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Welsher's hat trick helps Merrimack beat UNH
NORTH ANDOVER — Mac Welsher couldn’t pinpoint the last time he scored a hat trick, but he knows it’s been a while.
“I wouldn’t say I had a lot of goals in juniors, but I had a fair amount,” Welsher joked. “But, I never scored a hat trick. Honsetly, it’s been a long time. I played Double-A growing up, so probably back then.”
Welsher scored his first career NCAA hat trick on Friday night, helping the Warriors to a 5-2 win over New Hampshire at Lawler Arena. The Wildcats entered Friday’s game having won five of their last six games (the Warriors entered the night on an identical streak).
The win moved Merrimack to No. 16 nationally in the Pairwise rankings and the Warriors are now tied for fifth in the Hockey East standings with Providence (27 points). But, the Warriors have two games in hand on the Friars and they hold the tie-breaker.
The Warriors actually fell behind in Friday’s game when Luke Reid scored for UNH with 1:14 left in the first period. Alex Jefferies scored on the power play at the 3:18 mark of the second period to tie the game and then Welsher scored his first goal of the game just 38 seconds later to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.
“My whole line, we added Seyfert to it and I’ve been with Ben (Brar) for a little bit,” Welsher said. “We just had a good pace to our game all night. We knew if we played physical below the dots good things were going to happen.
“Seyfert made a play coming out of the corner and I looked up and I just I saw Benny (Brar) at the other blue line and no one else in sight. I looked to pass it up to him at first, but there was so much room I just took off and looked off Benny and took a shot.”
Welsher scored again 10 minutes later, taking a feed from Steven Jandric behind the net and finding room to take a shot from the slot.
“Mac played so well,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “To his credit, I think he’s been a little frustrated with his lack of scoring. He wanted to contribute more, but he continued to play well in every other area of his game. It was great to see him get rewarded tonight. The whole bench reacted when that last puck went in. Mac’s the type of guy who doesn’t ask for much, and he gives you a ton. Everyone on our team knows it. It was special to see him have that night tonight.”
UNH got back within a goal on the power play after Filip Forsmark was given a major and game misconduct for a contact to the head penalty. But Zach Vinnell made it 4-2 a few minutes later and Welsher added an empty-netter to finish off the hat trick in the final seconds.
The Warriors have now won six of their last seven games for the first time since February of 2013.
“I didn’t talk up (Merrimack) hyperbolically,” said UNH head coach Mike Souza. “I think they’re playing really well. They do a lot of good things and they have some high-end players. I give all the credit to them, they deserved to win that game.
“(Merrimack) is as good a team as we’ve seen all year, to be honest. I mean that. I really like the way that they play. They play hard, they’re in your face and they play for each other. They’re a confident group, and they deserve to be.”
GAME NOTES: Max Newton has points in eight of his last nine games. Newton is on pace for 35 points this season, which would be the most by a Warrior since Mike Collins scored 38 points in 2013. … Shot attempts were 57-47 for the Warriors. … UNH finished with 15 blocked shots, the Warriors blocked eight UNH shots; Liam Dennison led the Warriors with two blocks. … Zach Vinnell led all players with seven shot attempts.
NEXT: Merrimack will host Maine on Saturday night at Lawler Arena (7 p.m.). The Black Bears were shutout by BU, 4-0, on Friday. UNH will head home to take on Connecticut at 7:30 Saturday night.
Ed. Note — This story will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
Merrimack 5, New Hampshire 2 at Lawler Arena New Hampshire (12-12-1): 1-1-0--2 Merrimack (13-11-1): 0-3-2--5 First Period: 1. UNH Luke Reid 3 (Kalle Eriksson, Tyler Ward), ev, 18:46. Second Period: 2. MC Alex Jefferies 4 (Logan Drevitch, Zach Vinnell), pp, 3:18; 3. MC Mac Welsher 4 (unassisted), ev, 3:56; 4. MC Mac Welsher 5 (Steven Jandric), ev, 13:48; 5. UNH Robert Cronin 5 (Eric MacAdams, Tyler Ward), pp, 17:32. Third Period: 6. MC Zach Vinnell 4 (Max Newton, Adam Arvedsson), pp, 2:22; 7. MC Mac Welsher 6 (), shg/eng, 19:26. Shots: Merrimack 6-9-9--24; UNH 7-8-9--24 Saves: MC Borgiel (60:00) 22/24; UNH Robinson (56:47) 19/23 Power Play: Merrimack 2 for 5; New Hampshire 1 for 6 Penalties: Merrimac 8-27:00; UNH 7-14:00 Faceoffs: 26-22 Merrimack Attendance: 2,177 (2,549)