Dec. 11, 2012
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Army sophomore Mac Lalor is normally a defenseman. In fact for his previous 43 games, he has played on defense.
Army coach Brian Riley wanted to try some different lines and move some folks around for the Black Knights’ final non-conference game of the season at Merrimack on Tuesday night.
Among the changes was Lalor from right defense to right wing, the first time he has played forward in Army uniform.
The move paid off as Lalor, from nearby Needham, Mass., scored a career-best two goals but Merrimack secured a 4-2 victory in front of a crowd at 1,869 at Lawler Arena.
Riley was coaching in his 300th career game and almost pulled off the non-conference victory.
Instead, Merrimack, a member of Hockey East, improved to 6-7-3 as goalie Rasmus Tirronen made 22 saves.
Army, now 5-7-2, overcame a two-goal deficit to tie the game but lost its final game before Term-Ending Exams.
Jonathan Gehrt had two assists and Andy Starczewski posted one assist for Army.
Army goalie Rob Tadazak made 42 saves to keep the Black Knights close.
Merrimack, playing for the first time since suffering a 3-1 exhibition loss to the U.S. Under-18 Team and 2-2 overtime tie with Harvard over the weekend, came out firing. The Warriors collected the first 10 shots on goal and tested Tadazak early.
Tadazak, in goal for the first time since getting injured against Sacred Heart on Nov. 16, was sharp, registering 10 saves in the first 10 minutes of the game. He made two point-blank saves and came way out of his crease to thwart another opportunity.
Starczewski had the first chance for Army midway through the first period.
Merrimack went on the power play 13 minutes into the game when Army was whistled for cross checking but the Black Knights kept the game scoreless with a successful penalty kill.
Army had a power play opportunity late in the period with a Merrimack infraction for slashing, but the first period ended scoreless.
The Warriors finally got one past Tadazak. Just as a power play ended for roughing, Justin Hussar got the puck behind Tadazak for his second goal of the season at 4:22 of the second period.
The Black Knights had opportunities. Thane Heller had a shot on goal and Lalor had two shots on goal.
Army had an excellent scoring opportunity late in the second period. Joe Kozlak snapped off a shot that was tipped in the air. Andrew O’Leary wasn’t able to get his stick on this loose puck though and the Warriors led 1-0 after two periods.
The Warriors added to their lead at the 13:46 mark of the final period. After an Army turnover, Shawn Bates converted a nice pass from Kyle Biggs for his second goal of the season and a 2-0 Merrimack advantage.
Army got on the scoreboard with a pair of power play goals. With Merrimack players off for tripping and holding the stick, Lalor scored his first of the game. Gehrt got the puck to Starczewski who fed Lalor. It was the third assist for Gehrt, the 11th for Starczewski and the third goal for Lalor.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Lalor had his second of the game and eighth of his career. Faust and Gehrt collected the assists to tie the game at 2 with 10:10 left to play. It was the fifth assist of the season for Faust.
Merrimack went back on top with less than eight minutes remaining as Vinny Scotti went high over a sprawling Tadazak for his second goal of the season and 3-2 Warriors lead following the power play score.
Army pulled Tadazak with a minute left and utilized its timeout but could not get the tying goal as the Warriors scored an empty-net tally to secure the win.
Army will be idle until hosting the Russian Red Stars All-Star Team on Friday, Dec. 27 at 7:05 p.m. in an exhibition game. For tickets, please visit www.goARMYsports.com or call 1-877-TIX-ARMY.
The Black Knights are 5-2-2 in the Atlantic Hockey Association and will return to league play Dec. 29 and 30 at Canisius.
GAMES NOTES: Army wore its black sweaters … Army’s starting lineup consisted of Brian Schultz, Joe Kozlak, Zak Zaremba, Cheyne Rocha and John Clark with Rob Tadazak in net … It marked the 17th start of Tadazak’s career … Army head coach Brian Riley’s daughter, Danielle, is a freshmen member of the lacrosse program at Merrimack … Coach Riley juggled his lines a bit and moved defenseman Mac Lalor to right wing … Army arrived about 20 minutes later than normal due to traffic during the nearly four-hour drive from West Point, N.Y. … Freshman forward Andrew O’Leary returned to the lineup after missing five games due to an injury.
MERRIMACK 4, ARMY 2
MM – Hussar (Brodhag, Biggs), 4:22
MM – Bates (Biggs, Jardine), 6:14
ARMY – Lalor (Starczewski, Gehrt), PP, 9:13
ARMY – Lalor (Gehrt, Faust), PP, 9:50
MM – Scotti (Hussar, Mansfield) PP, 12:06
MM – Collins (Bly, Christie) EN, 19:56
Shots: Army 24 (5-8-11); Merrimack 46 (19-12-15)
Saves: Army 42 (Tadazak, 59:07, 19-11-x; empty net, :53); Merrimack 22 (Tirronen, 60:00, 5-8-11)
Power Plays: Army, 2-3; Merrimack, 1-3
Penalties: Army, 5-10; Merrimack, 5-10