The Merrimack men’s ice hockey team just kicked off the New Year in style.
The No. 18 Warriors used a heroic 40-save effort from goaltender Rasmus Tirronen to down No. 8 Minnesota 3-2 in its own arena and advance to the finals of the Mariucci Classic.
It was a back-and-forth affair in Minneapolis. Golden Gophers defenseman Michael Brodzinski got Minnesota (9-5-1) on the board with a goal just five minutes after puck drop, but forward Hampus Gustafsson lit the lamp for the Warriors (11-5-2) near the end of the period to tie the score.
Merrimack took control in the second period, getting even-strength goals from wingers Jace Henning and Brett Seney to take a two-score lead into the third period.
After that, the Warriors relied on the efforts of Tirronen, who stopped 17 of Minnesota’s 18 shots in the final frame to help his team hang on for the win.
Merrimack will square off against UMass-Lowell in the tournament finals Saturday, while Minnesota will take on RIT in the third-place game.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
UConn 4, Massachusetts 3: The Minutemen (5-14-0) staged a late comeback against the Huskies (5-9-4), scoring two goals in the third period to tie the game at 3-3. But UConn forward Spencer Naas netted his second goal of the game with 6:05 remaining to lift his team to victory.
BC 4, Brown 1: North Reading, Mass., native and Boston Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald helped the No. 15 Eagles (10-7-1) soar past the Bears (3-9-0) in the Ledyard Classic, scoring a goal and adding two assists as BC rattled off three unanswered goals to close out the game.
UMass-Lowell 7, RIT 3: The No. 9 River Hawks (13-3-3) exploded at the Mariucci Classic, scoring four consecutive goals to start the game and keeping the Tigers (5-9-3) at bay to earn a trip to the finals against Merrimack. UMass-Lowell’s Evan Campbell led all scorers with a goal and two assists.
Maine 4, Canisius 2: The Black Bears (5-13-1) spread the puck around Friday night, as four different players scored against the Golden Griffins (6-7-5) en route to a convincing win at Alfond Arena.
Northeastern 3, St. Lawrence 3 (OT): The Huskies (5-10-2) trailed the Saints (8-8-2) by three goals entering the third period but mounted an impressive comeback, as forward Adam Reid netted the game-tying goal with less than 20 seconds left in regulation to earn his team a hard-fought point.
Thumbnail photo via Facebook/MerrimackWarriors