Final, Notre Dame 4-3: Carter Madsen turned the puck over behind the Merrimack net, and Anders Lee sent it toward Joe Cannata. It took a weird bounce and found a home in the net to give Notre Dame the victory.
Overtime, 15:00, 3-3: Merrimack is still controlling the play, which makes for a much more entertaining game because the Warriors play at a fast pace. For some reason, Merrimack defenseman Kyle Bigos turned his stick into a vacuum while bringing the puck through the neutral zone. He had Bobby Kramer streaking toward the blue line directly in front of him, but Bigos wouldn't pass it, instead opting to take the puck in and set up the play himself. Kramer would have had a breakaway if Bigos made the smart play.
Overtime, 18:01, 3-3: Merrimack led an onslaught to start OT, and it had several chances to bury the puck into an empty net. But it didn't get the bounces it needed to get a stick in the right spot.
Overtime, 19:59, 3-3: The extra session has started, and Merrimack has to figure this thing out after giving away a two-goal lead. The winner, of course, plays UNH on Sunday night.
End of regulation, 3-3: Stephane Da Costa created a couple of opportunities, including one on the penalty kill, but no one found the back of the net. The game slowed down in a big way in the third period, mostly because Notre Dame took control of the flow. If the pace stays like that, this game might go all night.
Third period, 3:08, 3-3: This has been Notre Dame's period for the most part, and the Irish have a power play coming up after Bobby Kramer took a penalty. While this is obviously a great chance for Notre Dame, keep in mind Merrimack has one short-handed goal and had a breakaway opportunity for another. Regardless, the ice is tilted way in Notre Dame's favor, and Merrimack needs to do something to counter that.
Third period, 9:28, 3-3: Kyle Bigoas was called for a questionable interference penalty, and Notre Dame will go back on the power play. Players have gotten away with worse in this game, but Bigos could have avoided the penalty by not fanning on a clear attempt a few moments earlier.
Third period, 14:28, 3-3: Joe Cannata's rebound control has been a problem in this game, and it just cost Merrimack a goal. Cannata couldn't wrap up a shot, and the puck dangled in the slot before Billy Maday knocked it into the net. Notre Dame isn't the better team in this game, but it has taken advantage of two of Cannata's mistakes to erase the 3-1 deficit.
Third period, 15:50, Merrimack 3-2: Merrimack has regained its swagger, and that's bound to happen when Stephane Da Costa is toying with defenders in the Notre Dame zone. The Warriors should be starting a power play now, though, after a Notre Dame player got away with interference, cross-checking and checking from behind all on the same play.
Third period, 19:59, Merrimack 3-2: The winner of this game will play UNH on Sunday, and the winner of that game will take on Minnesota Duluth in the Frozen Four. Duluth just upset Yale in Connecticut and will have a massive home-ice advantage in the Frozen.
Second intermission, Merrimack 3-2: Merrimack has played well enough to be in the lead, but it's got to be a little ticked off that Notre Dame is just a goal down. Joe Cannata is a major reason why the Warriors are at this point, but he let up a soft goal to give Notre Dame some life. The Irish took advantage of that goal, too, by playing better through the final six minutes of the period. It's on Merrimack to respond from here.
Second period, 6:31, Merrimack 3-2: Notre Dame stole one there. Anders Lee took a wrister from the left point that Joe Cannata should have easily scooped up, but he reached above his head and let the puck trickle off his glove and float into the net. That was a soft one if there ever was. Cannata got away with a soft goal last week against UNH, as Blake Kessel's center-ice bouncer was disallowed due to offsides, but Cannata and Merrimack will pay the price for this one.
Second period, 12:00, Merrimack 3-1: Merrimack nearly delivered the knockout blow, as Jeff Velleca intercepted a lazy pass at the top of the zone and raced through two Notre Dame defenders to a breakaway, but goalie Mike Johnson barely got his left pad on the puck after Velleca put a heck of a move on him. Notre Dame should have realized in the first period that it's got to be more disciplined on the power play.
Second period, 13:52, Merrimack 3-1: Merrimack's Carter Madsen was called for cross-checking to give Notre Dame another power play. The Irish converted on their last man-advantage, but it was merely a consolation after they surrendered a shorty.
