Windham upsets Merrimack hockey

EXETER – Two periods complete and things were looking good for second-seeded Merrimack.

Those good vibes faded early in the third period, as sixth-seeded Windham reeled off five goals on its way to a 6-3 win over the Tomahawks in Wednesday’s Division II boys hockey semifinal at The Rinks of Exeter.

Windham’s third-period offensive wasn’t surprising to Merrimack coach Matt Davis. He felt the Jaguars had been that aggressive from the drop of the puck in period one.

"They were the better team out of the gate," Davis said. "Everything they did, they capitalized on. We had chances. We had a lot of chances. We just didn’t put it away when we should have.

"Our team worked 120 percent out there. I have no problem with how we played. That was just clearly the better team out there."

The Jaguars’ run didn’t stop, either, as Windham beat No. 1 Bow in the title game at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Merrimack held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period off a first period goal by Tucker Twardosky (assisted by Jon Tiano and Owen O’Brien) and a second period power-play goal by Aaron Tupper (assisted by Ryan Downie). Those goals sandwiched a first period goal by Windham’s Dan Donovan (assisted by Mike Tardif).

Donovan would add another goal during the Jaguars’ third-period onslaught. His goal (assisted by Tardif and Brad Saklad) came 1 minute, 10 seconds after Jimmy Harootian recorded the game-tying goal (unassisted) at the 13:33 mark the third period.

That’s all Windham coach Jerry Manchester was asking his team for coming out of the second intermission.

"We just wanted one goal," he said. "We were down by a goal. First period was OK. Second period was not good at all, and we were still one goal away.

"We came from behind in the last game against Portsmouth after the first, and we know we can put the puck in the net. So we just needed one to make it an even game and get some momentum and mojo, and we were lucky enough to get it early."

Jacob Aleksa (assisted by Nolan Cunningham) netted the eventual game-winner with 4:06 to play. Domenec Bruzzese (assisted by Bryce Blanchard and Chad Desautels) then added an insurance tally before Harootian (unassisted) closed Windham’s scoring with 1:32 to play for a 6-2 lead.

Merrimack put together a few third-period scoring opportunities of its own, but could only manage one more goal, with 16 seconds remaining, off the stick of Tyler Brewster (unassisted).

"It’s momentum," Davis said. "We went into the locker room after the second period and said whoever scores the next goal is going to win this game. Unfortunately it wasn’t us."

Between the pipes, Windham’s Christian Bassi made 24 saves, including 11 in the second period to keep his Jaguars in the game and nine more in the third period to secure the victory.

Merrimack’s Greg Amato stopped 27 shots in defeat.