Berzolla’s three assists spark Tigers in comeback road win over Merrimack

berzolla

Colorado College shook off an early Merrimack goal to scored five unanswered in a 5-1 road win over struggling Merrimack on New Year’s Eve afternoon.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the 8-9-2 Tigers, who next play at Hockey East’s Maine on Jan. 2.

“We didn’t finish well before Christmas break and we knew we had more to give,” Tigers goalie Alex Leclerc (38 saves) said in a radio interview. “We didn’t start well but after the first 10 minutes we kept getting better and better.”

Zach Berzolla picked up his third assist of the nonconference game on Westin Michaud’s goal in the third period that finished off the scoring at Lawler Rink in North Andover, Mass. The three assists doubled his season total and improved his carer totals to 11 points (10 assists)

Berzolla assisted both first-period goals by the Tigers, including Alex Berardinelli’s eventual game-winner with 6:33 left in the first for a 2-1 lead.

“I just try to get pucks on the net and fortunately some guys buried the puck for me tonight,” Berzolla said. “We felt we left some wins behind in the first half (of the season). We have put that behind us and are looking to build on this in the second half.”

Merrimack’s Tyler Drevitch gave the hosts a 1-0 lead which lasted only two minutes before Troy Conzo tipped in a Berzolla shot to tie the game. Berardinelli scored eight minutes later. on a breakaway sparked by a Berzolla pass.

CC improved to 4-0 all-time versus the Hockey East member Warriors (4-14-1).

The game marked the return of Chris Wilkie from an upper-body injury, who made his presence felt when he made a between-the-legs pass to Trevor Gooch for his seventh goal and a 3-1 Tigers lead with 11:09 left in the second period.

CC’s Grant Cruikshank knocked a power-play shot in off the crossbar about 10 minutes later for a 4-1 lead entering the final period.

Tigers lose 2018 home finale and backup goalie

blumenscheinColorado College hockey lost its final home game of 2018 and its backup goalie.

Vermont rallied with two goals in the second period to forge a nonconference split against the Tigers thanks in large part to 48 saves by Catamounts goalie Stefanos Lekkas, which match his season high.

The Illinois native was excellent and CC whiffed on the few opportunities he allowed. The loss ended a three-game unbeaten stretch for the Tigers (7-7-2 overall) as they head to Tempe for a nonconference series at No. 19 Arizona State next weekend.

“Give their kid a lot of credit,” CC coach Mike Haviland said. “He played outstanding and he was the difference in the game. We played well enough. We had 28 (Grade) A chances to their nine. We had chances. For the most part, we played pretty well again. It’s the fine line between winning and losing. When you get chances you have to score.”

The 49 shots were the most since 49 on Dec. 4, 2010 in a 5-0 road win at former Western Collegiate Hockey Association foe Michigan Tech. Jaden Schwartz scored the eventual game-winner that snowy night in Houghton, Mich.

Not that Alec Calvaruso was on hand to see either. The Livonia, Mich. sophomore (0-1, two appearances, 3.06 goals against, .862 saves, 78:21) left the program earlier this week. The former Lone Star Brahmas standout played in eight games as a freshman.

“He gave a reason but I would rather keep it between him and I,” Haviland said. Sophomore Jon Flakne remains as the CC backup (0-0, 20 minutes, 3.00 gaa, .857 saves).

The Catamounts pulled ahead  on goals by Jake Massie and Vlad Dzioshvili in the opening 10 minutes of the second period.

The Tigers responded with a better effort over the final 30 minutes but could not find the equalizer, especially after a 5-minute major on Bryan Yoon (contact to the head, game misconduct) with 2:13 remaining. Barring any league suspension, the Parker native will be available next weekend.

Tigers senior forward Trevor Gooch continued his hot streak when he buried his fourth goal in three games. He fired a pass from Ben Copeland between Lekkas’ leg pads. The Illinois native got a piece of the rubber, but Gooch’s shot was too strong and propelled the puck in for the opening tally just 3:51 into the game.

Gooch was not in the mood to talk about his scoring streak following the loss. CC had 60 Grade A chances on the weekend but recorded only four even-strength goals.

“We had pucks on sticks in the slot and it came back to bite us,” Gooch said. “We have to figure that out especially going against a strong team like Arizona (State) next weekend.”