ORONO, MAINE — Last weekend, Maine had a disappointing effort against the Sacred Heart Pioneers of the MAAC, ending in a 4-4 tie. When Maine faced another MAAC team on Sunday at Alfond Arena, they were determined not to let a poor effort cost them a win again.
Maine came out firing on all cylinders from start to finish on the way to a convincing 9-0 non-conference win over the Quinnipiac Braves.
“We didn’t want that to happen to us again,” said Niko Dimitrakos of the Sacred Heart result. He had four points on Sunday, with two goals and two assists. “When you take games off, anyone can beat you, and we saw that last week.”
“Everyone came to play after last Sunday’s game,” said Colin Shields, who scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season in the game. “That left a bitter taste in our mouths. We gave a better effort today. We knew we’d have to compete right from the start through to the end and give a better effort than last week.”
Maine went on the power play only 1:07 into the game when Todd Bennett took a holding penalty.
“We talked about staying out of the penalty box today,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “Early in the game, we took a stupid penalty because we’re not moving our feet.”
The Black Bears took advantage of that early penalty by scoring their first of four power play goals on the afternoon.
Dimitrakos took a shot that was stopped by a Jamie Holden and kicked to the right of the net. Colin Shields chased it down, swamped by a number of Braves, but still got in front to Michael Schutte, cutting to the net all alone. He scored an easy one to make 1-0 only 1:40 into the game.
“We weren’t taking care of the front of the net,” Pecknold said. “We had four guys standing in the corner.”
Maine took a 2-0 lead on another man advantage. Robert Liscak had the puck on the left wing boards and looked to center it, but Quinnipiac had the passing lanes to the front covered. He made a smart play by looking back to the point, where he found Prestin Ryan making a move to the faceoff circle. Liscak got him the puck and Ryan buried a slapshot over the right shoulder of Holden at 12:44.
Only 1:12 later, Maine got one shorthanded. Poor passing by Quinnipiac led to a Black Bear rush. Martin Kariya chipped the puck into the zone, and then a Quinnipiac defenseman whiffed on a clearing attempt. That’s when Shields found the puck at the Quinnipiac blue line.
“I decided to take a shot,” Shields said. “I scored a couple from there earlier in the year, so I figured ‘what the heck?’” The puck was on edge and knuckled past Holden, giving Maine a 3-0 lead.
After the goal, Pecknold called a timeout and replaced Holden with Justin Eddy.
“Jamie’s played great for us all year. The first two weren’t his fault, but I thought he should have had the third one,” Pecknold said. “I have full confidence in Justin, as well, so I thought that we needed to make a change and call a timeout to reload and refocus. But it didn’t really change the flow of the game.”
Dimitrakos scored the first of his two 1:40 into the second. He got a pass from Tom Reimann along the boards and skated around a defender near the blue line. He shot it through traffic, looking for a rebound, but it ended up squeezing through Eddy’s pads.
Peter Metcalf scored his second of the season on a nice individual effort at 5:54. He skated from the red line and into the zone past two Quinnipiac defenders down the left wing. He then wheeled behind the net and wraped it around the right side of the net.
Dimitrakos netted his second of the game another great individual effort.
“I made a head fake to beat one of the defense and walked around him,” Dimitrakos said. “I think the goalie thought I would shoot five-hole. He made a few saves on me, so I went top shelf.” His shot beat Eddy to the glove side with 39 seconds left in the second, making it 6-0 Maine.
In the third, Maine got a power play goal from Liscak at 2:50, an even strength goal from Ben Murphy at 9:45, and one more from Shields on the power play at 14:37 to close things out.
Mike Morrison stopped 21 shots on the day for his first shutout of the season, running his record 3-1-1.
“Mike was very solid in a game that be very challenging to play in,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “It’s tough when you don’t see a lot of shots, but he was very focused.”
Whitehead was also very pleased with the defensive effort.
“We played very consistently on defense tonight. It’s easy to start thinking offensively in a game like this, but we stuck to coverage, and, consequently, we didn’t give up any goals.”
“Maine is a better hockey team than us,” Pecknold said. “They played a great game. On the other hand, we struggled in all three areas: goaltending, d, and forward. We just had a bad night.”
Maine will lose Prestin Ryan for their next game because of a game disqualification for punching. He took the penalty 3:42 into the third when he punched Neil Breen in the face after Breen had been slashing at him.
The Braves (6-4-0, 4-3-0 MAAC) will head back to conference action next Sunday when the play at Connecticut. Up next for Maine (5-4-2, 2-1-0 Hockey East), will be a non-conference tilt with Brown on Wednesday night at Alfond Arena.