UNH drew first blood as Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.) scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season at 4:20 of the first period. Jerry Pollastrone (Revere, Mass.) made a cross ice pass to Sislo how fired the puck past MC neminder Joe Cannata for the 1-0 lead. The goal was also assisted by James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.). The Warriors tied it up on at 10:17 of the first as Ryan Flanigan scored on the rebound of a Pat Bowen shot. Joe Cucci also had a hand in the goal. However, UNH would answer just 22 seconds later as Collins scored on an odd-man rush and was able to fire off a quick shot that beat Cannata above his left shoulder to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) and Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) had helpers on Collins’s goal. Merrimack held an 11-9 shot advantage, while the Warriors were unable to convert in the only power play opportunity of the period.
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Greg Collins (Fairport, N.Y.) matched a career-high two goals to lift No. 10 University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team to a 4-3 win over Hockey East foe Merrimack College Friday night at Lawler Arena. UNH improves to 17-9-5, 13-7-4 HE, while Merrimack is now 8-19-4, 4-17-3 HE. The Wildcats are winners of four straight.
The Wildcats extended their lead with the lone goal in the final minute of the second period. Jamie Fritsch (Odenton, Md.) scored his first goal of the season at 19:06 as he lifted the puck in front of the net off the cross bar and into the back of the net to make it 3-1. Danny Dries (Lake Orion, Mich.) and Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) had assists on the score that made it 3-1.
UNH extended its lead to 4-1 on Collins second goal of the game. During four-on-four play, Nick Krates (Palos Park, Ill.) made a pass to Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) at the point. Kessel fired the puck on net from the right point and Collins redirected the puck into the net at 7:04 of the third. The Warriors would add a pair of late goals in the final five minutes, but it proved to be too little, too late. The first of the goals came on the power play at 15:31 that made it 4-2. Karl Strollery scored on a one-timer with assists from Jesse Todd and Cucci. With netminder Cannata pulled in favor of an extra skater, it was Todd, who scored with assists from Bowen and Rob Ricci at 18:14 of the third. While the Warriors would get a few opportunities with the extra skater in the final minutes, UNH netminder Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) preserved the one-goal win.
Foster improves to 16-7-4 as he stopped 24 shots including 10 in the first period, while Cannata falls to 6-9-4 with 24 saves including 11 in the third period.
Merrimack was 1-4 on the power play, while the Wildcats were 0-2 on their extra-skater opportunities. UNH held a slim 28-27 shot advantage thanks to a 12-8 advantage in the third period.
The teams complete the home-and-home series as they will play the rubber match on Saturday night (7:30 p.m.) at Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H., doors will open at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on NESN (coverage beginning at 7 p.m.). Saturday night will be UNH’s “Senior Night” where it will honor the accomplishments on its seniors prior to the start of the game. The game also be broadcast live on the Wildcats Sports Network with live stats, live audio and live video available at www.unhwildcats.com.