Second period, 17:02, Merrimack 3-1: Merrimack took advantage of a failed clear and doubled its lead. Shawn Bates intercepted a weak pass and hit Rhett Bly in the slot. Gliding to his right, Bly shuffled the puck through Mike Johnson's legs , and Merrimack pulled a veteran move by capitalizing on a bad turnover. Bly also made up for a pair of first-period penalties.
Second period, 19:59, Merrimack 2-1: Let's see if Merrimack and Notre Dame can keep up the pace in the second period. That was a fast opening frame.
First intermission, Merrimack 2-1: Each team had plenty of chances, as shown by Merrimack's 16-11 shot advantage, but the Warriors head to the locker room with the lead. This has been a pretty good performance for the Hockey East tournament finalists, and they've taken the play to the more experienced Notre Dame team.
First period, 3:08, Merrimack 2-1: Nick Larson was given two minutes for some excessive force after the play, and Merrimack will have another power play. Larson slashed goalie Joe Cannata after the whistle and got a deserved break in the box.
First period, 3:33, Merrimack 2-1: Notre Dame got it back on the power play, as Calie Ridderwall's wrister from the slot went through traffic and found the back of the net.
First period, 4:00, Merrimack 2-0: Stephane Da Costa, perhaps the best playmaker in Hockey East this season, led a two-on-one break with Ryan Flanigan while the Warriors were on the penalty kill. Da Costa fed Flanigan at the right circle, and he wristed a big one past Mike Johnson's glove.
First period, 5:10, Merrimack 1-0: Rhett Bly has taken his second penalty of the first period, and Notre Dame will go on the power play with a chance to tie the game.
First period, 6:37, Merrimack 1-0: Merrimack has the skill, but its first goal of the game was about hard work. Notre Dame goalie Mike Johnson couldn't hang onto a shot from the right point, and with the puck banked at the post, Kyle Bigos was able to whack it through Johnson and two Notre Dame skaters who were in the crease.
First period, 8:08, 0-0: Stephen Johns was called for boarding, and Merrimack will go on the power play. The Warriors have had their chances, and they don't look like a team that hasn't played in a tournament game in 23 years.
First period, 12:50, 0-0: The teams will play four on four after Rhett Bly and Sean Lorenz took matching penalties. Merrimack has the skill to take advantage of the extra ice.
First period, 16:06, 0-0: Notre Dame defenseman Sam Calabrese was called for tripping, and Merrimack will have the game's first power play.
First period, 16:20, 0-0: Merrimack senior forward Bobby Kramer took a hard hit in the corner of the MC zone and remained on the ice for a few minutes. He skated slowly to the bench with the help of the medical staff and a couple teammates.
First period, 19:59, 0-0: It's a Merrimack-heavy crowd, and the Warrior fans have built some momentum after the last couple weekends. Should be a good one, especially with the UNH fans still in attendance who are largely rooting for their Hockey East counterparts.
7:28 p.m.: Merrimack and Notre Dame are about to start the second game, and the winner will take on UNH on Sunday night.
Final, UNH 3-1: The Northeast's top seed has fallen, as UNH pulled off a surprising upset of Miami at the Verizon Center. Kevin Goumas scored two goals, and Mike Sislo had the winner early in the third period. UNH will play the winner of Merrimack-Notre Dame on Sunday at 8 p.m.
Third period, 1:25, UNH 3-1: The upset looks real now. Kevin Gomas broke up a rush in the UNH zone, carried the puck to center ice and sent a liner into the empty Miami net, and this place has erupted. This is a stunner.
Third period, 3:21, UNH 2-1: Miami has really been attacking during the last four or five minutes, and with two Hobey finalists and the nation's leading scorer, the RedHawks absolutely have the firepower to tie this game. It will be a tense finish for the UNH fans.
Third period, 4:25, UNH 2-1: I don't know if it was going in, but Matt DiGirolamo just got the UNH fans cheering after a big glove save on a Cameron Schilling slap shot from the left point. The puck looked like it might have been a little wide, but the style points were legit.
Third period, 7:17, UNH 2-1: Miami will get its second power play of the period after Paul Thompson was called for tripping. Miami's man-advantage was moving the puck well when it stayed patient earlier in the period, so UNH might need to add a little more pressure here.
