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Monday, Sept. 15, 10:41 a.m.
Sports

Men’s ice hockey splits weekend series with Vermont, captures first points in Hockey East

ORONO – The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team began a season-high four-game homestand by beating the University of Vermont Catamounts Friday night before their comeback bid fell short in game two on Saturday.

UMaine senior netminder Martin Ouellette started both games, accruing a shutout to lead the Black Bears in game one before allowing four goals in the loss the following evening. Ouellette is now 4-4-1 in 2013.

The Black Bears still hold the edge in the all-time series with Vermont with a record of 21-17-4 against the Catamounts.

UMaine sits in seventh place in Hockey East in the early going, just one point back from UVM, who is deadlocked with three other teams for the third spot.

The Black Bears — 4-4-1 overall, 1-2-1 in Hockey East — will try to start another winning streak in the Alfond when they take on another conference foe in the Boston University Terriers Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.

The Catamounts — 3-3-1 overall, 2-2-0 in Hockey east — host No. 5/6 Providence College for a two-game set Nov. 15-16.

 Ouellette, late power play goals boost UMaine past Vermont

The Black Bears began their 2013 campaign with four straight wins on home ice for the first time since the 2006-07 season by besting the Catamounts 2-0 Friday night behind Ouellette’s shutout and power play goals by sophomore defenseman Ben Hutton and sophomore forward Steven Swavely late in the third period.

The game was a physical, tightly-checked battle for the first 50 minutes, with both teams struggling to find the back of the net.

Hutton’s goal on the Black Bears’ fifth power play of the night, a 5-on-3 chance, finally broke the scoring drought with just under five minutes remaining in regulation. Swavely added the insurance marker by beating Vermont sophomore goaltender Brady Hoffman with two minutes left to seal it.

The Catamounts had killed off 24 straight penalties before Friday night’s game against UMaine, including a 12-12 effort against the second-ranked power play unit in the nation in No. 4 Notre Dame University.

“It was a big win,” UMaine head coach Dennis Gendron said. “It’s our first Hockey East win, and we want to get points in the league, so that was big. Two teams that were struggling to score and we got a chance on the power play late, 5-on-3 — the guys made a play and scored.”

“The better team won tonight,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “I just didn’t think we played very well tonight, to be honest with you. I didn’t think we had enough of a full, complete roster that was willing to pay a price to try and win this hockey game. We’re in a 0-0 hockey game with five minutes to go and we take an absolutely terrible penalty — two terrible penalties really — and we just give the game away.”

Although the defenses kept the quality scoring chances to a minimum throughout the night, both goaltenders were called upon to make key saves in a tightly-fought first period that saw both teams carry the play in spurts.

Ouellette made three huge stops around the 10-minute mark of the opening period before Hoffman stoned UMaine sophomore forward Ryan Lomberg on a wrist shot from the left slot with five minutes remaining until intermission.

Hoffman finished with 36 saves in his first start this season, while Ouellette stopped all 23 shots he faced to come away with the shutout victory.

“I thought both goalies played really well tonight,” Sneddon said. “I don’t think there were a lot of grade-A opportunities. We certainly had some good looks at times and they had some good looks at times. For Hoff, his first game of the year, he made some key saves for us.”

“Even though we had the better of the play for parts of the game, Vermont had some glorious chances and [Ouellette] made 3-5 spectacular saves,” Gendron said. “Obviously if they score on that, the game’s a lot different. It was a great team win.”

The physical play continued in the second and third. Although a lot of the action occurred along the boards and in the neutral zone, both teams saw scoring opportunities.

UMaine freshman forward Brian Morgan missed wide on a backhand in the slot, senior forward Jon Swavely hit the crossbar on a shorthanded opportunity and Lomberg was denied on a rebound chance in the middle period.

Vermont had their best chance of the night on a one-timer from the slot that was saved by Ouellette early in the third period before a few quality looks on the power play later in the frame.

Hutton’s game-winner came 11 seconds after UMaine was granted a 5-on-3 advantage after Vermont senior forward Connor Brickley was given a game misconduct for intentionally tripping a UMaine skater into the boards.

Sophomore forward Devin Shore fed Hutton for a one-timer from just below the right circle that beat Hoffman top shelf for his third goal of the year. UMaine remained on the power play for the remainder of the game due to Brickley’s game misconduct, leading to Steven Swavely’s second marker of the season on a wrist shot that beat Hoffman low on the glove side.

