Merrimack College’s energy line has been the source of headaches for coaches and opposing players throughout Hockey East.
A trio of juniors — Carter Madsen, Elliott Sheen and Ryan Flanigan — make up a line that has perhaps the most ferocious forecheck in the conference.
“That line causes some trouble,” said Providence head coach Tim Army. “They’re right up there in your face and do a real good job forcing turnovers.”
The Warriors haven’t faced a better forechecking unit all year. Boston University is often known for its bone-chilling pressure, but it was the Warriors who had the then No. 1 Terriers on their heels in large stretches of their games last month, playing them to two straight ties.
In two wins over defending national champion Boston College — the Warriors took the season series with the Eagles for the first time in 14 years — the line wreaked havoc on the Eagles defenders trying to re-group in the zone, with Flanigan providing the muscle and Madsen and Sheen bringing the speed and agility to scoop up loose pucks and turn them into scoring chances by going to the net.
The unit has been so good that head coach Mark Dennehy hasn’t split them up once, playing them together in every game this season.
“It’s preparation really,” Madsen said of the line’s success. “We practice and have all of our systems down well and that translates in our games.
“Our line works well together. We’re a hard-working line and we know our role. We get done what we need to get done.”
Sheen and Madsen played together in junior hockey as well, both skating on the same line for the Okotoks Oilers. Flanigan, who played in the EJHL, has an uncanny ability to get under the skin of opponent’s on a nightly basis.
“They can all skate,” Dennehy said. “They all bring something. Sheener is like the Energizer Bunny and Carter is right there with him. Carter also wins draws and sees the ice really well. Then you have Flanny, and he’s the x-factor. He plays hard. I really challenged him at the start of the year and he hasn’t disappointed.”
Mike McMahon, The Eagle Tribune