---- — 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.
“Mikey was excellent tonight,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said. “He definitely answered the challenge.”
The Warriors blocked a whopping 26 shots on the night, including some bone-chilling blocks late in the game, with it decidedly in hand.
Up 5-0, junior defenseman Tom McCarthy dropped down in front of a point-blank slapper from the slot. Dan Kolomatis, later in the period, stuck his leg out to deflect a puck away from keeper Sam Marotta.
“We’re up 6-0 and guys were laying out, you don’t see that on a lot of teams,” Marotta said. “They made some amazing blocks. Tommy had a two-pad stack there and Kolo made a split save, I think. Every time it hits them I get fired up and I start screaming. They play for me and I try my best to play for them.”
Gould catching steam
Quinn Gould appeared in just four games as a freshman before succumbing to injury. The sophomore winger was a big part of Merrimack’s plans this season before getting hurt just seven games in.
Now back, he skated on the Warriors’ top line alongside Brian Christie and Mike Collins.
“Last week in Vermont I was just trying to find my legs and tonight playing a gritty team like Maine it was good to get some bumps in, so I’m feeling good,” he said.
Added coach Mark Dennehy, “In order to score goals you have to get to the net, and he’s a big body. When he plants himself he’s pretty disruptive and he occupies a lot of space.”
Merrimack 6, Maine 0
at J. Thom Lawler Arena
Maine (5-13-3, 1-8-3 HE): 0-0-0—0
Merrimack (8-9-4, 6-5-1 HE): 2- 3-1 6
First Period: 1. MC Mike Collins 10 (Dan Kolomatis), ev, 15:06; 2. Quinn Gould 4 (Mike Collins), ev, 19:12.
Second Period: 3. MC John Heffernan 3 (Shawn Bates, Josh Myers), ev, 1:58; 4. MC Vinny Scotti 3 (John Gustafsson, Connor Toomey), ev, 6:11; 5. MC Mike Collins 11 (Brendan Ellis, Kyle Bigos), pp, 18:40.
Third Period: 6. MC Brendan Ellis 3 (Connor Toomey, Kyle Bigos), pp, 9:03.
Shots: Merrimack 10-11-6–27 ; Maine 10-14-5–29
Goaltenders: MC Marotta (60:00) 30 saves; ME Ouellette (26:11) 17 shots, 13 saves; ME Morris (33:49) 10 shots, 8 saves.
Power Play: Merrimack 2 for 8; Maine 0 for 8
Penalties: Merrimack 10-20; Maine 10-20
Faceoffs: 36-34 Merrimack
Attendance: 2,489 (2,489)
Next: at Maine Friday, 7