Merrimack played an outstanding game on both sides of the puck to lead them to their first Hockey East championship game in program history following a 4-1 win over the University of New Hampshire on Friday evening.
Merrimack junior right winger Elliot Sheen had two goals on the night, while Warrior senior goaltender Joe Cannata made 29 saves.
UNH seemed to have the upper hand off the puck drop, as they looked to have gotten a lucky goal off a mishandle of a shot by Cannata, but the UNH skater was ruled offsides. UNH kept game play in their favor, scoring the game's first goal off of a Stevie Moses shot in-between Cannata's legs.
The Warriors quickly answered with a goal by junior left winger Ryan Flanigan, netting his fifth goal in as many games. Sheen would then tip-in a shot by freshman defenseman Brendan Ellis to give Merrimack the 2-1 lead late in the first period.
The second period was scoreless, though it was not without its chances for either team. New Hampshire goalie Matt Di Girolamo made several flashy saves in the second, stopping several Merrimack shots on his own. Merrimack played an excellent team defense, breaking up several UNH passes and creating a lot of layers in front of Cannata.
In the third, the game remained 2-1 until the 14 minute mark of the period when freshman left wing Mike Collins made it through a box of UNH players blocking the net, and scored over the sprawled out body of Di Girolamo to make it 3-1.
UNH's Moses and senior Paul Thompson took a few hard shots on Cannata as time wound down, but couldn't get any scoring opportunities to materialize. UNH pulled Di Girolamo around the two minute mark, but a frustrated Wildcat top line couldn't get the puck off their stick to make scoring opportunities. Sheen scored an shorthanded empty-net goal to shore up the game for Merrimack, 4-1, with just seven seconds remaining.
Di Girolamo ended the night with 28 saves for UNH. Merrimack's Ellis ended up with two assists on the evening.
Merrimack will take on #1 seed Boston College on Saturday night for the Hockey East Championship at the TD Garden. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.