Merrimack College brought the curtain down on the University of Maine’s first hockey season under head coach Ben Barr as early second-period goals by Filip Forsmark and Matt Copponi gave the sixth-seeded Warriors a 3-0 lead and they went on to oust the Black Bears from the Hockey East playoffs with a 6-2 win at Lawler Rink.
Merrimack, now 19-14-1, will advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals on Saturday, while 11th-seed UMaine, playing without three of its top five defensemen due to injury, concluded a 7-22-4 campaign.
Steven Jandric’s power play goal 12:23 into the game gave Merrimack a lead it would never relinquish. After Forsmark and Copponi expanded the lead, UMaine’s Lynden Breen sliced it to 3-1 with 6:11 left in the second period.
But Max Newton’s fourth goal in four games against UMaine this season restored the three-goal cushion 3:45 into the third period and Liam Walsh added a clinching goal at the 11:06 mark.
Newton added an empty netter before UMaine’s Matthew Fawcett capped the scoring.
UMaine lost despite outshooting Merrimack 28-25. Hugo Ollas made 26 stops for the Warriors and Matt Thiessen finished with 19 for UMaine.
“We weren’t as sharp as we were on Saturday night,” said Barr, referring to UMaine’s 8-1 Seniors Night win over Boston University. “Three of their goals came off sloppy plays by us. But Merrimack is better than we are right now. They’re a good team.”
“They have more horses than we do but we’re going to start changing that next week,” Barr added.
Jandric opened the scoring by capitalizing on a UMaine miscue. The Black Bears fanned on a clearing attempt and Jandric pounced on the loose puck and beat Thiessen from in close.
In the second period, the Black Bears turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Forsmark was able to break in alone and he converted.
Copponi made it 3-0 after UMaine’s Nolan Renwick blocked a pair of Merrimack shots. The puck wound up on the stick of Copponi and he scored with a close-range backhander.
Breen scored off a Ben Poisson feed to get the Black Bears within two. But Newton swatted home a rebound early in the third to all but sew up the win.