March 9, 2012

Merrimack and Maine Meet Again in the Hockey East Quarterfinals; Watch on WBIN and Fox College Sports

MERRIMACK COLLEGE HOCKEY

Hockey East Quarterfinals at #10 Maine, Friday - Sunday, March 9-11, 2012, Alfond Arena, Orono, Maine

TV: Live Locally on WBIN, Nationally on Fox College Sports Pacific, Online / All-Access Debuts Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets / Listen / Follow / Game Notes (.pdf) / Saturday Fan Fest

Tonight's Matchup: In a rematch of last year's quarterfinals, Merrimack looks to win the best-of-three series against Maine and advance to its 2nd-straight and 3rd-ever HEA semis.

Lifetime vs. Maine: Merrimack is 16-61-7 lifetime but went 3-2 last year and is unbeaten in five (4-0-1) against Maine for the first time ever. Merrimack is 0-3 at Orono in the playoffs.

This Season vs. Maine (MC won series 2-0-1):
(10/7/11, @ ME, MC, W, 2-1): Behind goals from Jeff Velleca and Jesse Todd, the Warriors opened the season with a win to snap a 22-game winless streak in Orono.
(1/13/12, @ MC, MC, W, 6-2): Ryan Flanigan (four assists) and Todd (two goals,
assist) led the way as Merrimack scored three power play goals in a 6-2 win.
(1/14/12, @ MC, T, 1-1): Cannata made 39 saves, five in overtime, while Todd scored the tying goal in the third to give Merrimack the tie.

Here We Go Again
For the second straight season, Merrimack and Maine will meet in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. Last season, Merrimack advanced to its second-ever HEA Semifinals following 5-4 and 6-2 victories over the Black Bears at Lawler. Like last year, the teams are the fourth and fifth seed; but, unlike last year, the seedings are reversed.

What's At Stake
Ranked tied for 14th in the Pairwise, Merrimack needs to win the quarterfinal series to have a shot at returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.

Merrimack Players to Watch
Merrimack's seniors could be the key to this series. Jesse Todd has five goals and 10 points lifetime against Maine (five points this year) while Ryan Flanigan has 12 career playoff points in eight games. Joe Cannata is 6-4-2 lifetime against Maine with a 2.67 goals-against and a .900 save percentage.

Offense vs. Defense
This series features the nation's top scorer (Spencer Abbott) and power play (Maine) vs. one of the nation's top defenses (Merrimack) and goaltender (Joe Cannata).

Looking Back to Last Year
In last year's quarterfinal sweep, the line of Ryan Flanigan-Carter Madsen-Elliott Sheen combined for seven goals, 16 points and a +19. With Madsen out for the season this year, Flanigan and Sheen will play on different lines. Flanigan led all Hockey East players in playoff scoring last season with 11 points. Setting a Division I school record with 25 wins, Merrimack reached its first-ever Hockey East Championship (5-3 loss to BC) and first NCAA Tournament since 1988 (4-3 OT loss to Notre Dame).

2000 Students, 28 Players, 1 Mission - Year 2
Merrimack's playoff mission hits the road this season as the smallest Division I college hockey school heads north. Student fan buses will invade Orono, while the hockey team will wear its popular gold on the road for the first time ever.

2011-12 Summary
Merrimack started the season 9-0-1, earning a #1 ranking for the first time ever for two weeks in November. They were the last team to lose in the country and the first to enter December unbeaten in 15 years. However, they have struggled to score all year (8th in Hockey East) and finished the season 8-10-6 since the hot start.

Most Successful Senior Class in School History
The Class of 2012 is the winningest class in Merrimack's Division I history and was a part of a team that won a school-record 25 games, advanced to its first-ever HEA Championship, was selected to its first-ever NCAA Tournament since joining HEA and earned the program's first-ever #1 ranking.

Strong on Saturday
Merrimack is 8-3-4 on Saturday and 7-2-3 in the 2nd game of back-to-backs.

First Period Normally Dictates Result
Merrimack is 14-1-5 when it scores first and 8-0-4 when leading after one.

