turned aside. But Austin Chasse was there to collect the rebound and slide it home.
Merrimack tied the game at 1-1 at 9:15 of the second. Feeney’s slap shot from above the right circle eluded traffic and slipped through the five-hole of Seigars.
Feeney made it 2-1 with a slapper from the same spot at 11:55 on the power play. This time Feeney’s blast went high to beat Seigars stick-side.