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Maine tops Merrimack in overtime thriller at Alfond

Ed. Note — This story appears in Saturday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune

ORONO, Maine — Merrimack’s power play hasn’t allowed a shorthanded goal all season. On top of that, the Warriors have the second-best power-play percentage in Hockey East.

Last night at Alfond Arena, the Warriors essentially allowed two shorthanded goals as Maine came away with a 4-3 overtime win.

Brendan Robbins scored late in the first period to give Maine a 1-0 lead at the break, but Merrimack defenseman Marc Biega would tie the score just 3:04 into the second period. Robbins would score his second of the game on a penalty shot just over a minute later. With Merrimack on the power play, Robbins was able to poke the puck into the neutral zone and was hauled down by Brett Seney near the net, resulting in the shorthaned penalty shot for Maine.

After Seney got the goal back — on the same power play — Robbins would strike again for the hat trick, this time beating the Warriors through the middle of the rink, again while they were on the power play, and finishing a feed from Chase Pearson.

“We didn’t do a great job of getting the puck by their guys, who play pretty high (in the zone),” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “That resulted in us giving up some odd-man rushes.”

With 2:12 left in the third period and Merrimack trailing by one goal, it appeared that the Warriors scored the game-tying goal. Michael Babcock rushed the net with the puck and slid it to his backhand before either losing an edge or getting forced into Maine goatlender Jeremy Swayman. Tyler Irvine would poke the loose puck into the net but the officials immediately waived off the goal.

Then there was a standoff. Dennehy wanted the officials to look at the replay but referee Peter Schlittenhardt refused.

Dennehy would eventually use his timeout and challenge the play.

“I wanted to set up the 6-on-5, but I also wanted them to look at the play,” Dennehy said. “I thought they had it wrong. To me, it’s either contact on the goalie or it’s a goal. It’s one or the other. It’s either a penalty or a goal. The explanation was that our guy skated through the crease and didn’t allow the goalie to play the puck.”

It would end up being a moot point when Ludvig Larsson scored his ninth goal of the season with an extra-attacker on the ice.

But in overtime, the Black Bears entered the zone after winning the faceoff and Patrick Holway’s shot just 20 seconds into the extra session was the game-winner.

“We haven’t had a bounce in a while,” Dennehy said. “We really haven’t. That game is the bounce of a puck. A guy throws the puck at the net and it’s a seeing-eye goal. You play hard enough, long enough, and you’ll get those bounces back.”

Merrimack will wrap up its two-game series at Maine tonight.

Maine 4, Merrimack 3 (OT)
at Alfond Arena
Merrimack (7-15-4): 0-2-1—3
Maine (15-9-4): 1-2-0-1—4
1st Period
Scoring - 1, MNE Brendan Robbins/8 (Emil Westerlund/6) 18:32
Penalties - Bench, MNE (Too Many Players) 6:59; Jared Kolquist, MER (Hooking) 10:41; Alex Carle, MER (Hooking) 13:39; Ryan Smith, MNE (Tripping) 13:39; Sami Tavernier, MER (Hooking) 15:21
2nd Period
Scoring - 2, MER Marc Biega/5 (Alex Carle/3, Brett Seney/16) 1:08
3, MNE Brendan Robbins/9 3:04 (PS)
4, MER Brett Seney/10 (Jared Kolquist/15, Sami Tavernier/10) 4:09 (PP)
5, MNE Brendan Robbins/10 (Chase Pearson/19) 16:52 (SH)
Penalties - Rob Michel, MNE (Roughing) 2:32; Brett Seney, MER (Hooking-PS) 3:04; Brady Keeper, MNE (Interference) 3:35; Jace Hennig, MER (Cross-Checking) 8:54; Canon Pieper, MNE (Boarding) 16:31
3rd Period
Scoring - 6, MER Ludvig Larsson/9 (Marc Biega/4, Jared Kolquist/16) 18:31 (EA)
Penalties - Brendan Robbins, MNE (Cross-Checking) 9:28
Scoring - 7, MNE Patrick Holway/7 (Nolan Vesey/8, Alexis Binner/7) 0:20 (GW)
Penalties - None
Merrimack Goaltending - Craig Pantano (59:52, 28 shots, 24 saves, 4 GA); Empty Net (0:28, 0 GA)
Maine Goaltending - Jeremy Swayman (59:55, 39 shots, 36 saves, 3 GA); Empty Net (0:25, 0 GA)
Win - Jeremy Swayman, MNE (12-5-3). Loss - Craig Pantano, MER (7-10-2).
Shots On Goal - MER 9-18-12-0=39; MNE 12-10-5-1=28
Power Plays - MER 1 of 5; MNE 0 of 3
Penalties - MER 5 (10 min); MNE 6 (12 min)
New Records - Maine 15-9-4, Merrimack 7-16-4
Three Stars: 1. Brendan Robbins (Maine) 2. Brett Seney (Merrimack) 3. Jeremy Swayman (Maine)
Referees: Peter Schlittenhardt, Jay Durfee Linesmen: Jeff McCorkle, AJ Potvin
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