NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Merrimack freshman Hampus Gustafsson scored the tiebreaking goal on the power play with 9:23 left in the third period as the Warriors took a close, 3-1 win over the Bentley University hockey team in a non-conference matchup at Lawler Rink Friday night.
In what was a back-and-forth contest between the two teams that was tied 1-1 past the midway point of the third period, Gustafsson's goal was the difference.
Bentley was called for a five minute major penalty to set up Merrimack for a lengthy power play. The Warriors won the ensuing draw in Bentley's defensive zone and Gustafsson was in the right position to corral the loose puck and score the go-ahead goal just seconds into the power play.
Trailing 2-1 the Falcons though went on the power play with 2:24 remaining, and goalie Branden Komm (Williamsville, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon) was pulled with 1:10 left for a 6-on-4 advantage. Merrimack was then called for another penalty with 1:00 left, giving Bentley a brief 6-on-3 advantage.
Bentley though couldn't capitalize and as time was running down Merrimack junior defenseman Dan Kolomatis flung the puck from his own end into the empty Bentley net to seal the 3-1 victory for the Warriors.
After a scoreless opening period, Merrimack broke through with the game's first goal at 11:15 of the second from junior Quinn Gould, his third of the season. Sophomore Brian Christie won a battle along the boards for the puck and fed Gould a pass out in front, allowing him to beat Komm glove side for a 1-0 lead on just Merrimack's eighth shot of the game.
Bentley then ran into penalty trouble with two calls going against them just nine seconds apart, giving the Warriors a two-man advantage for 1:51. The Falcons' penalty kill excelled though and killed it off, combined with a great glove by Komm on a shot in the slot.
Late in the second the Falcons broke a goalless drought that lasted more than five periods when Alex Grieve (Calgary, Alberta/Westside Warriors) found the back of the net with just 16 seconds remaining. On a broken play Brett Gensler (St. Charles, Mo./Youngstown Phantoms) hit Grieve out in front, and Grieve was on target through goalie Rasmus Tirronen's five-hole to tie the game at one.
Merrimack ended up with a 25-22 advantage in shots after outshooting Bentley 12-8 in the decisive third period. Komm made 22 saves.
The loss drops Bentley's record to 1-6, while the Warriors improve their record to 3-3. Bentley is right back on the ice Saturday night when they head to West Point, N.Y., to take on Atlantic Hockey rival Army. The puck drops at 7:05 pm.