Brett Seney scored two goals to lead Merrimack past Quinnipiac, 3-1, at High Point Solutions Arena on Saturday night.
“We responded well,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “I thought that was one of the best games we’ve played all year long and you have to in this barn against a good team.”
Hampus Gustafsson also scored for the Warriors and Collin Delia stopped 24 shots to improve to 4-3-1 on the season.
“I’m just really disappointed in our effort,” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “We had a lot of kids that were really good tonight and we had a chunk that just stunk and weren’t ready to play. It’s tough to beat a top 20 team when you have that many guys who are struggling.”
Sam Anas scored the lone goal for Quinnipiac. Sean Lawrence made 18 saves in the losing effort, as he fell to 1-2-1.
“[Lawrence] was OK,” said Pecknold. “It was a good experience for him and he’ll learn and get better.”
The teams traded goals in the opening period. Seney put the Warriors ahead with his ninth goal of the season. Chris Leblanc picked up the puck on the sideboards and shot it toward the Quinnipiac net. After Lawrence made the initial save, Seney got to the rebound and pulled it around Lawrence’s pad and into the goal.
Anas tied the score on a power play late in the period. After sustained pressure in the offensive zone, Matthew Peca passed the puck to Anas, who was positioned to the left of the Merrimack net. Anas then one-timed the shot past Delia for the goal.
Quinnipiac’s offense and power play struggled with the exception of Anas’ goal, going 1-for-6 on the night.
Dennehy credited his team’s defense for its attention to detail. “[Quinnipiac is] good in transition and I thought we did a really good job at not allowing them to carry the puck into the zone,” said Dennehy. “We forced them to dump and we did a real good job on the break out. I think it was just attention to detail more than anything.”
The teams skated to a scoreless second period, with Quinnipiac outshooting Merrimack 12-5.
Merrimack controlled play in the third period, outshooting Quinnipiac 8-5 and netting two goals.
“We liked it five-on-five and crowding the ice,” said Dennehy. “Obviously they’re a really skilled team and they probably wanted a little more ice out there so it didn’t behoove to get involved in any of that stuff after the whistles. But that’s hockey. I thought we did a pretty good job at staying focused and staying out of it.”
Seney broke the tie 5:45 into the third period. Clayton Jardine picked up the puck and skated toward the neutral zone. Seney stepped out of the penalty box and joined Jardine on a two-on-one rush into Quinnipiac’s zone. After receiving the pass from Jardine, Seney shot the puck at the Quinnipiac net. The puck then deflected off the stick of the Quinnipiac defenseman and into the top corner of the goal behind Lawrence.
Gustafsson’s goal capped the scoring with just over two and a half minutes remaining in regulation. While on a power play, Gustafsson picked up a loose puck and moved toward the slot area of the offensive zone, where he snapped a shot by the glove of Lawrence and into the net.