BURLINGTON, Vt. – Led by a career-high 48-save performance from freshman goaltender Léa-Kristine Demers (Repentigny, Quebec) and the game-winning tally in the third period from sophomore Madison Morey (Fairbanks, Alaska), the Merrimack College women’s ice hockey team battled back with three unanswered goals to top Vermont in its regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon, 3-2. With the win, the Warriors keep their hopes of their first-ever Hockey East playoff berth alive.
Hockey East Playoff Picture:
With a Maine loss OR tie at Boston University on Sunday, Merrimack would clinch its first-ever Hockey East playoff berth and would play at Boston College next weekend in the quarterfinals. If Maine wins Sunday, they would clinch the eight-spot in the conference playoffs.
Maine plays at Boston University Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Score: Merrimack 3, Vermont 2
Records: Merrimack (11-20-3, 7-17-0 HEA) | Vermont (13-12-9, 9-8-7 HEA)
Location: Gutterson Fieldhouse | Burlington, Vt.
How It Happened
- Just like in Friday night’s contest in Vermont, the Warriors would be tasked with coming from behind on the road to register a victory. The Catamounts would take the first lead of the game just before the midway point of the first period, cleaning up a rebound to go ahead 1-0. They would stretch that lead to two goals just four minutes later, putting the Warriors in an early hole in a game they required at least a tie to remain in playoff contention.
- Just as she did in Friday’s contest, sophomore Paige Voight (St. Michael, Minn.) would give the Warriors a spark after going down two, putting Merrimack on the board just over two minutes after Vermont’s second with a rocket of a shot to cut the deficit to one at 15:37 of the first.
- With a delayed penalty being called on Vermont in the final minute of the period and Demers out of the goal during the delayed call, freshman Mikyla Grant-Mentis (Brampton, Ontario) would make a nifty move around a defender to get the puck deep, then found sophomore Dominique Kremer (West Fargo, N.D.) at the point who fired a shot by the goaltender to even the score at 2-2 with just 31 seconds remaining in the period.
- The scoring would come to a halt in a scoreless second period, but not due to a lack of shots in the frame. Merrimack and Vermont would combine for 28 shots in the frame, including a near goal on a scrum in the crease for the Warriors and a 2-on-1 chance for the Catamounts that was robbed by Demers, but the 2-2 tie would hold and the Warriors playoff chances would come down to one final period.
- Vermont would be heavily favored in possession and shots on goal in the final period, but Demers would save one of her best periods of the year for the final period in the final regular season game of her rookie campaign. The freshman made a staggering 23 stops in the frame, including some of the highlight variety, to keep Vermont of the board in the third.
- The Warriors would find a bit of momentum in the final 10 minutes of the game, getting some offensive zone time and creating a handful of offensive chances. Merrimack would capitalize on one of those chances, as Morey would get to the net and clean up a rebound for the third unanswered goal and the lead with less than five minutes to play. Demers would make stop a late flurry of shots from Vermont to hold on for the huge victory.
Inside The Numbers
- Morey has had a flare for the dramatic against the Catamounts this season. Of her four goals on the year, two of them are game-winning scores, and both of which came against Vermont. She scored the overtime game-winner in Merrimack’s 2-1 win over the Catamounts in early January.
- Voight registered a goal in each of the final two games of the season, and registered a point in nine of Merrimack’s final 13 games. She finishes the regular season with new career-highs of 15 goals and 26 points, both ranking second on the team.
- Grant-Mentis registered a point in 10 of 12 games to finish her rookie regular season, posting six goals and seven assists in that span.
- Goaltenders: W – Demers (8-14-1, 48 saves) | L – Litchfield (8-6-6, 29 saves)
- Power Plays: Merrimack (0-2) | UVM (0-4)
- SOG: MC – 32 | UVM – 50
With a Maine loss OR tie at Boston University on Sunday, Merrimack would clinch its first-ever Hockey East playoff berth and would play at Boston College next weekend in the quarterfinals.
Mike McMahon has covered Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune since 2006 and he also has been a senior writer at College Hockey News since 2005.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN and you can follow the site @TheMackReports.