t to a 1-0 lead when Matt Mangene (Miller Place, N.Y.) tallied a shorthanded goal, his 15th overall, 3:51 into the first period. Mark Nemec (Rouses Point, N.Y.) started the play, looking to clear the zone by tipping the puck to Joey Diamond (Long Beach, N.Y.). Diamond gathered the loose puck and slid a pass out to Mangene in the neutral zone. Mangene carried the puck into the Warrior zone, skating in past the defense and wristing a shot through Merrimack goaltender Joe Cannata's five-hole.
The Warriors answered with a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan (York, Pa.) made the initial save on a slap shot from Jordan Heywood by Rhett Bly was there to clean up the rebound, tying things at one goal a piece. Mike Wills was also credited with an assist on the play.
Merrimack took the lead 13:33 into the opening period when Josh Myers tallied a power play goal. Connor Toomey began the play by winning the face-off back to Myers who carried the puck and slid a shot into the back of the net.
Dan Sullivan came up huge for the Black Bears just 5:36 into the second period when Merrimack's Elliott Sheen skated in on a breakaway but was denied by Sullivan. Sheen received the puck at the blue line and tried to beat the Maine netminder low and to the right; however Sullivan stuck with him the whole time and extended his left leg to make the save while lying flat on his stomach.
Merrimack added a pair of goals, just 20 seconds a part, at the end of the second period to take a 4-1 lead. Simon Demers ripped a shot from the point in which Sullivan was able to kick wide. However, Jeff Velleca snagged the rebound and was able to slide the puck into the open net.
The Warriors lit the lamp for the fourth time when Bly tallied his second goal of the night just 20 seconds later off assists from Dan Kolomatis and Elliott Sheen.
Maine cut the deficit to 4-2 at 8:03 of the final frame. On the power play, Brian Flynn (Lynnfield, Mass.) got the puck on the left post. He slid it to Diamond stationed just outside the crease. The puck them went to Adam Shemansky on the right post who fired it into the back of the net. For Shemansky, it was his 11th goal of the season.
Merrimack added an unassisted empty net goal by Dan Kolomatis with just two seconds remaining in the game to make it a 5-2 final.
The game was marred by a Hockey East playoff record 50 penalties for 184 penalty minutes. Merrimack was whistled for 26 penalties for 98 minutes, while the Black received 24 penalties for 86 minutes. Maine finished the game 1-for-8 on the power play, while Merrimack was 1-for-7.
Merrimack outshot Maine 37-30 in the game.
Maine goalie Dan Sullivan stopped 32 shots in goal. He falls to 20-9-3 on the season. Joe Cannata made 28 saves for the Warriors. He improves to 17-11-7.
The third and final game in the best-of-three series will be held on Sunday, March 11 at 7 PM at Alfond Arena. Fans can purchase tickets at the door or online at www.goblackbearstickets.com(.)