“I thought we battled really hard,” Hutton said. “We didn’t bury any in the first two periods but we just kept battling and ended up getting the win. If we outcompete teams we’re going to continue to win.”

The Black Bears finished 2-7 with the man advantage while holding the Catamounts to an 0-4 effort on the power play. UMaine also held the edge in shots 38-23.

“I feel our D contained their offense pretty well the whole game,” Ouellette said. “They only got about 20 shots tonight so I can’t complain about that. The guys played well, especially on the PK, they didn’t get much. We’re all pretty satisfied tonight.

“We didn’t want to go 0-2-1 after three games,” he added. “Last weekend we didn’t play bad hockey [against the University of Massachusetts], but we didn’t play well enough to win a game, so we had to battle through some adversity tonight. That win was huge for us.”

Vermont holds on for 4-3 win after late UMaine onslaught

The Catamounts handed the Black Bears their first loss on home ice Saturday night thanks to four unanswered goals in the second and third periods. UMaine fought hard in the back half of the final period to climb within one but eventually fell 4-3 after their comeback bid came up short.

The physical play from Friday night’s matchup carried over into the first period Saturday, with the Black Bears seeing more of the puck thanks to three power play opportunities despite not finding the back of the net.

UMaine freshman defenseman Eric Schurhamer gave the Black Bears the 1-0 lead on a 4-on-3 advantage with just under 12 minutes remaining in the second period for his first collegiate point before Vermont rallied off three quick goals heading into the second intermission.

“You can’t win if you don’t play for 60 minutes,” Gendron said. “The score was 1-0, we thought we had it won, and that’s how we played the rest of the second period. That’s essentially where the game was lost.”

Vermont freshman defenseman Chris Muscoby was credited with the first Catamount goal, the first point of his career, after his attempted centering pass took a redirection off a UMaine stick and past Ouellette to tie it up.

They went ahead on the power play two minutes later on a goal by freshman forward Brady Shaw after a long scrum in front of Ouellette. Sophomore forward Robert Polesello and junior forward Jake Fallon were given assists.

They finished up the second period scoring with 43 seconds remaining  to go up 3-1 heading into the third. Freshman forward Mario Puskarich won a battle in the corner before walking the puck in front and stuffing it by Ouellette for the two-goal lead.

Vermont outshot UMaine 20-10 in the middle stanza. They carried that momentum into the third period on a breakaway goal by senior forward Chris McCarthy 9 minutes in after the Black Bears coughed up the puck along their own blue line.

“I think they call it human nature,” Gendron said when asked why his team seemed to get complacent following their go-ahead goal in the second.

“It is painful to win a hockey game. You must compete for 60 minutes. And if you think you have it won, you can avoid pain and seek pleasure and not work hard and not battle and not get slashed and poked and hit – but that’s how you lose.”

The Black Bears began their comeback with seven minutes left, with senior forward Mark Anthoine netting his team-leading fifth goal of the season past Vermont freshman goaltender Mike Santaguida.

Freshman forward Blaine Byron scored his third of the year off fellow freshman forward Cam Brown’s second assist of the night to bring the score to 4-3 with under two minutes remaining.

UMaine earned a power play and pulled Ouellette in favor of the 6-on-4 advantage with under a minute to play but could not beat Santaguida to send the game to overtime despite a couple of golden chances in the final moments.

“I like the way our team competed for most of the night tonight. I thought building the 4-1 lead after going down 1-0 – I give our guys a lot of credit,” Sneddon said. “What I didn’t like tonight was how we played in the third period. I thought Maine played an unbelievable third period. The fans were certainly feeding the energy in the building and quite frankly, we were lucky to come away with the win at the end.”

“In the third period we played our tails off, but that obviously wasn’t enough,” Gendron said. “I suppose you can say that’s good, but we needed to push back in the second period. If we had pushed back in the second we might’ve won this game, but we waited to the third, and you saw what happened.”

Ouellette finished with 29 saves on 33 shots in the loss, while Santaguida produced 31 stops on 34 shots in net for Vermont.

The Catamounts were 1-5 on the power play while holding the Black Bears to 1-10 with the extra skater.

Saturday’s win was Sneddon’s 200th career victory and 150th behind the Vermont bench.