Wednesday, January 6, 2016. 7pm @ Sullivan Arena, St. Anselm College, Goffstown, NH – Merrimack @ Goffstown
Maybe it was just me, or then maybe it was a let down from the holiday season ending, but the game seemed to lack its’ new game shine. The season is young and both teams entered the game without suffering a loss in Division II regular season play. In the end, Merrimack earned a road win in Goffstown, by beating the Grizzlies 2-0.
Let’s get to the action. The first period went quickly. There were few whistles. There were few reasons to stop play. Goffstown would only get two shots through to Merrimack goaltender, Greg Amato, and he made both saves. Merrimack did get 7 shots on goal, and Goffstown’s Colin Holt made 6 of 7 save opportunities. With 8:07 left in the opening period, Merrimack scored on an excellent passing play that left Jeff Gerhard wide open, in front of an open side of the net. Remy Tupper made a pass to his brother, Aaron Tupper, who fed the puck across the crease area where Gerhard scored. Goffstown did kill the only penalty they were whistled for, when Kainen Lassonde was called for elbowing. After one period, Merrimack led 1-0.
In the second period the play from both teams picked up some. There was a lot of back and forth hockey with both teams trying to get pucks deep and then create turnovers on the forecheck. With 5:40 left in the middle period, Merrimack broke out on a 3-on-2 break. The play ended with Colin Holt making a very nice save, getting the pads closed, to deny the shot aimed at the five-hole. A few minutes later Merrimack forward, Tucker Twardosky was whistled for a five-minute major boarding penalty. Goffstown was on the man advantage when Merrimack’s Ryan Downie blew in all alone on a tremendous short-handed opportunity and rang a shot over Holt’s right shoulder and off of the post, up where it meets the crossbar. Then with less than a minute to play in the period, Sam Greenwood, Grizzlie Co-Captain, was called for slashing. This penalty cut 2-minutes off of the Goffstown power play, still in effect from the major penalty. Neither team would score in the period, and Merrimack outshot Goffstown 7-6 in the period.
The third period started with the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey for 1:17. Goffstown definitely took more chances to make plays in the third period, and they would end up getting 13 shots on goal in the final stanza. John Tiano was called for slashing, putting Goffstown on the power play. Goffstown got some chances, but before they could cash in, Colin Burke was called for interference, nullifying the power play. Goffstown and Merrimack would exchange chances for the balance of the period, but nothing gave. Then with 1:16 to play, John Tiano broke free in front of the net, and looked like he’d certainly score a goal, when all of a sudden, goalie, Colin Holt poke checked the puck off of Tiano’s stick and the opportunity to score was gone. Goffstown called their time out, and prepared to pull Holt from the net, still trailing 1-0. After a couple of failed attempts to get out of their own end, the Grizzlies carried the puck up ice. Holt bolted to the bench for the extra attacker. Sam Greenwood, who missed a shift or two earlier in the game with an upper body injury, got the best chance of the period and ripped a shot toward the net. The shot rose maybe a foot off of the ice, but not high enough to clear the right pad of Greg Amato in the Merrimack net. The save was made with 0:33 seconds left to play. Goffstown would get some chances at rebounds and heavy traffic in front of the net before Aaron Tupper would get the puck to Jeff Gerhard, again, and Gerhard put the puck into the empty net with 0:20.1 left to play. Holt would return to the net, and Merrimack would hold the lead. Merrimack improved to 3-0 in Division II hockey play by virtue of their 2-0 win. Greg Amato saved 21 of 21 shots to earn the win for Merrimack. Colin Holt saved 20 0f 21 shots in the loss. Goffstown dropped to 3-1 on the season.
Goffstown returns to the ice at Sullivan Arena on Saturday evening at 7:30pm when they host Timberlane Regional High School.