ORONE, Me. — Everyone knew that Martin Kariya had great vision for the ice. But no one knew that he had such great vision for the goal. The junior from North Vancouver, British Columbia scored four times, including three in a row in the third period, while assisting on Maine’s other goal in a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Providence Friars at Alfond Arena.
“He was excellent,” Maine interim head coach Tim Whitehead said of Kariya’s performance. “Marty had a great performance. In that situation [falling behind] you need someone to step up. We’re fortunate, because we have a different guy do it every night.”
Kariya scored the first goal of the game 5:37 into the first on the power play. He took a give and go pass from Colin Shields in the middle of the slot and took a shot. Providence goalie Nolan Schaefer made the stop, but Kariya followed the rebound and put it home on a backhand.
The Friars scored the next three goals unanswered; the first of which came from Peter Zingoni at 17:50 of the second. Jon DiSalvatore came down the middle in a two-on-two with Zingoni. DiSalvatore took a shot that was stopped by Mike Morrison. He left a rebound to the left slot, where Zingoni pounced on it, beating Morrison, who dove across the goalmouth in vain to stop it.
The Friars netted two quick ones in the third period, and it looked like the trend of third period collapses might continue for the Black Bears. Devin Rask scored his fifth of the year on a rebound. Morrison was on his back in the crease after his initial save and Rask deflected the puck off of Morrison’s chest and into the net at 1:52.
The next goal came short-handed, and in the eyes of Morrison, was ugly. Morrison came out to play a puck in his right corner. Mike Lucci forechecked aggressively, and Morrison’s clearing attempt hit him and bounced to the boards. Lucci gathered it in, turned around and threw it toward the net. Morrison was back in goal, but not set. He stood still as the puck bounced off of his left pad and into the net at 5:37.
“I saw [Lucci] and I thought he was going to back off,” Morrison said. “When he stayed close, I got nervous. I should have put it behind the goal, out of harm’s way. I got back in my net, but I wasn’t ready for him to throw it at my legs like that. It was a smart play by him.”
After the goal, Whitehead called a timeout to try and stem the tide.
“I told them that we were out-playing them and that we were going to come back, tie this thing up and end it before OT,” Whitehead said.
The team bought into what its coach said. Maine started taking the play to Providence and their pressure paid off at 8:11. Kariya hit Michael Schutte cutting to the net from the right wing. Schutte went on untouched on Schaefer and beat him five-hole with a quick wrist shot to make 3-2 Friars.
Kariya scored his second of the night, and the game-tying goal, at 11:37 on a play similar to the Lucci goal. Kariya carried the puck to the right corner and threw the puck at the net from near the goal line. His shot was fast and it deflected off of Schaefer’s skate and in.
He completed the hat trick only nine seconds later when he got wide open in the middle of the slot. Schutte found him with a pass from the corner. Kariya roofed a wrister glove side to make 4-3 Black Bears.
“I got a good release on it,” Kariya said of his third of the game. “I banked it off the post and it went in.”
Kariya completed a natural hat trick in the period by capitalizing on a turnover in front. A weak clearing attempt found his stick in the middle of the slot. He roofed one stick side, this time, to make it 5-3 Maine with only 1:32 left in the game. The goal was his ninth on the season.
DiSalvatore scored for the Friars with 33 seconds left, but it was too little, too late.
“Momentum killed us,” said Providence coach Paul Pooley. “They got one, two, three, and we didn’t come back. We need to learn to turn the faucet off and calm it down and make smart plays.”
“I don’t know how to explain it,” DiSalvatore said after the game. “Sometimes, guys are going to fire like Kariya did tonight. But that’s really no excuse for what we had going for us. We had that game.
“The loss is tough to swallow, but we had a lot of guys step up and play well tonight. We’re going to have a better second half of the season.
Morrison attributes the win to heart. “Everyone kept battling,” he said. “We kept fighting. No one lost any confidence in me, and we all battled back together. It was a great win.”
“That was our first good comeback win in the third,” Kariya said. “We’d come back in the second before, but not the third. This is good, but it’s just one game. We have to keep it in perspective.”
Maine (10-6-3, 5-2-1 Hockey East) will take on Dartmouth in a non-conference game on Sunday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. Providence (8-11-1, 4-7-0 Hockey East) is off until next Friday, when they host Boston University at Schneider Arena.