PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Black Bears had a battle on their hands Sunday against Dartmouth. They had to battle not only the Big Green, but missing three regulars from the line-up.
Chris Heisten and Don Richardson were sidelined with a sprained ankle and broken thumb, respectively, both suffered in Friday night’s win over Providence in Orono. Maine also had to scratch junior Martin Kariya, who had four goals and an assist on Friday, right before the warm-up. He had come down with the flu.
But, they remained resilient and came away with 4-1 win in a home game played at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“I had to juggle things today,” said Maine interim head coach Tim Whitehead. “We brought extra players, because we knew this might happen. I had a lineup with Kariya, without Kariya, and if Kariya started and couldn’t finish.”
Three freshman, Matt Greyeyes, Paul Falco and John Ronan, took the place of the sidelined players, and all filled in admirably. None got any points, but all had some good scoring chances.
Dartmouth also had to juggle things, missing their second-leading scorer, Kent Gillings, and Pete Summerfelt, a key cog to the defense.
Maine took the pressure to Dartmouth early, but freshman netminder Dan Yacey stood tall, making a few great saves out of the gate in his first collegiate start.
“He did a great job,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet. “I figured today would be a good chance to see what he could do. I knew [Maine] would probably get some opportunities, and he handled them very well. He looked like a veteran goalie out there.”
The first goal he gave up was a great individual effort from Todd Jackson.
“When the puck came to my point, I just poke-checked past the defender,” Jackson said. That started him on a breakaway down the left wing with no one in front of him. He deked to the forehand and beat moved around Yacey’s left leg pad.
“I just waited until he committed, and then put it by him.”
Maine went up 2-0 with good puck movement. Jackson got the puck in the left corner and passed to Francis Nault at the blue line. He riffled a slap shot to the front, where Gray Shaneberger tipped it just under the crossbar 4:48 into the second period.
The Big Green got back in the game on the power play. Mike Murray slid the puck back to defenseman Trevor Byrne at the middle of the blue line. He one-timed a slap shot low to the ice that beat Mike Morrison stick side at 8:12, pulling Dartmouth to within one.
“I was screened, I didn’t even see it,” said Morrison. “It skimmed of the top of my [leg] pad. It was a great shot.”
The play was even through the rest of the period, until Dartmouth went on the power play late, and couldn’t get anything going.
Maine cleared the puck toward Yacey. Tom Reimann forechecked aggressively, forcing him to quickly clear the puck. Niko Dimitrakos intercepted it in the middle of the slot and moved in on Yacey, waiting for him to commit. When he did, he slid across the crease to Reimann for an easy tap-in goal at 19:18.
“That goal was the turning point,” Whitehead said. “They were starting to get some momentum from their power play goal, and they were hanging in there. Scoring right before the Zamboni came out was huge.”
“When we got that power play, and we backed off. Our work ethic wasn’t quite there,” said Gaudet. “We coughed up a puck, and it ends up in the back of our net.”
In the third period, the goalies took over. Both Morrison and Yacey made huge saves to keep the score 3-1 Black Bears. With 57 seconds left in the game, Colin Shields iced the game with an empty net goal, his 18th of the season.
Gaudet thought his team played well.
“It was a solid game,” he said. “Maine is a good team. We had to work for everything we got. I was pleased with the effort of our guys with some key players out. We had our chances, but we didn’t cash in.”
“It was a good win,” said Whitehead. “I thought we played a good solid third period. It feels to close that one out.”
Dartmouth (7-6-1, 4-2-1 ECAC) will be at Colgate on Friday night and Cornell on Saturday. Maine (11-6-3, 5-2-1 Hockey East) will hit the road next week to play two at Northeastern on Friday and Saturday.