MAINE vs. MERRIMACK COLLEGE
Time, site: Friday, 7 p.m., Alfond Arena, Orono
Records (last year): Maine 17-12-7 (14-8-5 in Hockey East); Merrimack 25-10-4 16-8-3 (HE)
Series, last meeting: Maine leads 60-14-6, Merrimack 6-2 on March 12, 2011
Key players: Maine — LW Spencer Abbott (17 goals, 23 assists), C Brian Flynn (20 & 16), RW Joey Diamond (11 & 10), D Will O’Neill (4 & 17), D Matt Mangene (3 & 7), G Dan Sullivan (10-7-2, 2.73 goals-against average, .890 save percentage), G Martin Ouellette (3-3-2, 3.18, .862); Merrimack — LW Ryan Flanigan (16 & 18), RW Jesse Todd (17 & 14), LW Mike Collins (14 & 16), C Carter Madsen (10 & 11), D Karl Stollery (6 & 21), D Jordan Heywood (2 & 14), G Joe Cannata (25-10-4, 2.48, .911)
Outlook: The Black Bears were swept out of the Hockey East quarterfinals by the Warriors and that ended their NCAA Tournament aspirations. The line of Madsen between Flanigan and Elliott Sheen combined for seven goals and nine assists in Merrimack’s 5-4, 6-2 wins over Maine. Merrimack hasn’t won at the Alfond Arena since Nov. 14, 1997, going 0-21-2. Merrimack reached the NCAA tournament last year but lost to Notre Dame in overtime, 4-3, in their first round game. Merrimack has lost its top three scorers off last year’s team. The Warriors have a nice blend of talented top-end players and effective role players. Stollery is one of the nation’s best defensemen and Cannata is a top-notch goalie. Both are seniors. Maine had the benefit of a playing an exhibition game last Sunday, a 7-3 win over defending Canadian national champ New Brunswick, while Merrimack was off. This could boil down to a battle of special teams and the team that makes the fewest mistakes.