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Merrimack comes from behind to beat No. 5 UMass in overtime
NORTH ANDOVER — Ben Brar’s goal with 1:23 left in overtime gave Merrimack a 2-1 win over No. 5 UMass on Saturday night at Lawler Arena. The teams traded OT wins on the weekend after the Minutemen took a 3-2 overtime decision on Friday night at the Mullins Center.
Brar’s goal came after Merrimack goaltender Hugo Ollas played a loose puck in the Merrimack end. He slid it across the zone to defenseman Slava Demin and then Demin found Brar going hard down the right side.
Brar cut to the front of the net and wrapped the puck around the pad of UMass goaltender Cole Brady
“We had chances all night,” Brar said. “We just knew we had to trust each other and keep working and we would find something. On the goal, I saw that I was going out against a forward and I thought I could get a step so I just took it to the far side and tried to make a hard, heavy play.”
Brar wasn’t the only hero.
The Warriors trailed 1-0 with one minute left when the Warriors called a timeout and drew up a play with the faceoff coming in the offensive zone. Fellow senior Mac Welsher was tasked with taking the faceoff. He won possession and when Alex Jefferies’ shot was blocked, Welsher was there to collect the puck at the left circle and he found space past Brady with 32 seconds left in regulation to tie the score.
“It started with the faceoff,” Welsher said. “I knew what I had to do. I had to win that one. I’m happy Coach put me out there in that situation. We all just tried to take advantage of the moment. If it wasn’t going to be me, it was going to be someone else because we were all over them in the third period. I’m just happy with the result.”
After a scoreless first period, UMass took a 1-0 lead early in the second period.
Reed Lebster blocked a shot from the point and then split the defensemen on a breakaway coming back the other way. He went high glove to beat Ollas.
The score remained 1-0 until Welsher and Brar sent the 2,533 fans inside Lawler Arena home happy.
“It was a really good college hockey game,” said Merrimack coach Scott Borek. “It’s always a battle when we play them. I liked how our team stayed in it. In the third period, we had a ton of chances. Credit to their defense and their goalie. But we stuck with it and that’s something I think, sometimes, we haven’t been good at staying with it in those situations. I was really impressed tonight with the way our guys kept playing.”
Merrimack will host Boston College on Thursday night back at Lawler Arena.
Ed. Note — Portions of this story will appear in Sunday’s Eagle Tribune
Merrimack 2, UMass 1 (OT) at Lawler Arena Merrimack (3-2-1-1): 0-0-1-1--2 Massachusetts (4-0-1-1): 0-1-0-0--1 First Period: None. Second Period: 1. UMA Reed Lebster 3 (Linden Alger, Josh Nodler), ev, 3:15. Third Period: 2. MC Mac Welsher 3 (Alex Jefferies), ea, 19:28. Overtime: 3. MC Ben Brar 3 (Slava Demin, Hugo Ollas), ev, 3:37. Shots: MC 12-5-15-2--34 ; UMA 6-8-5-0--19 Saves: MC Ollas (63:37) 18/19 ; UMA Brady (63:37) 32/34 Power Play: Merrimack ; UMass Penalties: Merrimack ; UMass Attendance: 2,533