Merrimack falls to national champs in overtime

AMHERST, Mass. — Ben Brar scored with less than one minute left in regulation to force the game to overtime and guarantee at least a point for Merrimack. But a penalty at the end of the third period put the Minutemen on the power play, and UMass converted to finish the weekend home-and-home series with an overtime win over the Warriors last night at the Mullins Center.

UMass won the first game of the series, 2-1, on Friday night when Colin Felix scored with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.

“I was happy with the way our team came back in the third,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “We came back from down one goal twice. Two nights in a row I felt like we deserved a better fate. The fate wasn’t with us, and we just need to move forward. … We got better this weekend through this series.”

Under new NCAA rules, all regular-season games go to a 3-on-3 overtime. For purposes of the Pairwise -  the criteria that selects the NCAA Tournament field - this overtime game will count as 55 percent of a win for the Minutemen and 45 percent of a win for Merrimack.

In Hockey East, all games are now worth three full points. A regulation win is worth all three points. Last night, UMass earned two points for the regulation victory and the Warriors came away with one point in the Hockey East standings.

Steven Jandric, a transfer from Denver, scored his first two goals as a Warrior. Jandric opened the scoring at the 5:51 mark of the first period and he scored again just 52 seconds into the third period to make the game, at the time, 3-3. Matt Baker scored for the Minutemen to give them a 4-3 lead with 11 minutes left, but Brar scored the equalize with just 47 seconds left in regulation with the extra attacker on the ice. Brar stuffed in a rebound at the net front.

“That’s a big goal,” Borek said. “When you score like that on a 6-on-5 it gives you belief. It makes you believe that you’re going to score the next time you pull the goalie. A lot of times, when you pull the goalie, you’ll see that even the players aren’t really believing, they’re just hoping. Our team really believes right now.”

UMass was put on the power play at the 20-minute mark of the third period when Zach Uens was called for goaltender interference. Scott Morrow found the back of the net as the last seconds ticked off on the 4-on-3 power play. 

“I thought both teams played hard,” Borek said, “and I thought both teams played clean. I have a lot of respect for the way (UMass) plays and I have a lot of respect for the way those two games were both played.”

The Warriors had a 2-0 lead at the first intermission and outshot UMass 14-3 in the opening period, but the defending national champions put up three goals in the second period to take a lead after two periods. 

“We got a little loose in the second period,” Borek said. “We were really good in the first. We should have been prepared for them to come after us in the second, and they did. 

Game Notes

Merrimack wore their road blue jerseys and UMass wore their home white shirts. … Logan Drevitch scored in both games this weekend for the Warriors. … Jandric’s two goals were his first two goals scored as a Warrior after he transferred this past summer from Denver. … Filip Forsmark had two assists. … Ben Brar scored his fourth goal of the season. His current career-high is five goals (his freshman season). He’s one goal shy of that mark after just eight games.

UMass 5, Merrimack 4 (OT)
at Mullins Center
Merrimack (3-3-0-2): 2-1-1-0—4
Massachusetts (3-2-1-0): 0-3-1-1—5
First Period: 1. MC Steven Jandric (Filip Forsmark, Liam Walsh), ev, 5:51; 2. MC Logan Drevitch (Filip Forsmark, Zach Vinnell), pp, 12:23.
Second Period: 3. UMA Garrett Wait (Bobby Trivigno, Reed Lebster), pp, 3:59; 4. UMA Garrett Wait (Matthew Kessel, Anthony Del Gaizo), ev, 16:36; 5. UMA Cal Kiefiuk (Reed Lebster, Scott Morrow), ev, 19:07.
Third Period: 6. MC Steven Jandric (unassisted), ev, 0:52; 7. UMA Matt Baker (Oliver MacDOnald), ev, 8:58; 8. MC Ben Brar (Declan Carlile, Liam Wash), ex, 19:12.
Overtime: 9. UMA Scott Morrow (Cal Kiefiuk), pp, 1:58.
Shots: Merrimack 14-10-12-0—36 ; UMass 3-13-7-3—26
Saves: MC Borgiel (61:40) 21/26; UMA Murray (61:40) 32/36
Power Play: Merrimack 1 for 4; UMass 2 for 4
Penalties: Merrimack 4-8:00; UMass 4-8:00
Attendance (capacity): 3,477 (8,387)

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