By Josh Kummins
NORTH ANDOVER, MA – After opening their best-of-three Hockey East Quarterfinal series with a win on Friday, the Merrimack Warriors used the momentum of an energetic sold-out crowd to outplay the Maine Black Bears, 6-2, at Lawler Arena on Saturday.
With the win and a two-game series sweep, Merrimack has advanced to the Hockey East semi-finals for just the second time in school history. There last visit to this special event was back in 1998. However, this marks the first time that the Warriors have won back-to-back Division I playoff games too.
Merrimack juior Carter Madsen, netted his first career hat-trick and second-career multi-goal game, while junior Ryan Flanigan scored one goal while recording three assists to set a new career-high mark.
The Black Bears only mustered two goals by Merrimack goaltender Joe Cannata, who saved on 29 of 31 shots in net. Junior Brian Flynn and senior Jeff Dimmen each scored goals in the second and third periods, while junior defenseman Will O’Neill was Maine’s only multi-point scorer of the series, as he assisted on both goals.
Maine’s goalie, Dan Sullivan made saved 22-shots, before Shawn Sirman stopped nine shots during the final 18:24.
The Black Bears finish the season with a record of [17-12-7] and entered the playoffs as the fifth place team in Hockey East.
Merrimack will await Sunday’s Boston University – Northeastern winner for the semi-finals at the TD Garden. Both the Huskies and Terriers are tied, 1-1.
University of Maine head coach Tim Whitehead:
On the loss:
“It is a tough loss obviously…It was a real good couple of games for them to advance, so the credit goes to them.”
Commenting on the seniors and team as a whole:
“I really feel for the seniors and the entire team. I am very proud of this team. As much as any team I have coached, they fought through a ton of adversity. A lot of injuries to key players, they never quit and they went right to the end.”
The play of Merrimack College:
“We got out of the gate pretty good in the first and in the second period, they just got it going.”
Keys to having a successful season:
“The key for us this season was not getting those two points to clinch home ice. If we had hosted, it would have been a totally different series.”
Merrimack Head Coach Mark Dennehy:
Commenting on Carter Madsen’s line:
“[The Madsen line was] great all weekend and they did it again tonight. We actually matched them up with the Nyquist line, because they did such a good job last night…They can all skate and are very tenacious. I think they really optimize the type of hockey we play.”
On offensive players on Merrimack:
“The best offensive players want to get going. They don’t want to spend that much time in their zone.”
On Carter Madsen’s last goal:
“Carter’s last goal was a great cycle down low. They used the net, they used each other and [Flanigan] came out for the wrap, so the rebound was just sitting there.”
On particulars before the season began:
“We thought from the start of the season that we would have some good players. That is what brought guys like [Stephane Da Costa] back. We thought we were going to be pretty good.”
Commenting on recruiting players to Merrimack:
“Part of our recruiting pitch to this group was that you get to make footprints and raise the bar. That is why we went after championship players.”
CARTER MADSEN (Merrimack):
Commenting on his play and performance:
“That was defiantly nice. A big game like that to come out and contribute was great.”
Josh Kummins is the Hockey East beat writer for BostonSportsU18.com.