Chasing not only their first win of since Oct. 13 but their first conference victory, the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team traveled to Providence College for a weekend series to open Hockey East play. However, the results were similar to those seen against St. Lawrence University the previous week, as UMaine was swept again.
UMaine junior goaltender Martin Ouellette earned the start for Friday night’s game, which began with promise, as UMaine was the first team on the board. This was a plus in more than one light: not only did the offensively struggling Black Bears get on the board first, it was their first power play goal of the season. UMaine was 0-26 in power play opportunities before sophomore forward Connor Leen was assisted by sophomore forward Stu Higgins and freshman defenseman Ben Hutton to give UMaine a 1-0 lead 8:24 into the first period.
Providence would even the game up with a power-play goal of their own 10 minutes later when freshman defenseman John Gilmour was assisted by junior forward Derek Army and senior forward Tim Schaller to tie the game at one goal a piece 18:26 into the first period.
The score would remain 1-1 through the entirety of the second period, but penalties were abundant. UMaine as a team was given a penalty 6:55 into the second period, one of six penalties handed out in the period to both teams.
The third period got off to a quick start, with Providence taking the lead only 2:56 into the game. Sophomore forward Drew Brown put the Friars up 2-1 with assistance from redshirt freshman forward Noel Acciari and senior defenseman Myles Harvey.
A little more than 2 minutes later, Providence extended their lead again when freshman forward Steven McParland hit one into the net with the assists being credited to Harvey and Brown.
UMaine senior defenseman and co-captain Mike Cornell was not going to let the Black Bears finish the game being down 3-1, and with 8:38 played in the third period, Cornell lifted the Black Bears to their second goal of the night, being assisted by junior forward Mark Anthoine and senior forward Nick Pryor. Even though he is a defenseman, Cornell led the Black Bears offensively with six shots on goal, scoring one.
Providence was able to hang on to the 3-2 lead, taking game one of the series. Ouellette saved 24 shots while Providence freshman goaltender Jon Gilles of South Portland, Maine saved 27 shots on the night.
In Saturday night’s game, junior goaltender Dan Sullivan was the starting goaltender for the Black Bears, but switching goaltenders didn’t stop Providence from scoring right out of the gate.
Providence sophomore forward Ross Mauermann scored his fourth goal of the year 1:26 into the first period, with the assist coming from junior defenseman Steven Shemansky and freshman forward Paul de Jersey.
UMaine and Providence went 4-on-4 10:03 into the period, after a Cornell slashing penalty occurred at 9:59 into the first period and Providence freshman center Mark Jankowski going to the box for holding four seconds later. Providence was able to score during the 4-on-4 when Schaller and Gilmour assisted sophomore forward Shane Luke to give the Friars a 2-0 lead 10:23 into the first period.
Providence was able to capitalize on a tUMaine penalty again, this time with an advantage. After UMaine senior forward Joey Diamond inched closer to the school record of penalty minutes with a hitting from behind penalty 7:36 into the second period, Providence junior defenseman Kevin Hart was assisted by de Jersey and Luke to extend the Friar lead 3-0 with 8:04 played in the second period.
UMaine’s offense was unable to generate as many shot opportunities as Providence, as the Black Bears fired 26 on Gillies and Sullivan stopped 39 of 42. UMaine was also unable to take advantage of their six power play opportunities, making them 1 for 36 on the year.
The losses drop the Black Bears to 1-6 on the year and 0-2 in Hockey East.
The Black Bears will have to figure out the right mix of players for next weekend, as highly skilled Boston College and University of New Hampshire teams visit the Alfond Arena. UNH has not lost this year, sporting a record of 4-0-1. BC is not far behind with a 4-1-0 record.
Maine and BC square off Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. while the Black Bear-Wildcat rivalry is scheduled to be renewed Sunday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. Both games will be played at the Alfond Arena.