Third period, 8:04, UNH 2-1: Miami has only put one shot on net in the first 12 minutes of the third period, as UNH's defense has really stayed strong in front of the net.
Third period, 9:24, UNH 2-1: UNH's defense has really held up, and Matt DiGirolamo made a nice save with the right pad to keep the Wildcats in the league, but he also got some help from the crossbar after Bryon Paulazzo's open bid from the right circle couldn't find the net.
Third period, 11:47, UNH 2-1: Stevie Moses was just called for a very questionable hooking call in the neutral zone, and Miami will get its second power play of the game. This is a huge spot for UNH, which has controlled play since the start of the second period and has played with a good amount of confidence.
Third period, 14:38, UNH 2-1: Credit Alden Hirschfeld with a goal-saving block during UNH's fourth power play. Paul Thompson received a pass in the slot and had a wide-open net at his disposal, but Hirschfeld got his left leg in the way to keep Miami's deficit at one goal.
Third period, 17:44, UNH 2-1: Justin Vaive got called for interference in front of the UNH net, and the Wildcats have their fourth power play of the game. This building is coming alive.
Third period, 19:21, UNH 2-1: UNH has taken a 2-1 lead for the second time, and this one will hold up. Blake Kessel had the puck at the right point and sent a crisp pass through the slot to Mike Sislo, who easily redirected the puck into the Miami net.
Third period, 19:59, 1-1: Fourth-seeded UNH and top-seeded Miami have 20 minutes to settle this first-round matchup.
Second intermission, 1-1: UNH is playing well enough to pull off the upset, and if Miami goalie Cody Reichard was unconscious in this game, the Wildcats could have a sizeable lead heading into the third period. UNH has gotten the better scoring opportunities, but Reichard has knocked aside two breakaways — including a Stevie Moses bid late in the second period — and two great looks from the slot. And don't forget the disallowed goal. Aside from Reichard, Miami's other big star has been its collective forecheck, although UNH did a better job to break through that in the second.
Second period, 2:45, 1-1: UNH has failed to score on three power plays in the second period, but its third man-advantage was a little better from its first two. Still, you saw what happened to Union on Friday when it put up a doughnut on the power play against Duluth. Miami does a great job of limiting long possessions and good looks, so it can't afford to keep giving these opportunities away.
Second period, 5:56, 1-1: UNH's power play needs some life, and it will get a third consecutive opportunity here in the second period after Trent Vogelhuber was called for hooking. Miami hasn't really changed anything with its forecheck or trap game, but UNH can't find a way to break through to sustain anything. However, Miami has been susceptible behind its defense, and UNH has tried to take a few chances on that end to no avail just yet.
Second period, 7:20, 1-1: This building yields some notoriously bad bounces off the boards, and Phil DeSimone had a chance to capitalize on one during the power play. The puck ran out to DeSimone in the slot, and he batted it at Cody Reichard, who didn't even need to move his glove to preserve the tie.
Second period, 8:25, 1-1: UNH didn't do much with its first power play, but it will have a second chance after Curtis McKenzie got bagged for hooking. Miami kept up its pressure on the penalty kill, stacking the blue line and forcing UNH to dump and chase. But UNH couldn't win any battles for the puck, and it never sustained any possession. Carter Camper actually had the best scoring chance, with a wrister through traffic from the right circle on the short-handed attempt, but Matt DiGirolamo got enough on it to swat the puck aside.
Second period, 13:04, 1-1: Will Weber got two minutes for hooking, and UNH will put its power play on the ice for the first time in the game.
Second period, 14:41, 1-1: Cody Reichard did it again, stopping Mike Sislo's breakaway with 15:20 remaining in the second period. Phil DeSimone hit Sislo in the neutral zone after he got behind the defense, but Sislo couldn't shake Reichard.
Second period, 19:59, 1-1: They're back in action in the second. How about this for a weird stat: As strong as Miami played defensively, it didn't block a single shot in the first period. Crazy.
First intermission, 1-1: That was a fairly even first period, but Miami's pressure has been a big advantage for the RedHawks. Their forecheck has killed UNH, and it has led to some extended possessions. It's a battle for UNH to get it out of the Miami zone, as well as through the neutral zone. Dick Umile has to draw up a better strategy in the locker room to counter that. Otherwise, the Wildcats have played right with Miami. The game is tied due to a disallowed goal and a tremendous save from Cody Reichard, showing that UNH has been able to get the better scoring chances.
