Preview: Merrimack men’s hockey at Maine

Posted March 08, 2012, at 5:39 p.m.

Hockey East Quarterfinals (Best of 3)


Time, site: 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and (if necessary) Sunday, Alfond Arena, Orono

Records: Fourth seed Maine (20-11-3, 15-10-2 Hockey East); fifth seed Merrimack (17-10-7, 13-9-5)

Series, last meeting: Maine leads 60-16-7, 2-2 tie on Jan. 14

Key players: Maine — LW Spencer Abbott (19 goals, 37 assists), C Brian Flynn (17 & 28), RW Joey Diamond (22 & 19), RW Matt Mangene (14 & 16), D Will O’Neill (1 & 26), D Ryan Hegarty (2 & 11), G Dan Sullivan (19-8-3, 2.56 goals-against average, .908 save percentage); Merrimack — LW Ryan Flanigan (10 & 18), C Jesse Todd (12 & 14), LW Mike Collins (9 & 14), D Karl Stollery (7 & 14), RW Jeff Velleca (9 & 19), D Jordan Heywood (4 & 13), G Joe Cannata (16-10-7, 2.19, .923)

Outlook: The Warriors are 4-0-1 in their last five meetings with Maine. Four of their top five scorers are seniors. The line of Carter Madsen between Flanigan and Elliott Sheen combined for seven goals and nine assists in Merrimack’s 5-4, 6-2 sweep of Maine in last year’s quarterfinal series but Madsen is out for the year due to injury. The Warriors have received game-winning goals from 12 different players and have allowed just 2.26 goals per game behind the goaltending of Cannata, a mobile and reliable defense corps led by Stollery and resourceful forwards who are committed to defense. Maine will have to match Merrimack’s work ethic and defensive awareness, get shots off quickly or fake shots initially to neutralize Merrimack’s shot-blocking proficiency, crash the net to screen Cannata, create deflections and generate rebound chances.

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