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NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) tied a career-high with four points, while Jesse Todd (Camrose, AB) matched his career-best with three points as #7 Merrimack downed Maine 6-2 to capture the season-series in front of a sellout crowd of 2,489 at Lawler Arena Friday.
Merrimack (12-4-4, 8-3-2 HEA) and Maine (10-8-2, 7-7-1 HEA) conclude its season series Saturday at Lawler Arena with a special 5 p.m. start with the Warriors going for their first-ever season sweep of the Black Bears. The game will be televised live in high definition locally on WBIN-TV (Channel 18 & 811 on Comcast, 6 & 506 on Fios). Less than 300 tickets remain and are available for purchase at the box office and at merrimackathletics.com.
Playing their first game at home in nearly a month, the Warriors, who have scored 24 goals in their last four home games against Maine, received four goals and 13 points from the senior class and six points from its senior line of Flanigan, Carter Madsen (Calgary AB), and Elliott Sheen (Lethbridge, AB). For Flanigan, he set a career-high with four assists and tied a career-high with four points, which he last did in game two of the Hockey East Quarterfinals against Maine last season.
After Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) made four early stops, including a great rebound chance on Adam Shemansky, Madsen got the Warriors on the board with his first goal since October 29 at 5:51. After not playing in last Sunday's game, Madsen took a feed from Sheen and broke in on a 2-on-1 with Flanigan. Madsen looked off Flanigan and beat Dan Sullivan over the glove for his second of the year.
Just 2:09 later, Sheen broke down the left side and fed Jordan Heywood (Regina, SK) who was trailing the play. Heywood fake the shot and skated into the faceoff circle and fired a slapper under the cross bar into the net for his third of the year, giving the hosts the early 2-0 lead.
Kyle Bigos (Upland, CA) opened the second with a goal, firing a wrister from the point that snuck through traffic and between the pads of Sullivan for his third of the year, giving Merrimack the 3-0 lead at 1:08. Connor Toomey (Billerica, MA) won the draw to Josh Myers (Colorado Springs, CO), who worked the puck to Bigos on the point, who fired it home for his second goal in three games.
Todd made it 4-0 at 6:59 on the power play. The senior forward won the draw to Flanigan as a Merrimack power play began, and he fed it back to Todd, who one-timed a blast into the net for his seventh of the year, tying Toomey for the team lead.
With the nation's top-ranked power play on the ice for the first time, John Parker got the visitors on the board with his first career goal and point, getting a rebound in front of Cannata off a Brian Flynn shot at 9:34, cutting Merrimack's lead to 4-1. Then at 13:30, Spencer Abbott took a feed from Flynn, dribbled around a Merrimack defender and beat Cannata glove side for a pretty goal, his 12th of the year, making it a two-goal game.
But Todd answered back, nearly scoring from the same spot on an identical one-timer with the Warriors back on the power play at 15:18. Todd won the draw again to the point, where Karl Stollery (Camrose, AB) fed Flanigan who dished it to Todd, who one-timed it blocker side for his team-leading eighth of the year.
With Merrimack on a 4-on-3 power play, Stollery notched his third point of the game, knocking in a rebound for his fifth of the year, with Flanigan and Todd getting the assists on Merrimack's third power play goal of the night.
Incredibly, Stollery, Todd and Flanigan each had a point on all of Merrimack's power play goals, as Merrimack's defense, led by three points from its captain and two from Bigos combined for six points in the win.
Cannata finished with 24 saves as Merrimack outshot the Black Bears 33-26 in the victory. The senior goaltender and Hobey Baker Nominee made numerous big saves early, including a breakaway blocker stop on Joey Diamond with three minutes left in the first.
Merrimack's power play finished 3-for-6, netting three goals for the first time since October 22 against UConn.
Sullivan totaled 18 saves in the loss before giving way to Martin Ouelette in the third.
The sellout was Merrimack's 13th in 14 games at Lawler Arena.