Ollas stops them all, Merrimack blanks Maine
NORTH ANDOVER — Another weekend, another sweep for the Merrimack men’s hockey team.
After Friday night’s win over New Hampshire, the Warriors dominated Maine last night at Lawler Arena, 5-0. The Warriors have now won seven of their last eight games. The only loss during this stretch? That was two weeks ago at UConn. The Warriors will get a chance to redeem themselves on Tuesday night when the Huskies come to Lawler Arena for a mid-week matchup.
“I’m really pleased with the way we finished the game,” said Merrimack head coach Scott Borek. “I thought a third period was as good as we’ve played the third period all year, just doing the right things and getting ourselves into good positions. I was really pleased with that.”
Merrimack now has 14 wins. The program’s record as a Division I member of Hockey East was 25 wins, set in the historic 2010-11 season. The second-most in this era was 18 wins, which was set the following year (2011-12). The Warriors have a chance to better that mark with seven games left in the regular season, not including playoffs.
The 2010-11 and 2011-12 teams are the only two Merrimack teams to finish better than .500 in the Hockey East era. After this weekend’s sweep, the Warriors sit at 14-11-3.
Merrimack freshman goaltender Hugo Ollas made 28 saves for his first collegiate shutout against the Black Bears. Sophomore goalie Zachary Borgiel backstopped the Warriors to a win against UNH on Friday. The duo has been splitting starts for the last several weeks.
The play of Merrimack’s two goaltenders is one of the biggest factors in this recent run. Sure, the Warriors are scoring in bunches, but the goaltending over the last five weeks has been the best that position has looked since Borek took the Merrimack job in 2018. Borgiel and Ollas have combined to allow two goals or less in seven out of the last eight games. The only game where the Warriors allowed more than three goals was in that loss to UConn two weeks ago.
“They’re very supportive of each other,” he said. “They've been having success together. Each one is responsible for one game on the weekend. I think it's been really positive. And I think when we start playing double weekends again, having the two very different looks in net is helpful.”
That different look, of course, has to do with Borgiel measuring 6-foot-2 and Ollas measuring 6-foot-8, tied for the tallest player in college hockey.
“The goalies are a microcosm of our team in a lot of ways,” Borek said. “They root for each other and I'm really I couldn't be more impressed with them.”
Up front, Merrimack’s top line of Max Newton, Steven Jandric, and Alex Jefferies combined for four of Merrimack’s five goals. The trio finished with 10 total points and 20 shots on goal.
Newton and Jandric played together when they were both at Alaska Fairbanks before transferring to Merrimack.
“It’s going well,” said Jandric, who had two goals. “Jefferies is big, strong and he’s fast. We’re getting to the soft spots on the ice well. We started clicking and it’s good for us to get going, especially now with these games meaning so much in the standings.”
“(Maine) didn’t have an answer for them,” added Borek.
Lately, UConn has been the only team that had an answer for Merrimack. The Warriors get another chance to pass that test on Tuesday night.
Merrimack’s win on Saturday moved the Warriors up to No. 15 in the Pairwise Rankings, which the NCAA uses to select teams for the NCAA Tournament. In the Hockey East standings, the Warriors are now tied for fourth with Providence, but Merrimack has two games in hand on the Friars and they own the tie-breaker.
GAME NOTES: Newton has hit the 30-point mark on the season. He becomes the first Warrior to hit the 30-point plateau since Brett Seney in 2018. … Merrimack’s power play scored twice. The Warriors have at least one power-play goal in each of the last nine games. … The Newton-Jandric-Jefferies line combined for 26 shot attempts. … Merrimack out-attempted the Black Bears 62-50. … With Saturday’s win, Merrimack has won back-to-back games against Maine for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
NEXT: Merrimack will face UConn on Tuesday night at Lawler Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Ed. Note. — A version of this story will appear in Sunday’s edition of The Eagle Tribune
Merrimack 5, Maine 0 at Lawler Arena Maine (4-16-4): 0-0-0--0 Merrimack (14-11-1): 2-1-2--5 First Period: 1. MC Alex Jefferies 5 (Steven Jandric, Max Newton), pp, 5:31; 2. MC Max Newton 11 (Logan Drevitch, Declan Carlile), ev, 13:41. Second Period: 3. MC Ben Brar 8 (Declan Carlile, Zach Vinnell), pp, 7:21. Third Period: 4. MC Steven Jandric 5 (Max Newton, Alex Jefferies), ev, 4:27; 5. MC Steven Jandric 6 (Alex Jefferies, Max Newton), ev, 7:29. Shots: Merrimack 20-13-11--44; Maine 7-14-4--28 Saves: MC Ollas (60:00) 28/28; ME Ostman (59:55) 39/44 Power Play: Merrimack 2 for 3; Maine 0 for 5 Penalties: Merrimack 8-16:00; Maine 5-10:00 Attendance: 2,215 (2,549)