NORTH ANDOVER, MA - Mike Collins (Boston, MA) picked up his first career hat trick, while Joe Cucci (Melrose Park, IL) added a career-best four assists as 14th-ranked Merrimack downed Vermont 7-1 in front of the fifth sellout crowd of the season Saturday night at Lawler Arena.
Merrimack (15-5-4, 9-5-3 HEA) will conclude its season-series with Northeastern Friday night at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena while Vermont (5-15-4, 3-11-3 HEA) will host Providence next Friday.
The victory gives the Warriors their first-ever seven-victory month since joining Hockey East. They went 7-1 in January, 4-1 at home.
Senior captain Chris Barton (Calgary, AB) tallied two goals and an assist, becoming the first Warrior since Anthony Aquino in 2002 to net 100 points. He is just the 10th Warrior to accomplish the feat since they joined Hockey East.
The Warriors came out flying, as Barton, Collins and Carter Madsen (Okotoks, AB) all netted first-period goals giving the hosts the 3-1 lead through one period.
Barton picked up his 10th of the year and second of the game, getting a rebound off an Adam Ross (Red Deer, AB) shot from the point at 6:29 of the second.
Merrimack never relented, scoring three times 2:49 apart early in the third, as Barton set up Collins on the power play at 4:34 for his second of the game.
Ryan Flanigan (Rochester, NY) made it 6-1, knocking in a loose puck off a Fraser Allan (North Battleford, SK) shot at 6:07 for his seventh of the season.
Collins wrapped up the scoring with his first-collegiate hat trick, ending Madore's night 16-seconds later with a wrister over his glove.
In addition to multi-point nights for Collins, Cucci, and Barton, Flanigan (goal, assist), Madsen (goal, assist), and Stephane Da Costa (Paris, France) (two assists) also posted two points in the victory.
Merrimack's power play was 3-for-6 in the victory, while the nation's second-ranked penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5.
The Warriors outshot Vermont 37-23, including 15-8 in the first, as Joe Cannata (Wakefield, MA) stopped 14 shots before giving way to Sam Marotta (Bridgewater, MA), who turned aside all eight shots he faced.
The 15th win of the season for the Warriors is one shy of last year's output of 16, which was the most they accomplished since joining Hockey East.