By Mike McMahon
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Until Christmas, if you’re weren’t named Mike Collins, you weren’t doing much scoring for Merrimack College.
At the team’s Christmas break, Collins lead the team with 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists), which was more than double everyone else on the team. He had scored more than 20 percent of the Warriors’ goals and was the only player with double-digit points.
Since the Warriors returned from their mini-vacation though, they’ve started to find goals from other sticks.
Collins still leads the team in scoring in the second half (16 points), but Brian Christie, a freshman who has been playing as Collins’ center, has 10 points since the start of the spring semester, as has junior Shawn Bates.
Bates has centered a second line — with sophomore Josh Myers on the right wing — that has become a formidable compliment to Collins’ top-end scoring touch.
“We both compliment each other with our speed,” said Bates, who along with Myers are two of the fastest skaters on the team. “After the break we came back hungry. We had one line, and really only one guy (Collins) producing, so we wanted to help out and we weren’t doing that in the first half. Getting away for a little bit for that break I think helped restart things for us.”
The line had been helped with the addition of Clayton Jardine, but he was injured in Sunday’s 2-2 tie with Providence after taking a leg-on-leg collision with Providence forward Shane Luke. Jardine is expected to miss a few weeks, at least, while be recuperates.
“It’s still wait and see,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said of Jardine’s status. “He’s got some healing to do. We’ll know more in a week or two, once we retake some pictures and see where he is. He’s back to work now and his job is to get healthy. If in fact we do what we say we want to do, then there’s a lot of hockey left, so who knows, hopefully we can get him back and get ready to go.”
But, the bulk of that line, with the speedy feet of Bates and Myers, will remain intact tomorrow, when the Warriors welcome Boston College to Lawler Arena for a 4 p.m. faceoff.
“I’d say Myers is the quicker guy,” Bates said, “He goes from 0-100 in less than a second. We have also learned when to jump, which is really important. To do that, you need to know where the puck is going to get a jump on the defense. It’s not just speed, but knowing what we’re going to do with the puck so we can jump into that open space.”
As for who will step in on the line, that’s yet to be decided. With an odd week for the Warriors — they only play tomorrow with Friday and Saturday off — practice had just really begun on Thursday. The Warriors took Monday and Wednesday off with a short skill session on Tuesday with assistant coach Curtis Carr running the practice.
“We have some familiar faces with guys who have been on and off that line a couple of times this year,” Dennehy said. “Clayton was playing the best hockey he’s played since he’s been here. Myers and Bates have also really elevated their game. You hope that missing Clay isn’t going to affect those two, but of course it will to a certain extent. You don’t want to upset the applecart though, you want to keep them buzzing around.”