NORTH ANDOVER — Entering the night, the Merrimack College Warriors had power-play goals in 12 consecutive games. For a majority of the night, it looked as if that streak would come to an end at the hands of Vermont on Saturday; but two power-play tallies in the span of 2:32 pumped life into the Warriors as they escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Catamounts.
A back and forth opening 20 minutes with no score sure seemed like a win for Scott Borek and the Warriors as they had surrendered the opening goal of the previous two games with Vermont.
“That was a challenge we faced with the three games in a row against the same team. They played really hard and really well.” said Borek following his teams come from behind win.
Vermont held an edge in shots on goal after the first period 16-10, where Zachary Borgiel was strong when his team needed him to be.
Vermont would once again, for the third consecutive game, pick up the opening goal of the game on Joel Maatta’s first collegiate goal in the 2nd period at 8:13 to give the visitors the 1-0 lead. A lead they would take down the tunnel to the dressing room after 40 minutes.
The Catamounts would double the lead early in the 3rd period on another first collegiate goal this time off the stick of Porter Schachle. Joe Leahy made a stretch pass from his defensive blue line and Schacle fired it over the stick side of Borgiel at 3:27 in the third.
The Warriors would then turn up the tempo and be rewarded as the time in regulation started to dwindle down.
After a holding call against UVM’s Will Zapernick with 6:30 to go the Merrimack power play hopped over the boards looking to cut into the deficit. With 50 seconds to go in their second extra-man chance on the night, they were rewarded.
Max Newton fired the original shot on the cage, Vermont goalie Gabe Carriere made the original save but the rebound was put directly onto the stick of Alex Jefferies, the hero on Friday night with the game-winner in the third. The goal would be Jefferies’ 8th of the season and third against Vermont in as many games.
Just over two minutes following the goal by Jefferies, Vermont would once again find themselves with an important kill after a slashing call against Schachle, and the potent power play climbed over looking for the equalizer with 4:37 remaining.
It only took 49 seconds into this opportunity for the power play to get this game back to even for Merrimack.
“They got the game back for us. I thought about pulling the goalie on the first one, then thought they could ice the puck and that could end the game because they are up by two.” said Borek on his special teams decisions late in the game.
Steven Jandric (7), while setting a screen, got a piece of a shot from the point by Zach Vinnell that went blocker side by Carriere, which turned a 2-0 Vermont lead to 2-2 game in 2:31 late in the game.
There would be no more scoring in regulation despite a heavy push by the home team, and this one headed for the extra frame.
The Warriors outshot Vermont in overtime 5-0, as they seemed to have control of the puck the entire length of time.
It was at 2:43 of overtime when Jefferies (9) would play the role of hero once again as he took a give and go from Zach Uens, was able to kick the puck up to his stick and slide it past the Vermont netminder.
“He wants to be in those situations, and he thrives in those situations.” said Scott Borek on Jefferies performance.
Borgiel made 27 saves on the night and collects victory number seven on the season. Gabe Carriere made 28 saves in the loss for Vermont.
Despite the win, with other results around the league, the Warriors drop to fourth place in Hockey East and fall to 20th in the Pairwise.
They are back in action on Saturday, February 26th when they visit Durham, N.H. to take on the UNH Wildcats for the second time this season. Puck drop at the Whittemore Center is at 7:00. They will return home Saturday, March 5th for senior night in the second of a home-and-home with Northeastern.
You can follow Ian Beauchesne on Twitter @IanBeau
Merrimack 3, Vermont 2 (OT) at Lawler Arena Vermont (6-21-2): 0-1-1-0--2 Merrimack (17-12-1): 0-0-2-1--3 First Period: None. Second Period: 1. UVM Joel Maatta 1 (Joe Leahy, Porter Schachie), ev, 8:13. Third Period: 2. UVM Porter Schachie 1 (Joe Leahy, Ray Vitolins), ev, 3:27; 3. MC Alex Jefferies 8 (Max Newton, Steven Jandric), pp, 13:40; 4. MC Steven Jandric 7 (Zach Vinnell, Max Newton), pp, 16:12. Overtime: 5. MC Alex Jefferies 9 (Zach Uens, Steven Jandric), e, 2:43. Shots: Merrimack 10-11-5-5--31; Vermont 16-5-8-0--29 Saves: MC Borgiel (62:43) 27/29; UVM Carriere (62:16) 28/31 Penalties: Merrimack 4-8:00; Vermont 3-6:00 Power Play: Merrimack 2 for 3; Vermont 0 for 4 Attendance: 1,689