ORONO, Maine — For 48:48, Merrimack and Maine played scoreless hockey on Saturday night at Alfond Arena.
Then, the floodgates opened.
Five goals in the final 13 minutes, including overtime, saw the Black Bears take a 3-2 win from the Warriors on senior night. Daniel Perez scored the game-winner for Maine after Merrimack struck twice with an extra attacker inside of the final two minutes.
At the 8:48 mark of the third, Maine’s Will Merchant entered the zone and turned, snapping a shot on Drew Vogler from the right circle. Vogler made the initial stop through traffic — a tough save — but the rebound bounced to the left side and Steve Swavely backhanded the bouncing puck out of mid-air.
The Black Bears would double that lead about six minutes later on the power play. Much like the first goal, Vogler makes a very good save moving to his left near the post with Maine. The rebound goes into slot and sneaks behind the defense, where Cam Brown corrals it and finds room, using the D as a screen, to snipe a shot past Vogler.
The Warriors would respond, first with 1:43 left on the clock. With Vogler on the bench for the extra attacker, Brett Seney dished the puck to Derek Petti behind the Maine net. Petti found Chris LeBlanc for the one-timer from the right circle that beat McGovern.
Then again with the extra attacker, Jared Kolquist knocked down a clear attempt at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone. He takes one step and immediately takes a shot from the middle of the zone that Brett Seney tipped in front to tie the score with 22 seconds remaining.
“We knew we had a net-front presence,” Dennehy said, “so I think (Kolquist) was shooting.”
It was Merrimack’s fourth extra-attacker goal in three weekends, as the Warriors also scored late to earn a point with UConn and BC on consecutive weekends.
“(The extra-attacker goals) are good and bad,” Dennehy said. “It means we are trailing. But a lot of it comes off our power play. We have similar guys out there and they know where they need to be.”
In the overtime, Vogler again made a stop near the left post on an initial shot from the point. Then after a scrum in front, Daniel Perez was able to poke a rebound past Vogler to give Maine the victory after a review by the officials.
“I was trying to blind the goalie’s eyes in front of the net,” Perez said. “Then I saw the puck here and just tried to poke it in and I think it went five-hole. I didn’t know it went in, I just saw the guys celebrating and then I started celebrating too.”
The win was especially satisfying for the Black Bears on senior night, also it came just one night after Maine fell behind 5-1 before a valiant effort to come back fell just one goal short. Maine head coach Red Gendron was also awarded a contract extension on Friday.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Gendron said. “It keeps us alive in this race in the Hockey East standings. We move forward. But it’s a huge thing. People come here (to play) and this is a great place to play. Everything is magnificent. We’re well supported by the school and donors. Maine hockey is a big deal. But kids that play here for four years they give a lot too.
“The players on our hockey team, almost to a man are magnificent students. They’re in the community. They do public service. For them to have, potentially their last hockey memory at Alfond Arena, to be a vicotry, that means everything to me personally.”