For the second week in a row the University of Maine Black Bears men’s ice hockey team upset their opponent in their weekend series, this time defeating the No. 15 Northeastern University Huskies in a penalty shootout on Friday night.
The Black Bears entered this series 2-3. They just came off a series upset where they knocked off third-ranked Quinnipiac University last Friday 4-0, but then fell to them on Saturday 6-2. The Huskies entered this series coming off a 3-2 loss to UMass Lowell.
In the first game of the series the first two periods were a complete stalemate as neither offense could score thanks to terrific goaltending by both goalies. While the first two periods were uneventful the third made up for it. The Huskies struck first when fourth-year forward Riley Hughes hit a wide-open shot from the left side thanks to assists from fourth-year forward Matt DeMelis and first-year forward Jack Williams. Less than two minutes later Northeastern scored once more when second-year forward Justin Hryckowian picked off UMaine’s pass and found fifth-year forward Jakov Novak for the goal, bringing their lead to two.
After Novak’s goal it appeared as if the Huskies were going to walk out with the victory as they continued to play dominant defense. However, with seven minutes left in the game, first-year forward Killian Kiecker-Olson scored on the power play after his first shot was missed. He rebounded it and sent the puck back up top to fifth-year forward Jakob Sirota, who kicked it back down to Kiecker-Olson. His next shot hit the goal post, scoring the Black Bears’ first goal of the game to make it a 2-1 game.
With two and a half minutes left in the game UMaine desperately needed to score. Third-year forward Donavan Villeneuve-Houle scored on a two v. two breakaway and dragged the puck to the middle where he was able to get separation from the defender to sink a beautiful shot left. Third-year goaltender Devon Levi was not able to save it, tying the game at 2-2 and eventually sending the game into overtime.
In overtime neither team was able to score in the five minutes. The Black Bears had many opportunities as first-year defenseman Brandon Holt, Kiecker-Olson and Sirota all had good shot opportunities, but thanks to terrific goaltending by Levi UMaine could not capitalize. The game then went to a penalty shootout.
In the penalty shootout the Black Bears struck first as Kiecker-Olson got the puck past Levi. UMaine’s third-year goalie Victor Ostman saved Northeastern’s shot, giving UMaine the 1-0 advantage. Next to shoot was fourth-year forward Didrik Henbrant whose shot missed, but Ostman held strong, leaving the game in the hands of fourth-year forward Ben Poisson. His forehand shot got past Levi and won the Black Bears the shootout 2-0.
Both goaltenders and defenses were terrific all night long. Ostman was fantastic for the Black Bears, saving 24 of 26 shots and not giving up a single goal in the shootout. Levi was just as good throughout most of the game saving 22 of 24 shots but giving up two of three in the shootout, which ended up being the deciding factor.
Both teams played physical all night long, combining for 11 penalties — six on Northeastern and five on UMaine. Faceoffs ended up being almost even as the Huskies won 29 while the Black Bears had 24. Third-year forward Lynden Breen led UMaine with an impressive eight of 13 faceoff wins.
In the second of the two-game series the Black Bears did not have the same luck as they fell 4-1 to the Huskies. Northeastern scored three goals in a matter of three minutes in the second period with the first two coming a minute apart, both from fourth-year forward Aidan McDonough. He scored an open goal up close to the net first and then an open slapshot that got past the right side of third-year UMaine goalie Jacob Mucitelli on the power play. Second-year forward Matt Choupani easily got the puck past Mucitelli for a 3-0 lead later on in the period.
The Black Bears finally got on the board when second-year forward Nolan Renwick was left wide open in the middle leading to an easy goal thanks to assists from Villeneuve-Houle and Holt to make it a 3-1 game. It was all for nothing though as UMaine was unable to score for the rest of the game, and with time winding down Novak scored easily after the Black Bears pulled their goalie, officially putting the dagger in the game.
After giving up three goals Mucitelli was pulled in favor of Ostman, who was able to right the ship, but the damage was already done. Mucitelli finished the night saving 12 of 15 shots while Ostman saved all eight shots. Levi was terrific for the Huskies, saving 34 of 35, and along with stellar defense they completely eliminated UMaine’s offense.
Just like the first game, the second competition was a bloodbath as both teams got physical as there were many big hits that resulted in 11 penalties combined for the second night with six being on Northeastern and five being on the Black Bears once again. UMaine dominated the faceoffs, winning 37 and only losing 22, but it never amounted to anything. Kiecker-Olson was the best at them, winning six of nine.
UMaine will go on the road the next two weekend series to face UConn and Merrimack college but will return to Alfond Arena to face American International College on Nov. 26 at 2:05 p.m.