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Copponi's two goals leads Merrimack to sweep of Maine
NORTH ANDOVER — Another weekend, another sweep for Merrimack.
Merrimack beat Maine last night, 5-3, at Lawler Arena to sweep a weekend series from the Black Bears. It’s the second straight weekend the Warriors swept a Hockey East opponent after they dispatched Boston College last weekend.
“It was a hard weekend,” said Merrimack coach Scott Borek. “The whole weekend was a grind. (Maine) played really well. They played us very hard in our own end. We just found a way to win the games and we were fortunate. I was really pleased with how our team battled through the whole 60 minutes.”
For the Warriors, the win was their fifth in a row as they improved to 8-3-0. This is the quickest Merrimack has reached the eight-win mark since 2011-12, when the Warriors started the season 9-0-1 and were ranked No. 1 in the country.
Merrimack is now ranked No. 15 in the Pairwise, which is the rankings system the NCAA uses to select and seed teams for the NCAA Tournament.
It’s early, but the Warriors are also tied with Northeastern for second place in the Hockey East standings and they’re two points behind Connecticut for the top spot in the league. Merrimack has two games in hand on UConn and three games in hand on Northeastern.
“Every night in our league is going to be like tonight,” Borek said. “It was just a grind. I have no idea how many wins the team that wins the league is going to have, but it’s not going to be as many as usual. The league is so balanced.”
Despite the six points, the weekend wasn’t all pretty for the Warriors. Merrimack had a 4-1 lead in the second period but Maine scored back-to-back goals at the end of the second, and then again midway through the third period to make it a one-goal game. Merrimack didn’t register a shot in the third period until there was 2:41 left on the clock.
“When we got the fourth goal we took our foot off the gas a little bit,” Borek said. “That let them back into the hockey game. How many times can you tell your team that you’re playing well but not winning? I’m sure it’s a challenge for them right now but I was very impressed with how hard they played. They had great chances. They made our lives miserable.”
Matt Copponi scored twice for Merrimack and he also scored the Warriors’ only goal in Friday’s 1-0 win over Maine. Copponi, a sophomore, now has five goals on the season. Copponi’s second goal last night came on the power play with just 1.7 seconds left on the clock in the first period.
Defenseman Slava Demin, a transfer, had three assists in the two games.
“(Copponi) is playing so well,” Borek said. “Slava is really comfortable here.”
Demin began his collegiate career at Denver and then spent one season at UMass last year before he transferred to the Warriors this summer as a grad student.
“I feel so good for him,” Borek said. “He made a big decision to come here and in the past, some things just had not worked out for him. He’s a huge part of any success we are going to have this year.”
The Warriors will travel to Bridgeport, Conn. on Thursday to face Sacred Heart.
Merrimack 5, Maine 3 at Lawler Arena Maine (2-8-1): 1-1-1--3 Merrimack (8-3-0): 3-1-1--5 First Period: 1. MC Matt Copponi 4 (Ottoville Leppanen, Slava Demin), pp, 8:37; 2. ME Didrik Henbrant 1 (Donavan Villeneuve-Houle, Luke Antonacci), ev, 11:05; 3. MC Will Calverley 2 (Mike Brown, Ben Brar), ev, 14:16; 4. MC Matt Copponi 5 (Alex Jefferies, Slava Demin), pp, 19:59. Second Period: 5. MC Zach Bookman 1 (Filip Forsmark, Ben Brar), pp, 8:51; 6. ME Felix Trudeau 2 (Lynden Breen, David Breazeale), ev, 15:22. Third Period: 7. ME Lynden Breen 4 (Ben Poisson), ev, 9:38; 8. MC Ben Brar 5 (Ivan Zivlak, Mac Welsher), en, 19:37. Shots: MC 10-8-3--21; ME 10-7-11--28 Saves: MC Borgiel (60:00) 25/28; ME Ostman (58:33) 16/20 Power Play: Merrimack 3 for 3; Maine 0 for 3 Penalties: Merrimack 3-6:00; Maine 3-6:00 Attendance: 2,488