ORONO, Maine — The Maine fans that showed up at Alfond Arena got to see a rare offensive show as the Black Bears exploded for a 9-1 win against the Bowling Green Falcons in
the second semifinal of the Icebreaker Cup.
Fourteen different Black Bears recorded at least a point in the game, while seven of them recorded two or more points. Sophomore forward Todd Jackson and sophomore defenseman Francis Nault led the way with two goals and an assist each, while junior forward Michael Schutte chipped a goal and two assists.
Niko Dimitrakos, Colin Shields, Robert Liscak, and Gray Shaneberger all had
Before the game, Bowling Green coach Buddy Powers made a presentation to Maine’s captain, Peter Metcalf, and the assistant captains, Chris Heisten and Martin Kariya, on behalf of Bowling Green State University. The late Shawn Walsh, Maine’s former head coach, was an alumnus of Bowling Green, class of 1978.
Powers presented Maine with a jersey that said “Walsh” on the back with No. 78. The Black Bears proceeded to hang the jersey next to the Maine jersey that said “Coach Walsh” on the back as a reminder of the presence of their late coach.
Then began a strange new era in Maine hockey, with Tim Whitehead now at the helm.
Maine helped their new coach feel comfortable, dominating play from the start, skating circles around the Falcons, winning every race to a loose puck, and getting every bounce.
Bowling Green standout goalie Tyler Masters kept the Black Bears off the board until a Grady Moore holding penalty put Maine on the power play. After a Dimitrakos shot from a tough angle, Masters gave up a rebound to the slot, and couldn’t find the puck. Lucas Lawson did find it and put it past Masters to give Maine a 1-0 lead at 9:43 of the first.
Colin Shields added to that lead at 13:03 when he streaked down the right wing boards and then ripped a hard wrist shot over the glove of Masters to the near post.
“I was nervous going in,” said Shields. “Then I got that goal, and the team started playing well. We got a couple of goals up, and we got a little more relaxed out there,” Shields said.
Schutte made the game 3-0 Maine on the power play only 1:39 after the Shields goal. Kariya found the puck on his stick after a Falcon clearing attempt failed. He slid the puck to Shields, who then found Schutte for the one-timer and the easy goal.
Liscak scored only 52 seconds into the second on a shot from high slot. Nault scored his first of the game on a wicked slapper from the point at 4:35.
Jackson scored the next two and put the game away. He scored from about the same spot in the low slot at 7:47 and 12:24 of the period.
“It wasn’t about who scored. Everybody played their role, and everybody contributed today,” Jackson said. “We’ve been working toward this game since the end of last year. There’s been a lot of emotion lately, and we carried it through the game.”
John Ronan and Nault added goals in the third to send the fans home happy.
“We played hard,” said Whitehead. “I’m pleased with the effort.
“Bowling Green has a great program and they’re well-coached. Our guys wanted
to do something with this tournament, since we’re hosting.”
Whitehead liked that contributions were coming from everywhere.
“That was what I liked the most about tonight,” he said. “We got a lot of
contributions, both offensively, and defensively, out of everyone. It was a good team effort.”
“Maine played with a passion and desire that was just tremendous,” said Powers. “I don’t know if that had a guy that wasn’t flying out there tonight. We couldn’t match their speed and desire.”
Powers said that his team will need to improve from tonight to be successful down the road.
“We have a lot of young guys in the lineup that need to know how to play college hockey,” said Powers. “This won’t just happen here. You go into Michigan, Michigan St., and Northern Michigan, you see this kind of intensity. I told the guys after the second period that they were getting a good education on the way college hockey should be played.”
Maine outshot Bowling Green, 41-18, in the victory. Sophomore defenseman Brian Escobedo scored the lone goal for the Falcons at 18:41 of the second period.
Maine will play for the Icebreaker Cup championship against St. Cloud on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Alfond Arena. Bowling Green will take on Clarkson in the consolation game at 5 p.m.