First to Three?
Merrimack has scored more than two goals in six games since Jan. 1 and is 6-0 in those games. In the other 11, they are 0-7-4. They are 17-2-4 when scoring two or more goals this year.

A Hobey Candidate: Cannata Taking Record Books by Storm
Joe Cannata is the program's all-time leader in games and minutes played after passing Jim Hrivnak against UNH. With a goals-against of 2.19 and a save percentage of .923, Cannata is 3rd in GAA and 4th in SV% in HEA. He has allowed more than two goals in a game just eight times this season, excluding empty-netters. Owning the school record for career GAA, he needs 67 saves to pass Marty Legault for the program's Div. I saves mark of 3,120.

Stollery Nears Defensemen Scoring; Game Played Records
With 83 career points, Karl Stollery is seven points behind Bryan Schmidt for first place among Merrimack's Division I blueliners. He has played in 142 career games; the school record is 144 (Andy Heinze, Martin Laroche).

Top Team Nationally in Top-4 Defensemen Scoring
Merrimack's defense has been an offensive force, combining for 17 goals and 76 points. The top four defenders (Stollery, Bigos, Heywood, Ellis) are the only group of four in the country to all have 16 or more points. Karl Stollery is ninth in HEA in defensemen scoring with 21 points.

Todd Nears 100
Jesse Todd enters tonight with 97 career points. If he reaches 100, he will be just the second Warrior (Chris Barton) to do so in the last 11 years.

Road Warriors
At 7-5-2 on the road in league games, Merrimack has already set a school record for conference wins away from North Andover (formerly 5-6-2 2010-11). They have won at BU, Maine, UNH, UMass, UVM (2), and NU and have tied at BC and UML.

Best Season Series Ever Against Maine
Merrimack went 2-0-1 against Maine, marking the first time ever the Warriors have gone undefeated in a season series with the Black Bears. They are 4-0-1 in the last five meetings with Maine.

Senior Line Leads the Way
Merrimack's senior line of Jeff Velleca, Jesse Todd and Ryan Flanigan is leading the charge. The most consistent line since put together in early February, Flanigan leads the team in scoring, Todd leads the team in goals, while Velleca has been the most consistent player over the last three weeks.

Merrimack Rallies for 5-3 Win over UMass in Regular Season Finale
Merrimack rallied for three goals in a 5:54 span in the third period to defeat UMass 5-3 last Saturday. Josh Myers, Shawn Bates, Ryan Flanigan and Rhett Bly each notched a third-period goal in the come-from-behind victory. Bates scored a goal in both games against UMass last weekend.

4-3-2 in Season Series
Merrimack went 4-3-2 in season series. They defeated UMass, UVM, NU, and Maine, tied UNH and UML, and lost to BU, BC and PC.

Ties Aplenty
With seven ties on the season, Merrimack has more ties than in any other season since joining Hockey East.

Velleca, Collins Lead MC to 3-Point Weekend with UML
Jeff Velleca tied a career high with two goals and two assists as Merrimack scored three first-period goals in a 5-2 win over Lowell on 2/24 at Lawler. The next night, Mike Collins scored a pair of power play goals as MC tied UML 2-2. Joe Cannata allowed just one even strength goal in the weekend.

Quick Start Keys Win
In the 2/24 win over Lowell, Merrimack scored three first-period goals for the first time since it was the #1 team in the country (11/23/11 - Huntsville).

There's No Place Like Home
With a 9-5-3 record at home this year, Merrimack is now 17-5-3 in its last 25 games and 35-10-5 since the start of 2009-10 at Lawler. Merrimack has sold out 20 of its last 22 home games.

Three Warriors are 34-for-34
Only Jordan Heywood, Karl Stollery and Jeff Velleca have played every game this season. Brendan Ellis missed his first collegiate game on 1/14 after appearing in the first 59 games of his career.

Sheen, Bigos Snap Scoreless Droughts
Elliott Sheen and Kyle Bigos both scored in the first period against Lowell on 2/24 for the first time since the Maine weekend (January 13-14).

