Special night for Felton as Merrimack blanks Maine

ORONO, Maine — Christian Felton might be from Ohio, but he said he grew up spending his summers honing his skills at Alfond Arena.

Felton’s uncle is former Maine head coach Tim Whitehead, who is now the coach at Kimball Union Academy.

“Every summer I’d come here,” said the Merrimack sophomore defenseman. “We’d come here during the season to watch my uncle’s teams, too.”

How fitting that Felton scored his first collegiate goal last night back here at Alfond, on that very same ice, helping lead his new team to a 2-0 win over the Black Bears.

“It’s means everything,” Felton said. “I had some space and I saw I had some space down low in the slot. (Liam Walsh) made a great play to get me the puck.”

It was extra special for Felton because his family was in town to watch the series.

In 2007, Felton’s grandmother, Debra Smith, was killed in a car accident on her way to watch Whitehead’s Maine Black Bears play in the Frozen Four. Merrimack head coach Scott Borek knew the history, and knew this would be a special weekend for Felton.

But not even he imagined how special it would end up being.

“To know that story, and then watch him score his first goal in this building, I know it was special to him,” said Borek. “He talked about what happened with us this year. As a team, we talked about some of the worst days of our lives and he brought that up. I knew what happened, because I know Timmy.

“I never said anything to Christian, but I knew coming here this weekend would be special for him. Then to see him score? That was really awesome. I’m really happy for him.”

Shutout for Borgiel

Zachary Borgiel posted his first career shutout for the Warriors, making 18 saves.

“We put an emphasis on blocking shots,” said Borgiel. “It made a big difference for us tonight. It was good to come out here and get a win after (Friday night’s) loss.”

The Warriors blocked 11 shots.

“He played really well,” Borek said. “That was a big difference for us. Last night they got some offensive confidence, and Hugo probably had a tougher night, I think he was challenged more, but to see Zach shut the door, he gave (Maine) no confidence.”

Ben Brar opened the scoring for the Warriors at the 10:01 mark of the first period. Steven Jandric forced a turnover at the blue line and zipped the puck back down low to Max Newton. Without hesitation, Newton found Brar wide open on the weak-side post for the goal.

Brar’s goal was his sixth of the season, which set a new career-high for the junior. The goal was also Brar’s 10th point of the season, which tied his career-high, which he set as a freshman.

The Warriors doubled their lead in the second period when Liam Walsh came out from behind the net and found defenseman Christian Felton pinching to the right circle for a quick one-timer. The goal was the first of Felton’s collegiate career; Felton transferred to Merrimack this past summer after playing his freshman season at Bentley.

Game Notes: Merrimack wore their road blue jerseys while Maine wore their home white shirts. … This weekend’s matchup featured the two tallest players in Division I hockey this season. Merrimack goalie Hugo Ollas and Maine forward Keenan Suthers are both listed at 6-foot-8.

Merrimack 2, Maine 0
at Alfond Arena
Merrimack (5-4-0-3):   1-1-0—2
Maine (1-7-0-1):       0-0-0—0
First Period: 1. MC Ben Brar 6 (Max Newton, Steven Jandric), ev, 10:01.
Second Period: 2. MC Christian Felton 1 (Liam Walsh), ev, 
Third Period: None
Shots: Merrimack 11-7-10—28; Maine 5-5-8—18
Saves: MC Borgiel (60:00) 18/18; ME Thiessen (56:48) 26/28
Power Play: Merrimack 0 for 3; Maine 0 for 3
Penalties: Merrimack 4-8:00; Maine 3-6:00
Attendance: 3,189 (5,712)

This post is for paid subscribers