In the 32nd consecutive sellout at Gutterson Fieldhouse, 4,003 people saw the College Warriors of Merrimack top the #7 Vermont Catamounts 4-2 on Friday night. The loss drops the Cats to 15-8-2 overall and 7-7-2 in Hockey East. The win snapped a 12-game winless streak for Merrimack as they improve to 5-17-2 and 2-13-7 in conference.
So far in January Vermont has scored just seven goals in six games going 2-3-1 during that stretch. “I actually feel bad for our guys in some ways,” said Vermont head coach, Kevin Sneddon. “We talked about it between the second and third periods. We’re just pressing so hard trying to score. It’s a tough feeling as a coach; you want to try and help them through it but there’s not a lot you can do. That’s something as a team you’ve got to sort out.”
Neither team was able to get anything going on the offensive end during the first period. But less then two minutes into the second period, sophomore Hank Carisio scored his fifth goal of the season to give Merrimack a 1-0 lead. The goal snapped Vermont’s home shutout streak at 266 minutes and three seconds.
Senior Jeff Corey scored the equalizer at 12:34 of the period. The power play goal was his ninth tally of the season. Brady Leisenring and Ryan Gunderson got the assists on the goal.
It looked like the period would end tie but Merrimack had others ideas. With just 46 seconds remaining, junior Matt Byrnes scored his second goal of the game on a pass from Rob LaLonde. The period ended with the score 3-2 Merrimack. This was just the fifth time in 25 games this season that Vermont trailed heading into the third period.
Vermont came out firing in the third period and it paid off when senior Matt Syroczynski found the back of the net 46 seconds into the period. Torrey Mitchell and Gunderson each assisted on the goal. The assist was Mitchell’s team-leading 21st of the season.
It did not take Merrimack long to regain the lead. At 2:44 Freshman Rob Ricci shoved home a rebound on the power play to give the Warriors a 3-2 lead.
Vermont had multiple chances in the final period but could not get the equalizer. Merrimack added a late empty net goal with 12 second remaining to put the game out of reach.
Note: On Saturday night Vermont was able to avenge the loss with an exhilarating 4-3 overtime victory over Merrimack. Vermont was leading 3-2 entering the third period but was not able to hold the lead. Jeff Corey scored two goals in the game including the game winner at the 3:17 mark of the overtime period. The win improved the Catamounts to 16-8-2 and 8-7-2 in Hockey East.