NASHVILLE, TN - The 15th-ranked Merrimack hockey team won its fifth straight Saturday, netting three first-period goals while cruising to a 7-0 victory over Alabama Huntsville at the Bridgestone Arena, concluding non-conference action with a 6-0-1 record.
Merrimack (12-4-4) returns home Tuesday night to host #16 Boston University in a big Hockey East matchup at 7 p.m. at Lawler Arena. Limited tickets remain and are available at merrimackathletics.com. The game was scheduled for last Wednesday but was postponed due to the blizzard.
Merrimack's junior line led the way as Carter Madsen (Calgary, AB) notched his first career two-goal and three-point game, while Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) had a goal and two assists for his first collegiate three-point performance. After firing eight shots Friday night, Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) concluded an outstanding weekend with his first career goal in the third and first multi-point game of the year. Jesse Todd (Camrose, AB) added a pair of goals, giving him a team-high 11 on the year.
With the win, Merrimack has victories in six straight road games and 10 of 12 overall. After tying Niagara to open the season, the Warriors rattled off six straight non-conference wins to go unbeaten outside of conference action for the second time in four seasons. In four games so far in 2011, Merrimack has potted 24 goals, nearly six goals a game in four victories.
"It was pretty good all-around effort," said head coach Mark Dennehy. "I thought we played really well. We got a lot of great efforts throughout our lineup. I really liked how we came out of the gate, and how we stuck with it. It could have been easy to relax but we didn't. We have a great leadership group, and they kept the guys going."
Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) turned aside 24 shots for his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career, giving him a winning record in his collegiate career at 29-28-9, 12-4-4 this season.
"I don't know how many teams down 7-0 are going to go down and block shots late in the third. It's really a testament to how much they care about each other," said Dennehy.
The Warriors wasted no time as Rhett Bly (Regina, SK) notched his first goal since November 20, taking a feed from Shawn Bates (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) and beating John Griggs over his blocker at 4:11 of the first.
Flanigan made it 2-0 at 10:52 with his fifth of the year on the power play. With Merrimack on a five-minute power play, Adam Ross (Red Deer, AB) fed the junior forward, who one-timed it over Griggs' short-side for the tally.
Merrimack dominated the first, firing the game's first 19 shots and did not surrender a shot until the 17-minute mark of the first.
Todd rounded out the first period scoring at 19:42 with another power play marker, taking feeds from Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, BC) and Mike Collins (Boston, MA), and slapping it home for his 10th of the year.
Madsen continued the visitors' momentum with his first goal since October 16 just 42 seconds into the second, as Elliott Sheen (Lethbridge, AB) and Flanigan fed the junior for his second of the season.
Madsen made it 5-0 on the power play with his first career two-goal game, as the junior redirected a Tom McCarthy (Maple Grove, MN) slap shot at 11:04.
A slapper from Heywood 6:27 into the third made it 6-0, as the freshman took a feed from Chris Barton (Calgary, AB) and buried it high over the glove for his first career marker. Todd added his second of the game and third of the weekend late in the period, getting the rebound off a Heywood shot.
In all, 14 players picked up points in the victory for the Warriors, including five defensemen as Merrimack outshot the Chargers 47-24 overall, including 20-5 in the first. Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) extended his point streak to 10 games with a third-period assist.
Merrimack's power play struck for three goals in the victory, giving them five in this two-game series.