MANCHESTER, N.H. – Anders Lee scored two goals, including the game winner 5:32 into overtime, to lead third-seeded University of Notre Dame past second-seeded Merrimack College, 4-3, in Saturday's second NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal at Verizon Wireless Arena.
Notre Dame (24-14-5) advances to Sunday's regional final against fourth-seeded and regional host, University of New Hampshire, at 8 p.m. It is Notre Dame's third regional final berth in five years.
Lee netted the game-winning goal when he batted at a loose puck to the left of the net and knocked it off the right pad of Merrimack goaltender Joe Cannata and into the net. The Warriors were 4-0-4 in overtime contests this season coming into the day and suffered the loss despite outshooting Notre Dame, 6-1, in overtime.
Merrimack (25-10-4), which was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1988, jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the power play at the 13:23 mark of the opening period when Kyle Bigos found the back of the net off feeds from Ryan Flanigan and Jordan Heywood.
The short-handed Warriors widened their lead to 2-0 with four minutes remaining when Flanigan netted a goal of his own after receiving a pass from Stephane Da Costa.
Notre Dame earned its first goal on the power play just 27 seconds later when Calle Ridderwall lit the lamp. Billy Maday and T.J. Tynan were credited with assists on the play.
Rhett Bly gave Merrimack a two-goal lead nearly three minutes into the middle stanza when he buried his chance off a feed from Shawn Bates to make it 3-1. The Warriors were 19-0-2 when leading after two periods coming into the game.
The Irish answered at the 13:29 mark when Lee found the back of the net, with Bryan Rust earning the assist. Notre Dame was not done, however, as it tied the game, 3-3, 5:32 into the third period when Maday beat Cannata for the unassisted goal.
Notre Dame goaltender Mike Johnson made 32 saves, including all six in overtime, while Cannata stopped 33 shots.
The Irish outshot Merrimack, 37-35, including 17-4 in the third period.