The University of Maine men’s hockey team earned its first two wins of the season, sweeping the Vermont Catamounts by scores of 3-2 and 4-1 at the Alfond Arena. Third-year defender Dan Renouf notched two goals and an assist in the Black Bears winning effort Friday night, followed by two shorthanded goals in game two to finish out the sweep.
Renouf tallies three points, lifts Black Bears to 3-2 win
After 11 long, winless contests, the Maine Black Bears hockey team got the proverbial monkey off its back, defeating Hockey East conference foe the University of Vermont Catamounts by a score of 3-2 Friday night at the Alfond Arena.
Third-year defender Dan Renouf paved the way for the Black Bears, notching points on all three Maine goals, two of which he scored on the power play.
Renouf’s offensive play helped the Black Bears grab a 3-0 lead just eight minutes into the middle period, and his defensive prowess helped Maine hold back a late Catamounts surge to hang on for the Black Bears first win of the season.
Maine opened scoring for the first time in six games when third-year forward Blaine Byron deked the Vermont goalie and found the back of the net for a 1-0 Black Bears lead.
Renouf sent a pass to fourth-year captain Steven Swavely, who skipped the puck to Byron in the slot. Byron lost the puck through the legs of a Catamounts defender, but recovered and deked around a poke check from third-year goaltender Mike Santaguida and clapped the puck into an empty net. It was Byron’s first goal since playing Michigan State in the first game of the season.
Renouf would score back to back goals to triple the Black Bears lead. The first was an unassisted rising wrist shot that found twine through traffic. Santaguida was heavily screened on the play, losing sight of the puck before it was too late.
Renouf poked in his second goal of the contest on the goal line early in the middle period. Third-year forward Cam Brown and first-year defender Rob Michel helped set up Renouf, who sent a puck off the pads of Santaguida, then located the puck and poked it in for a 3-0 Black Bears lead.
Vermont would come storming back with two unanswered goals, but Black Bears fourth-year goaltender Matt Morris would help Maine hang on. Third-year defender Rob Hamilton and third-year forward Mario Puskarich would notch goals to bring Vermont within a goal with under five minutes remaining in the contest.
Morris finished strong, holding back the Catamounts offensive in the final moments to secure his first win of the season in the crease for the Black Bears. Morris was battered in the third period, as Vermont outshot Maine 23-2, but Morris stood tall. With the win, Morris moves to 1-2-1 in net this season.
Vermont heavily outshot Maine in the contest 41-29. Santaguida finished the contest with 26 saves for Vermont and moves to 3-7-2 on the season in net. Morris stopped 39 of 41 shots for Maine.
Maine was successful on the power play, converting two of their five opportunities with a man advantage. Their penalty kill thwarted all three Vermont power play chances.
Two shorthanded goals help Maine complete the sweep
Maine finished their sweep on Saturday night, with a 4-1 win. Despite being outshot, the Black Bears made the most of their opportunities, especially on special teams.
Three of Maine’s goals came on the special teams, as the Black Bears netted two shorthanded goals and a power play goal in the first period of play.
Maine third-year forward Cam Brown and fourth-year forward Steven Swavely each scored a shorthanded goal, on the same penalty kill. Second-year forward Nolan Vesey also scored on the power play for Maine.
The lone goal for the Catamounts came early in the first, scored by third-year forward Brady Shaw.
It was a battle between two good goaltenders, as both Maine fourth-year goaltender Matt Morris and Vermont’s goaltender Mike Santaguida played well.
Morris made 35 saves on 36 shots en route to his second straight win of the season. Santaguida made 16 saves while taking the loss.
“Overall I think the team played really well in front of me and that helped me with my confidence,” Morris said on his performance. “Both nights they really pushed the pace which was great. I can feed of my defenseman and forwards’s energy in front of me and I saw the puck well.”
The Catamounts outshot the Black Bears in every period, due to the fact that they had seven power play opportunities in the game. Maine’s defense would hold, and keep Vermont 0-7. The Black Bears went 1-3 on the power play.
“They certainly made our power play look completely inept, and I’ll take the blame for that,” Vermont Head Coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Our power play was an absolute disaster and our penalty kill wasn’t much better.”
The first period quickly developed into a fast-paced scoring frenzy, with four goals scored in the frame.
The first came at the 4:51 mark, when a breakdown in coverage led to an excellent scoring chance for the Catamounts. first-year forward Liam Coughlin was able to win a puck battle on the near boards, and fed Shaw at the top of the circle.
Shaw was able to spin into the slot unchecked, and made a move to the backhand and slid the puck through Morris’s legs to give Vermont a 1-0 lead.
Maine would not take long to answer, getting two shorthanded goals in 12 seconds to take the lead during a second-year forward Cedric Lacroix tripping minor.
The first of the two goals came on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush. Third-year forward Blaine Byron chipped the puck off the boards and moved right around the defense in the neutral zone. Brown was able to trek down the ice as well, creating a passing option.
Byron stick-handled around the defender and slid the puck across the slot to Brown, who tapped it into the empty net to tie the game.
“[Byron] just pulled to the backhand, an unbelievable pass and I just had an empty cage to tap it into,” Brown said on his goal.
Maine took the lead just seconds later, when Swavely stole the puck right off the face-off and beat the defense to the net. He made a quick fake to the backhand before sliding the puck five-hole on Santaguida.
The Black Bears would add a power play goal at the 16:22 mark in the second period when a elbowing penalty to fourth-year defenseman Alexx Privitera would put Maine on the man advantage.
Maine quickly established a cycle in the offensive zone, and got the puck to a wide open Vesey at the top of the near circle. Vesey’s long wrist shot made its way through traffic and beat Santaguida five-hole again to increase Maine’s lead to 3-1.
“We came out stronger, we were winning more battles in the third. We played more on our toes and playing the way we did the whole game rather than just sitting back,” Brown said on his team’s play.
The second period saw a lot of power play time for Vermont, who were not able to take advantage of four Maine penalties in the frame.
“Our team has done well on the penalty kill all year long,” Maine Head Coach Red Gendron said. “They did a terrific job they weekend obviously. It’s about the players playing well.”
“Everybody did a great job, we kept the game simple and that’s all we can do,” Morris added.
The Catamounts came closest to scoring when Coughlin hit the post late in the period, after he turned into the slot and found some shooting space. His shot went over the blocker of Morris, but found nothing but iron.
Vermont outplayed Maine again in the third period, outshooting the Black Bears 10-2. Morris held strong in his net, stopping all 10 shots and helping the defense kill two Catamount power plays.
With just under three minutes to play, the Catamounts elected to pull Santaguida for the extra skater.
That would prove costly, Maine third-year forward Brady Campbell added the empty netter to seal the 4-1 win.
“For me the way we played the game from start to finish was pretty good. To me the only thing was the number of penalties we took,” Gendron said after the game.
“Full marks go to our players through the entire weekend. A very difficult one, and they endured. As a coach…you’ve seen it all before. The challenge was keeping the players confident,” Gendron added.
After the series, Maine improves to 2-8-3 (2-4-0 HE) while Vermont slips to 3-8-2 (2-4-2 HE). Maine will remain at home for the next series on Nov. 27 and 28 versus the Princeton Tigers.