NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Goaltender Drew Vogler and Merrimack held off a late New Hampshire charge to earn a spot in the Hockey East quarterfinals against Providence.
Vogler made a big blocker save late, and Derek Petti and Jace Hennig scored second-period goals in the Warriors’ 2-1 victory over the Wildcats in Game 3 of a first-round series Sunday.
“Statistics don’t lie. If you spend more time in the offensive zone and get more shots on net you’ll have success,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “They’re a good team. I said to coach (Dick) Umile I thought this was as evenly matched a series as we’ve had in a long time.”
The first period saw Merrimack (13-17-7) come out for the second game in a row firing shots at Daniel Tirone from all angles.
UNH (11-20-6) nearly drew first blood when a shot was taken from the blue line that skipped past Vogler but hit the post and came out. The period ended in a scoreless tie after both goaltenders had solid performances.
The second period saw Merrimack take its largest lead of the series. Petti got things going when he sought after a loose puck and snuck it past Tirone to give Merrimack a 1-0 lead 8:01 into the period.
Ten minutes later they added to that lead when sophomore winger Hennig followed his own rebound and jammed it past Tirone to give Merrimack a 2-0 advantage heading into the final period of play.
Merrimack worked with eight minutes of power-play time in the third period, including a pair of five-on-three advantage that UNH’s penalty kill shut down to keep the deficit at two.
UNH got on the board with a goal from Matt Dawson on a wrister from the top of the slot past Vogler to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
The Wildcats had a late power play and pulled the goalie, but the Warriors held on.
“We had our chances,” Umile said. “Obviously, it was a crazy third period. They won. It was a hard-fought series; congrats to Merrimack.”