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NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Chris Barton (Calgary, AB) picked up five points while Adam Ross (Red Deer, AB) had a career-high three points as 12th-ranked Merrimack moved into third place with its 17th win, most in its Hockey East history, in an 11-2 victory over UMass Saturday night at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (17-5-4, 11-5-3 HEA) will take on #6 New Hampshire next weekend in a home-and-home series beginning Friday at the Whittemore Center. UMass (6-15-4, 5-10-4 HEA) will host #14 Boston University on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS College Sports.
The 11 goals are the most for a Merrimack team since defeating BC 11-5 on February 15, 1997. It also was the most goals the Warriors ever scored against UMass.
Moving into a third-place tie with BU, Merrimack improved to 9-1 in its last 10 games and 9-2-1 at home this season as 13 different players picked up points, including Brendan Ellis (Kelowna, BC), who scored his first-career goal and had a career-high three points.
The 17 victories in just 24 games this year are the most in the program's history since joining Hockey East 22 years ago. Merrimack won 16 last year, which set a school record at the time.
For Ross, it was his second-career multi-point game and his first three-point game in his 128th career appearance. After Barton had a career-high four points Friday night, the senior captain had five points in tonight's victory, giving him 12 points in his last three games.
Merrimack's power-play, which has 10 goals in its last four games, struck twice 1:24 apart late in the first and four times in the game, giving the hosts the 3-1 lead through one period behind goals from Fraser Allan (North Battleford, SK), Joe Cucci (Melrose Park, IL) and Barton.
Allan netted his first since February 26, 2010, blasting a slapper at 6:39 over the glove of Paul Dainton from Barton and Cucci to put the Warriors in front. After Danny Hobbs tallied a four-on-four goal at 16:44, Cucci scored his fourth of the weekend off great touch passes from Barton and Brandon Brodhag (Brooklyn Park, MN) at 18:28 to put Merrimack back ahead. Then just six seconds into a power play, Barton redirected a wrister from Brodhag at 19:52 for his 11th of the season sending Merrimack to the locker room with the 3-1 lead.
Merrimack poured it on in the second scoring four times in a 10:19 span as Jeff Velleca (Waterbury, CT, Jesse Todd (Camrose, AB), Ross and Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) all potted goals, ended the evening for goaltender Paul Dainton.
Velleca took feeds from Barton and Ross at 2:00 for his second of the weekend and fourth of the year. Todd knocked in a rebound off a wrister from Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY), with the teams skating four aside at 7:00. At 9:54, Ross netted his first of the year as his shot from the point went through the legs of Dainton after he took a feed from Da Costa, who dribbled through the offensive zone, creating plenty of space for the senior captain's shot. Then at 12:19, Ross and John Heffernan (Scituate, MA) set up Da Costa, who dribbled through two Minutemen and blasted a bullet over the glove of Paul Teglia, who had just replaced Dainton in goal.
Todd, Flanigan, Ellis and Barton each scored in the third, as Merrimack outshot the Minutemen 20-8 in the final stanza.
Eleven different Warriors had multi-point efforts, including Brodhag, who had a career-high three helpers. Flanigan and Da Costa each tallied a goal and two assists, while Heffernan had a career-high two assists.
Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) stopped 19 shots in the win, before giving way to Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, MA), who turned aside six shots.
With points on each of the Warriors' first four goals, Barton picked up points on the first eight Merrimack goals of the weekend, while Cucci had points on the first six. In their last three games, the duo has combined for seven goals and 22 points.