NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Jeff Dimmen’s lower lip quivered, and he held back tears when he was asked about his final goal for the University of Maine men’s hockey team.

In a 6-2 season-ending loss to Merrimack in the Hockey East quarterfinals, the final tally of the season meant little.

“It doesn’t really make a difference, you know,” the senior defenseman said. “It’s the last game of my career.”

Dimmen’s goal was a moot point in the loss, which abruptly ended the Black Bears’ season, one in which they expected to be a contender in the Hockey East playoffs and the NCAA tournament.

Instead, in the second game of the best-of-three series, the Black Bears (17-12-7) simply got beaten in every facet of the game. Maine lost Friday night, 5-4.

“This was not the way we wanted to go out,” Maine captain Tanner House said. “But they capitalized on their home ice.”

Merrimack, the fourth seed in tourney, advanced to the semifinals Friday at TD Garden.

“This is not the kind of result we wanted in the last two games,” Maine goalie Dan Sullivan said. “For whatever reason we didn’t play like we had been in those last seven or eight games.”

In a game they had to win Saturday at Lawler Arena, the Black Bears simply were overpowered.

The Warriors beat the Black Bears on faceoffs, winning 45 of 77. They beat the Black Bears on one-on-one battles to loose pucks. And the Warriors (24-8-4) got their biggest boost from their third line of Ryan Flanigan, Carter Madsen and Elliott Sheen.

They combined for nine points (four goals, five assists) in Saturday’s win, including Madsen’s hat trick.

“We stick to what we do,” Flanigan said. “We don’t try to get away from it and try to dangle guys. We kind of get the puck, put it in a good place and keep control of the puck.”

Furthermore, Merrimack’s third line held Maine’s top line of House, Gustav Nyquist and Brian Flynn to a goal and two assists.

“They maybe were even the difference in that series,” said House, who had an assist. “They created a lot of offense, as well, just by playing good defense.”

Seconds after Sullivan stopped a one-timer by Jeff Velleca at close range, Velleca gave Merrimack a 1-0 lead at 14:01 of the first, taking a long pass from Flanigan, deep in Maine’s end of the ice, to skate in and fire a wrist shot from the slot that beat Sullivan (22 saves).

Maine (17-12-7) appeared to tie the game with less than five minutes left, but after video review officials ruled the puck did not cross the line during a collision with Merrimack goalie Joe Cannata and Robby Dee.

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected] pressherald.com