Power Play Strong in Wins
The power play has scored at least a goal in 15 of 17 wins.

Late Goal Leads to BC's Sweep of Merrimack
Paul Carey's goal with 5:31 left gave BC the weekend sweep of Merrimack, marking just the second time this season the Warriors were swept in a weekend. Jesse Todd scored for Merrimack. In the first game of the weekend series, Karl Stollery and Jordan Heywood each scored in a 4-2 loss. The pair combined for 7 of MC's season-low 19 shots.

On the Other Side of History
In addition to being on the losing end of Jerry York's 900th win, MC was the opponent when Jack Parker won career game #800 in 2009.

Second-Ever Top-10 Matchup at Lawler
The 2/18 BC game last week was the second-ever top-10 matchup at Lawler in Merrimack's Division I history. The 2/3 game against BU (MC was #4, BU was #3) was the first.

Senior Class Earns Point at All Hockey East Arenas
The Class of 2012 has earned at least a point at all Hockey East arenas. The only HEA school they did not win at is BC. After tying at BC on 1/8, Merrimack is 0-23-2 at BC dating back to 2/14/98.

Sudden Death Success
Merrimack is now 7-1-11 in OT in its last 18 regular season OT games dating back to the start of 2010-11 and 3-1-7 this season.

Flanigan a Finalist for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
Ryan Flanigan has been named 1 of just 10 finalists for the prestigious Lowe's Senior Class award. Flanigan is the only Hockey East player to be named a finalist. The winner will be announced at the 2012 NCAA Men's Frozen Four. Flanigan is tied for third in Hockey East with a +18 rating.

Velleca Gives Merrimack Late Win at UMass
Jeff Velleca scored his second goal of the game with just two seconds left in the third to lead Merrimack to a 4-3 win at UMass.   

Stollery, Cannata Lead Merrimack to 4-2 Win over PC
Karl Stollery had a goal and an assist while Joe Cannata made 37 saves as Merrimack beat Providence 4-2. The Warriors played the final 33:17 of the game with only four defensemen.

Heffernan's OT Goal Gives Merrimack OT Win at UNH
John Heffernan scored 19 seconds into OT, giving MC a 3-2 win at UNH (1/21). It was Heffernan's first appearance since 12/2.

Two Straight at the Whit for First Time Ever
Merrimack has won two straight at UNH for the first time ever. They have won just nine times in Durham, including three wins in the last four seasons.

Seniors Lead MC to 3-Point Weekend over Maine
Behind six goals and 16 points from the seniors, Merrimack earned a win and a tie against Maine. Ryan Flanigan (four assists), Jesse Todd (three goals, assist), and Karl Stollery (goal, three assists) led the way.

Toomey, HEA Rookie of the Week, Leads MC to Tie at BC
Behind two goals from Connor Toomey, including the game-tying goal with 1:10 left, MC tied #4 BC 2-2. Toomey, the HEA Rookie of the Week on 1/9, is tied for 4th on the team with 7 goals.

Myers Nets First Career Goal
Forced to miss the first half of the season due to NCAA ineligibility, Josh Myers scored his first career goal at BU (1/6) in his third-ever game. Myers was 2nd in the BCHL with 40 goals and tied for 6th in scoring with 80 points.

Merrimack Concludes Ledyard Classic with 1-0-1 Mark
Following a 6-6 tie against St. Lawrence (Merrimack lost in the shootout), the Warriors rallied to defeat Holy Cross 3-0 to claim third place at the Ledyard National Bank Classic at Dartmouth.

Bates Named to All-Tournament Team
Shawn Bates was named to the all-tournament team after netting five points in two games. Bates, who had points in six straight, set career highs against St. Lawrence in goals (2), assists (2), and points (4). Bates tied the game at five and at six in the third.

Non-Conference Play Concluded
Merrimack concluded non-conference play with a 4-1-2 record. They are 10-1-3 over the last two years and 23-7-5 in their last 35 games.

Wild and Rare 6-6 Tie
Prior to the 6-6 tie with St. Lawrence, Merrimack last tied 6-6 on February 13, 2000 against Lowell.

