Merrimack ends postseason drought

By Eric Mansfield

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For the first time in the last six seasons, Merrimack will compete in the Hockey East Tournament. After tying Providence 1-1 at home game Saturday, Merrimack secured the sixth seed in the eight-team tournament and will be travelling to Boston University next week to play a best of three quarterfinal which begins on Friday.

In the game against Providence, Merrimack fell behind early when Providence’s sophomore Matt Bergland scored a power-play goal at the one minute, nine second mark of the first period. This was Bergland’s 12th goal of the season. Merrimack was able to tie the game at the 4:25 mark in the first period on a one-timer by junior defenseman Adam Ross.

Merrimack outshot the Friars 16-9 from the second period on.  Though the teams ended with a tie, Merrimack outshout the Friars 38-23. Providence sophomore goaltender Alex Beaudry made 37 saves while the Warriors’ senior goaltender Andrew Braithwaite made 22 saves in his last start in front of the home crowd.

In a ceremony before the game Merrimack honored their six-member class of 2010. The players included Braithwaite, defenseman and captain Pat Bowen, defenseman Brandon Sadlowski and forwards Justin Bonitatibus, Pat Kimball and J.C. Robitaille.

Merrimack finishes the regular season with an overall record of 15-17-2 and a 12-13-2 record in the conference. Their 12 conference wins mark the most in school history, and the six seed they hold in the conference tournament is the second highest seed they have ever earned.

Vermont earns last playoff spot

Vermont played UMass Lowell to a 1-1 tie Saturday night at the Tsongas Arena at UMass Lowell. The tie clinches the final and eighth seed in next week’s HEA Tournament for the Catamounts.

The game started out on a positive note for Vermont as UMass Lowell was given a five-minute game misconduct penalty 5:23 into the game. The Catamounts were unable to take advantage of the early penalty but were able to score the game’s first goal before the end of the first period. Freshman forward Sebastian Stalberg shot it past the River Hawks’ senior goaltender Carter Hutton with just over a minute left in the first period. It was Stalberg’s sixth goal of the season.

The River Hawk’s Scott Campbell scored the game-tying goal at 7:27 into the second period on a pass from senior defenseman Jeremy Dehner. It was Campbell’s 15th goal of the season. UML would outshoot Vermont 16-6 in the second period.

For the rest of regulation and in overtime, both team’s goalies kept the puck out of the net. Hutton would finish the game with 17 saves for the River Hawks and Rob Madore would total 35 for the Catamounts. Hutton’s record would improve to 12-10-2 and Madore’s to 11-10-7.

The River Hawks doubled up on the Catamounts in shots 36-18, but did not take advantage of any of their four power-play attempts. The Catamounts could not cash in on their lone man advantage.

On Friday Vermont will visit top seeded New Hampshire and the River Hawks will travel to Maine to play the Black Bears.

BU grabs No. 3 seed

With a 4-3 win over Northeastern Saturday, Boston University was able to solidify their position as the No. 3 seed in next week’s Hockey East Tournament. Northeastern’s chances of competing in the tournament were dashed with the loss.

Kyle Kraemer, senior forward for Northeastern, led the team in his final home game with a pair of goals.

In a back-and-forth contest, Kevin Gilroy, a sophomore forward, put the game away for good for BU with his first goal of the season at the 13:32 mark of the final period.

The Terriers outshot the Huskies 42-24. Their biggest advantage came in the second period when they outshot the Huskies 16-3.

The Huskies end their season with an overall record of 16-16-2 and a conference record of 11-14-2.

With the win BU will move on to the tournament and will host Merrimack in the quarterfinals.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected]