NORTH ANDOVER — Maine senior captain Mike Cornell admits he never imagined that Merrimack and Maine would become heated rivals.
Last night, in front of a sellout crowd, the Warriors continued their dominance over the Black Bears at Lawler Arena, winning 6-0.
Now the Warriors travel to Orono next weekend for a pair of games at Alfond Arena.
“Coming in I didn’t expect Merrimack to be one of our biggest rivals,” Cornell said. “It’s a scheduling quirk, and it’s both a good thing and a bad thing. We get right back at it but we got a sour taste in our mouth, so there’s no shortage of motivation to hopefully come out on top.”
Cornell has won just once at Lawler — the first time he played here his freshman year. Since then, Maine has gone 0-6-1 in the building, including getting swept in the 2011 Hockey East quarterfinals.
But the Black Bears returned the favor, ousting the Warriors in three games last year.
“We’ve had a rivalry over the last couple of years,” said Merrimack sophomore Quinn Gould, who netted his fourth goal of the season in the second period. “As you can see, emotions fly. It’s exciting now that we get to go up there for two. It’s like a mini playoff series, and we don’t forget what they did to us last year.”
Added Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta, “They’re a good team. This is a playoff series. Every game in Hockey East is a playoff game.”
Merrimack’s Mike Collins netted two goals and an assist. Collins now leads Hockey East in scoring with 19 points through 12 games, slightly ahead of Boston College superstar Johnny Gaudreau, who has the same point total but in 14 games.
Collins was held pointless in a league game for the first time all season in Friday’s 4-1 loss to Boston University.