Ellis, Cannata Lead MC to 1-1 Tie at #12/11 Colgate
Joe Cannata made 34 saves and Brendan Ellis scored as Merrimack tied #12/11 Colgate 1-1.

Merrimack Ties SLU in Wild 6-6 Game; Falls in SO
In the roller-coaster first game of the Ledyard National Bank Classic, Merrimack led 3-0 after just 21:17 before St. Lawrence responded with five unanswered goals in the second. The Warriors tied it at five midway through the third and then at six with 42-seconds left only to fall in the shootout 2-1. By NCAA rules, the game is recorded as a tie.

Merrimack Suffers Rare Non-Conference Home Loss
The 3-1 home loss to Union on 12/17 was Merrimack's first non-conference loss at home in 12 games, dating back to October 24, 2006. Prior to this loss, Merrimack was 9-0-2 in its last 11 non-conference games.

UVM Season Sweep
With the Dec. 7 win, Merrimack completed its first-ever season-sweep of the Catamounts. The Warriors, winners of five of their last six against UVM at Lawler, have captured the last three season-series from the Catamounts.

Velleca, Mansfield, Ellis Have Career Days in UVM Win
Jeff Velleca tallied his first career two goal, two assist and four point game; Justin Mansfield had his first career multi-goal and point game, while Brendan Ellis added a career-high four assists.

Smallest School Reached the Top
Merrimack, the smallest school in Div. I hockey with 2,074 students, ascended to the top of the polls for the first time on November 21 and held that spot for two weeks.

First Team Unbeaten Entering December in 15 Years
Merrimack was the nation's last remaining undefeated team and the first team to enter December without a loss since the 1992-93 Maine team that went 42-1-2.

Sellout Streak Snapped
Merrimack's 11-game home sellout streak that began on Feb. 12 against New Hampshire ended on Dec. 7 against Vermont. Merrimack has sold out 20 of the last 22 home games at Lawler.

Brodhag, Toomey Lead MC to OT Win over #16 BU
At Agganis Arena on 11/11/11 with Joe Cannata pulled for the extra attacker, Brandon Brodhag tied the game with 1:56 left to play and Connor Toomey won it 22 seconds into overtime to give the Warriors the come-from-behind 3-2 win over BU.

Two Straight Over the Terriers
The 3-2 OT win at BU on Nov. 11 marked the first time MC has beaten BU in two straight games in 94 all-time meetings.

First-Ever Regular Season Win at Agganis Snaps BU's OT Streak
The win at BU marked Merrimack's first-ever regular season win at Agganis and snapped BU's 9-year streak of not losing a regular season HEA game in OT.

First-Ever Weekend Sweep in Vermont
Merrimack swept Vermont in Burlington for the first time ever. The Warriors are 7-0-2 against UVM over the last three seasons.

Flanigan's SH-OT Goal Gives MC Season Series over NU
Ryan Flanigan scored short-handed 1:57 into OT to give Merrimack the 3-2 win and the season series over NU. The Warriors trailed 2-0 but tied it behind two power play goals from Collins and outstanding penalty killing.

Flanigan-Madsen-Sheen Line Dominates in UVM Sweep
The senior line of Ryan Flanigan, Carter Madsen, and Elliott Sheen led the way against the Catamounts, combining for six points and a +9 rating in the weekend sweep at Vermont.

Marotta Earns Shutout, POTW Honors in First Start
In his first career start, Sam Marotta, the HEA Defensive Player of the Week (10/24), made 25 saves for his first career shutout and added an assist.

Warriors Conclude Homecoming with 5-0 Win over UConn
Behind multi-point efforts from Elliott Sheen, Jeff Velleca and Brendan Ellis, three power-play goals, and a shutout from Marotta, Merrimack blanked UConn 5-0 to stay perfect.

Todd and Flanigan Lead MC to 4-1 Win in Vermont
Jess Todd notched a career-high three points, including the game-winner, and Ryan Flanigan added a goal and an assist to propel the Warriors to a 4-1 win over Vermont on October 28.