First period, 3:45, 1-1: They just went 6:15 without a single whistle, and UNH has gotten some decent looks in the Miami zone, but the RedHawks are still controlling the overall play. UNH is having a heck of a time trying to clear the zone, and it's getting very, very few clean breaks against Miami's forecheck.
Miami goalie Cody Reichard made a phenomenal save on a Stevie Moses blast from the slot. Reichard went into a split while sliding from his left to right, and he got his right pad on the puck to keep the game tied. Even the UNH fans were impressed with that effort.
First period, 11:54, 1-1: UNH defenseman Damon Kipp was whistled for boarding, and Miami will have the first power play of the game. It was a boarderline call less than two minutes after UNH caught a tough break with a disallowed goal, and the Wildcats are going to have to work hard to keep composed.
First period, 13:31, 1-1: Hockey East Player of the Year Paul Thompson circled around the back of the Miami net and flipped the puck toward the crease. It deflected off one of two skaters — either Miami's Steven Spinell or UNH's Mike Sislo — and trickled through the net. But the play went to review, and the goal was taken away, with the announcement that it was directed in by a foot, which means the officials must have determined Sislo kicked it in.
First period, 13:57, 1-1: The UNH fans in the building were happy to see one of the referees fall on his backside just a few seconds after he swallowed his whistle during a potential holding penalty against Miami.
First period, 18:07, 1-1: It's been a quick start in Manchester. Matt Campanale took a shot that caromed off the back boards and found Kevin Goumas' tape at the post. Goumas easily sent the puck into the net as Cody Reichard slowly recovered.
First period, 19:07, Miami 1-0: That didn't take long. Bryon Paulazzo received a nice feed in the slot from Carter Camper, and Matt DiGirolamo saved the initial bid, but Paulazzo's rebound opportunity found the back of the net. Remember, heavily favored Boston College scored early on Colorado College on Friday night, and that didn't work out so hot.
First period, 19:59, 0-0: The game is under way, and UNH might need its best game of the year to pull off an upset of a Miami team that has a national championship on its mind.
4:00 p.m.: The building might be slightly more than half full — or a little less than half empty? — and the crowd is definitely UNH-heavy. Miami's band played the national anthem, and the two teams are moments away from face-off.
3:43 p.m.: On paper — or, on the Internet, as it may be — UNH doesn't really stack up against Miami, but the Wildcats don't need to look far for inspiration. They pulled off a first-round shocker in this very building two years ago, tying North Dakota in the opening round with 0.1 seconds remaining in the third period and then winning in overtime.
Then, UNH outplayed Boston University in the regional final before surrendering the decisive goal with 14.4 seconds to go in the third period. BU later won the national championship in one of the most thrilling games I've ever seen.
3:26 p.m.: Top-seeded Miami and fourth-seeded UNH have taken the ice for their pregame warmups, and face-off is about 40 minutes away. Miami is in its home white sweaters, while "visiting" UNH is in its road blues, despite being the host school. The teams also came out to UNH's entrance music. There's a sparse crowd at the moment, but UNH has a slight edge in team gear, which is to be expected.
8 a.m.: It's been 23 years since Merrimack last played in the NCAA tournament, but the Warriors will end the longest tourney drought in Hockey East on Saturday when they face off with Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H.
But first, fourth-seeded New Hampshire will have an upset on its mind at 4 p.m. The Wildcats, who are playing in a pseudo-home game, will play top-seeded Miami, which has advanced to the last two Frozen Fours. The RedHawks are led by likely Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele, who has an astounding 71 points this season (24 goals, 47 assists).
UNH, though, needs Hockey East Player of the Year Paul Thompson to change its NCAA tournament fate, as the Wildcats have fallen shy of the Frozen Four in seven consecutive seasons.
Second-seeded Merrimack gained a lot of experience last weekend while marching to the Hockey East championship game. The Wildcats knocked off Maine in the first round and UNH in the second round before falling to Boston College in the title tilt, but the upstart Warriors were tied in the game's final seven minutes and proved they've got the skill to handle the big stage.