DURHAM, N.H. — Colin Hemingway broke open a 1-1 third-period deadlock with his second power-play goal of the night, and Sean Collins added an insurance goal to lead New Hampshire over Maine, 4-1. Darren Haydar assisted on three goals prior to an empty-netter by Lanny Gare.
The Black Bears had taken an early 1-0 lead, but Hemingway’s second-period goal on the man advantage evened it to set up the decisive third period.
Combined with an overtime win over Boston College one night earlier, New Hampshire took four league points on the weekend and went to 9-2-2 overall and 6-1-2 in Hockey East. The Wildcats’ 14 points put them atop Hockey East, two points ahead of UMass-Lowell, which also won, 3-2 over Boston University. Lowell holds one game in hand.
“As the game went on, we got stronger and played a solid game against a real good hockey team,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “I’m obviously thrilled with the weekend overall. Getting four points in Hockey East is terrific. Any time you can do that, it’s a major plus.”
The matchup paired two teams on four-game winning streaks with much of their success due to strong specialty teams. The Black Bears got the early edge in that category, controlling UNH’s league-leading power play in the first period while scoring one themselves.
The Wildcats had the last laugh, however, with Hemingway’s two strikes on the man advantage in the second and third.
“The difference in our penalty kill between the first period and the second and third is that we weren’t giving them any second shots in the first period and we were bubbling around our net very effectively,” said interim Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “In the second and third periods, we gave up second shots and we gave up little tuck-ins from off the side of the net.
“That was the game-winning goal, a give-and-go down low and he walked out from below the goal line. They weren’t getting to the front of our net in the first period. Eventually, if they’re going to get a lot of whacks at it and screens in front, they’re going to score.”
With the loss, Maine falls to 7-5-2 overall and 3-2-0 in Hockey East.
The first period ended with New Hampshire continuing its season-long practice of always outshooting the opponent in the opening 20 minutes. The 10-7 advantage, however, was considerably more modest than the Wildcats’ recent early domination of foes that had keyed their four-game winning streak.
In fact, Maine ended the period holding a 1-0 lead thanks to a Colin Shields power-play goal. After killing two early penalties very effectively, Maine struck at 8:27. Shields, a freshman, scored his 13th of the year, putting in the rebound of a Prestin Ryan shot from the point.
From that time on, UNH goaltender Matt Carney was rock solid. With three minutes left in the first, he stoned Martin Kariya on the doorstep on the rebound of a Shields shot.
UNH opened the second period on fire with Hemingway a ongoing threat. After failing to convert an excellent chance in the opening minute, the junior scored his 10th at 3:36. Collins passed from the right boards to Haydar behind the net and the senior captain slid it to Hemingway on the left. His quick release beat Maine goaltender Matt Yeats five-hole.
“People get drawn to Darren Haydar,” said Hemingway. I just looked for an opening and he put it right on my stick. All I had to do was just direct it into the net.”
The assist marked Haydar’s 100th Hockey East point.
Midway through the period Maine rallied, but could not beat Carney. During one Maine power play, the goaltender stoned Maine’s top scorer, Niko Dimitrakos, three straight times.
In the third, UNH had a golden opportunity to take the lead at the 5:30 mark, but Josh Prudden hit the post with the net open following tic-tac-toe passing from Hemingway to Gare to Prudden. Nonetheless, Maine was assessed a penalty on the play and Hemingway got the game-winner on the resulting advantage, coming from the goal line to beat Yeats out front on a rebound of his own shot.
“Darren Haydar just made a great pass down to me,” he said. “In that situation, I’m just supposed to go to the net hard. I did that and followed my rebound. Luckily it was still there and I banged it home.”
Haydar completed his three-assist evening with the best of them all, a home run pass from deep in the defensive zone to a streaking Collins, who blasted past a defender, deked Yeats, and put it in the net.
The Maine goalie made a big save on Hemingway with six minutes left off a turnover in the defensive zone to keep a glimmer of hope alive for the Black Bears, but with 25 seconds remaining that was extinguished by Gare’s empty-net goal.