Stewart Promoted to Associate Head Coach
Glenn Stewart has been promoted to Associate Head Coach. Stewart is in his third season at Merrimack.

Merrimack Wins Home Opener over Army
Energized by a sellout crowd, Merrimack defeated Army 3-2 behind multi-point efforts from Rhett Bly and John Heffernan. Ryan Flanigan and Karl Stollery also scored in the win as the Warriors outshot Army 40-21, including 19-2 in the second.

Warriors Own the Army
Merrimack has won all 13 meetings with Army since becoming a Division I school and all 11 lifetime in North Andover.

Strong on Opening Night
Merrimack is 7-2-2 in its last 11 home openers.

Strong Combined Special Teams
After tying for first in 2009-10, Merrimack finished last year ranked 6th nationally and 2nd in HEA in combined special teams.

Division I Hockey East Record 25 Wins, 35 HEA Points
Merrimack set a Division I HEA school record for wins with 25 and for points with 35 in 2010-11.   

64% of Offense Returns
While Merrimack loses its top three scorers from last season (Da Costa, Barton, Cucci), 64% of its offense returns, including all players ranked from 4-14 on the 2010-11 team in scoring.

Nine Straight on the Road is a School Record
Merrimack won nine straight road games from 11/30/10 to 2/18/11, most in program history.

Merrimack and WBIN Team Up
Merrimack, Pack Network, and WBIN-TV reached an agreement to broadcast five hockey games live from Lawler Rink during the 2011-12 season, four in high definition. Merrimack's five-game agreement with WBIN marks the first time in school history that the College has inked its own television package. WBIN will televise all three quarterfinal playoff games.

NHL Draftees
For the first time since 2002, Merrimack had two players selected in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Kyle Bigos was picked in the fourth round (99th overall) by Edmonton, while Joe Cannata was picked in the sixth round (173rd overall) by Vancouver.

Merrimack in 40+ Save Performances
Incredibly, over the last four seasons, Merrimack is 4-1-3 when its goaltender stops 40 or more shots. Joe Cannata stopped 40 shots this season to help the Warriors to a 1-1 tie with UNH.  He stopped 40+ shots in the 2009-10 season with his 42-save shutout effort at UMass. Cannata stopped 40+ shots in the 2008-09 season when he made 44 saves at Army to record a shut out in his first career start.

2011-12 Captains
Senior defenseman Karl Stollery will serve as this year's captain, while senior forward Ryan Flanigan and sophomore defensman Jordan Heywood will be the alternate captains.

Merrimack Ranked Fifth in HEA Preseason Poll
The Warriors were ranked fifth in the Hockey East Preseason Poll, its highest HEA preseason ranking ever.

Rank    Team (1st place votes)        Pts
1.    Boston College (7)            88
2.     Boston University (3)        83
3.    New Hampshire            72
4.     Maine                64
5.    Merrimack            61
6.    Vermont                44
7.    Massachusetts            42
8.    Northeastern            33
9.    UMass Lowell            27
10.    Providence                26

Ranked Fourth in HEBWA Preseason Poll
The Warriors earned the #4 preseason ranking in the Hockey East Broadcast and Writers Media poll.

Rank    Team (1st place votes)        Pts
1.     Boston University (16)        184
2.    Boston College (2)            169
3.    New Hampshire (1)            141
4.    Merrimack            133
5.     Maine                126
6.    Vermont                88
7.    Northeastern            71
8.    Massachusetts            64
9.    Providence                37
10.    UMass Lowell            32

Machnik Honored with Concannon Award
Merrimack radio broadcaster Mike Machnik was named the 2011 winner of the Hockey East Concannon Media Award. Machnik is the first recipient of the award with a Merrimack connection.

Where Are They Now
Five Warriors from last year's senior class continue to play professional hockey. Stephane Da Costa tallied 5 points in 22 games with Ottawa before being sent to Binghamton. Chris Barton led the ECHL in scoring among rookies before being promoted to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL with Pittsburgh. Adam Ross and Joe Cucci are also in the ECHL, while Francois Ouimet is playing in France.