Lanny Gare scored a career-high four goals to lead seventh-ranked New Hampshire to Saturday night’s 8-3 victory against Merrimack at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which had 12 skaters record a point — 10 of whom had a multiple-point game — is now 13-4-2 overall and 7-2-1 in the conference while Merrimack is now 7-7-3, 4-4-1.
Leading 3-1 through two periods, the Wildcats outscored the visitors 5-2 in the final frame. Gare scored 34 seconds into the stanza to extend UNH’s lead to 4-1, but the Warriors’ Matt Johnson trimmed the deficit to two goals at 3:59.
Gare, who became the first Wildcat to score four goals in a game since Jason Krog in 1999, scored a power-play goal at 6:46 and struck again for his fourth goal of the night at 11:01 to give the ‘Cats a 6-2 cushion.
Merrimack pulled goaltender Joe Exter at that point, but Preston Callander scored 1:30 later for a 7-2 Wildcat advantage.
UNH pulled Michael Ayers with that five-goal lead and Jeff Pietrasiak stopped four shots and allowed a Brent Gough goal (15:20) the remainder of the way.
Warrior backup goalie Casey Guenther surrendered two goals, including the last of the game by Callander with 2:02 remaining, and was credited with three saves.
Steve Saviano gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead 4:21 into the game when his shot from the right circle deflected off a defenseman in the slot and ricocheted into the net.
Merrimack tied the game, 1-1, on an Eric Pedersen power-play goal at 6:02. Pedersen fired a shot through traffic from the top of the slot.
New Hampshire broke a 1-1 tie on second-period goals by Sean Collins at 13:13 and Gare at 14:15.