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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Merrimack headed back home battling for a home-ice playoff bid against Vermont after a split with Maine last weekend.
The game was a defensive battle that saw Merrimack open up offensively and take the 4-1 win Friday night.
“I thought we did some good things tonight,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “I thought the first 50 minutes were really solid and we didn’t give away much. We capatilized on a couple of our opportunities and did a good job of controlling the puck.”
The first period was a battle of the goaltenders as Merrimack’s Drew Vogler made 11 saves in the period. Vermont’s Packy Munson was just as good stopping 13 shots.
Merrimack’s offensive opportunities came from their fourth line of Derek Petti, Michael Babcock and Chris LeBlanc, who sustained pressure in the offensive zone throughout the period.
“I think they were plus-10 in the first period in shot differential,” said Dennehy. “At that point as a coach, you want to put them on the ice as much as you can. They all bring something a little different to the table.”
The second period saw Merrimack break the ice with a pair of goals after generating multiple offensive chances. LeBlanc got things started off when he scored going left to right to beat Munson up high, giving Merrimack the early 1-0 lead.
After getting out of the penalty box, Babcock rushed up the ice, making a pass to teammate Hampus Gustafsson, who then made a cross-ice pass to Justin Hussar who tipped it in to add insurance and a 2-0 lead.
The third period saw the most offense of the the entire game as Merrimack buried two and Vermont recorded one of its own.
Ben Bahe fired one hone 3:24 into the period on the power play as he walked in and shot one short side to give Merrimack the 3-0 lead. Vermont tied things up later in the period when Brady Shaw fired a puck on net that took a weird bounce and got past Vogler to cut the lead to 3-1.
With just over two minutes to go in the period, Jonathan Lashyn fired a puck on net that got past the blocker side of Munson to ice the game.