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BC, Merrimack both skate to ties on Sunday

The Merrimack hockey team needed a crucial third-period goal escape with a 2-2 tie against Providence, and maintain its one-point lead atop the Hockey East standings.

Freshman forward Vinny Scotti answered the bell for the Warriors, netting his second goal of the night 15 minutes, 4 seconds into the final frame to tie it at two apiece.

Merrimack (14-10-6, 12-6-3 Hockey East Association) was forced to play the end of the third period shorthanded following a Kyle Bigos five-minute major kneeing penalty. But Scotti created a 2-on-1 rush with fellow forward Shawn Bates and buried the shorthanded equalizer.

The Friars (11-10-7, 8-6-5 HEA) opened the game on the offensive, taking the lead one minute in on a short-side rocket by Shane Luke. The score remained at 1-0 until the Warriors tied the game in the second period on a Scotti power-play goal. But Providence quickly regained the lead following Derek Army’s 12th goal of the season.

Both teams benefitted from strong goaltending. Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta and Friar netminder Jon Gillies saved 24 shots apiece, including a scoreless overtime period.

Providence hosts Northeastern Friday, while Merrimack hosts Boston College in a marquee Sunday matchup.

BC ties Wildcats

Boston College remained one point ahead of New Hampshire for second in the conference standings following a 4-4 tie Sunday afternoon.

The No. 4 Eagles (17-8-3, 12-7-2 HEA) battled back from a 4-3 deficit to tie the score on a Bill Arnold goal with 11;59 remaining in the third period.

Steven Whitney opened the scoring for the Eagles, netting the opening goal at 8:57 of the first period. But the No. 5 Wildcats (16-8-4, 11-7-3 HEA) answered quickly in an unconventional manner. Eric Knodel fired a shot from center-ice which slipped by Eagles goaltender Parker Milner (29 saves), with just 1:01 left in the first period.

The teams traded goals until BC got consecutive goals from Michael Matheson and Pat Mullane to make it 3-2 Eagles early in the third period. But the Wildcats answered with a pair of goals before allowing the equalizer to Arnold.

UNHgoalie Casey Desmith recorded 22 saves, while Dan Correale and Grayson Downing amassed two points each.

The Wildcats travel to Vermont to take on the Catamounts on Friday.

BU edges Maine in OT

Matt Nieto elevated Boston University to a 5-4 victory over Maine, scoring with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime to secure an important Hockey East victory.

The Terriers (14-12-2, 11-7-2 HEA) squandered a three-goal third period lead, forcing a dramatic overtime performance. But an awkward ricochet off the boards created a breakaway opportunity for Nieto, who buried a shot past Black Bears goalie Martin Ouellette.

Maine’s (8-16-6, 4-11-6 HEA) comeback effort fell short despite a furious third period performance that culminated into a Steven Swavely goal with 39 seconds remaining.             Trailing 4-1, the Blackbears got goals from Joey Diamond and Devin Shore, which set up Swavely’s late-game heroics.

Maine started the scoring after Ryan Lomberg netted his sixth goal of the season. But four straight BU goals, two by Danny O’Regan, opened up a sizable third period lead.

The Terriers host UMass Lowell Friday night while Maine plays at UMass both Friday and Saturday.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@student.umass.edu and followed on twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

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