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Penalty Kill On Point For No. 20 Men’s Hockey In 2-2 Tie At Merrimack

Tommy O'Regan collected a goal and an assist in the game against Merrimack Friday (Photo: Justine Agaloos).

ANDOVER, Mass. –
The No. 20 Harvard men's hockey team showed its mettle on the power play, capping the night by killing a five-minute major in overtime en route to a 2-2 tie at Merrimack Friday night. The tie is Harvard's first of the season as the Crimson moves to 4-3-1, and Merrimack shifts to 5-7-3 on the year. 

A great look for Alex Fallstrom early in third period went wide of the cage as the senior barely missed a close-range attempt just minutes into the stanza. Merrimack had a number of good looks through the third as a pair of Harvard penalties saw it gain two man-advantages. The final play of the period put Harvard in a significant bind, as senior captain Danny Biega was booked for a five-minute major as time expired in regulation.

Playing a man down for the entire overtime period, the Crimson penalty kill had its defining moment of the season, allowing just three shots to reach goalie Raphael Girard. Fallstrom even had a good look on a short-handed rush in the extra period, but Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta made the save, forcing the game to end in a 2-2 tie.  

Harvard applied solid pressure in the early going, testing Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta with five shots before six minutes had elapsed, and limiting the Warriors' shots on goal to two in that span. The momentum gradually shifted to the home team and the Crimson didn't make it easy on itself, as a trio of penalties saw the hosts amass 4:20 of power-play time towards the back portion of the first stanza. The Harvard power-play, ranked fourth nationally with a 92-percent success rate, was its usual poised self, thanks in large part to 10 big saves from Raphael Girard. Merrimack's best chance came when Jordan Heywood banged a close-range shot off the left pipe on the Warriors' second power play of the game, but the period closed with the score knotted at 0-0.  

The first task of the second period was to kill 1:40 of a Merrimack power playand Raphael Girard stopped two shots to help the Crimson accomplish the feat. The focus turned to the offensive zone and a burst of pressure by the guests resulted in the game's first goal. Brendan Rempel flung a puck down low to Tommy O'Regan along the back boards and O'Regan sent the puck back out to Desmond Bergin along the blue line. Bergin brought the puck to the doorstep and O'Regan circled through to shovel the puck past Sam Marotta for his first goal of the season just 3:13 into the second.

The same combination that produced the first goal struck again just 31 seconds later, giving the guests a rapid 2-0 lead. O'Regan received the puck approaching the Merrimack blue line and quickly dished to Bergin who was streaking to his left. Bergin wound up and blasted a low line drive that confounded Marotta and found the back of the net cleanly for a two-goal lead at 3:44. The goal was Bergin's first of his collegiate career.

The hosts wouldn't stay quiet for long and closed the gap to one when Rhett Bly scored a short-handed tally at 6:27, the first short-handed goal allowed by the Crimson in nearly a year. The game progressively got more physical and the puck stayed in the Harvard zone for extended stretches of the period. Merrimack took advantage of a long rebound with 6:02 to play in the second when Mike Collins put home the ricochet of a Jordan Heywood shot that beat Girard top shelf, tying the score 2-2. Harvard was outshot, 16-9, in the frame but tightened up its defense to preserve the 2-2 score heading into the second intermission.

Girard finished the game with 36 saves while O'Regan collected the fourth multi-point game of his career.

Harvard is back in action Monday when it welcomes UMass Lowell to Cambridge for a 7 p.m. game.