ORONO – In the closing seconds, in a thunderous Alfond Arena, Merrimack had six skaters scrambling in the University of Maine zone, trying to get a shot on goal.

But the pucks were blocked, knocked away and, finally, cleared.

The Black Bears held on Sunday night before a crowd of 4,067, beating Merrimack, 2-1.

Maine (22-12-3) is headed to the TD Garden in Boston for the Hockey East final four, and will play Boston University at 8 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.

Maine won the first and third games of this best-of-three series. With the wins, the Black Bears will likely reach the NCAA tournament, regardless of next weekend’s outcome. Merrimack is done at 18-12-7.

“We really came out flying,” said Maine goalie Dan Sullivan, who made 20 saves.

“Our guys were playing our kind of hockey, which makes my job easier.”

Unlike Saturday, when the Warriors were scoring rebound goals, they found little room to roam in Maine’s zone.

“That was something we talked about,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “We blocked a lot of shots and we took away their time and space.”

Maine grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead on a five-on-three power-play goal by Spencer Abbott, set up by Adam Shemansky.

The first penalty against Merrimack was hitting after the whistle — which seemed to address a concern of Maine’s on Saturday that the Warriors were taking extra hits without consequence.

Maine had six power plays to Merrimack’s one.

Just over a minute into the first power play, a hitting-from-behind call went against Merrimack. On the five-on-three, Shemansky passed from the goal line to Abbott, who one-timed it in at 11:38.

“(Shemansky) fired it up to me and I was cocked, ready to fire,” said Abbott, who shot it under Joe Cannata’s blocker.

Abbott set up the next goal on a rush 3:43 into the second period.

Abbott centered a pass to Nick Pryor in the slot, whose shot was blocked. But Brice O’Connor was positioned for the rebound and scored for a 2-0 lead.

“I just headed down and stopped at the net,” O’Connor said. “Pryor got the puck on net, and it was just sitting there for me to bang home.”

Merrimack got one back at 9:16. Jesse Todd’s shot from the right circle was deflected right to Ryan Flanigan into the slot.

He scored on the open net, moving the Warriors to within one at 2-1.

Maine thought it scored a goal late in the second period when Mark Anthoine appeared to stuff a Matt Mangene pass at 18:20. But after the video review, it was ruled the puck went off Anthoine’s skate.

In the third period, Merrimack opened up it, but Maine’s defense continued to stymie the Warriors.

“I thought we played well at times. Obviously not well enough,” Merrimack Coach Mark Dennehy said.

The Black Bears, who have not been to the NCAA’s since 2007, began this year 3-6-2.

“We’ve had our backs against the wall since Thanksgiving and the guys keep responding,” Whitehead said.

“Any time we take a step back, we make a strong leap forward.”

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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Twitter: KevinThomasPPH