OMAHA, Neb. — Todd Jackson scored two goals to add to his pair Friday night, and Maine showed its firepower again in a rout of Wisconsin at Qwest Center Omaha for a 6-2 win, claiming the Omaha Cup for the Black Bears Saturday night.
Wisconsin played a spirited weekend, winning in overtime to get to the championship game; and against Maine, the Badgers were never really out of the game. They came back early in the second period with a goal by Tom Gilbert, and after Maine tallied twice more, the Badgers showed some poise and put together another pretty goal.
“We had great spirit but at times our spirit was overzealous,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. “We had those mental lapses, which is a sign of a young team.”
The Black Bears were just too strong and dominated the third period. Maine opened the third with a goal just 39 seconds into the frame and killed a four-minute penalty to take the life out of Wisconsin.
“Anytime you can score at the end of a period or the beginning of the period, its big,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Hockey is so fast and such a game of momentum, those things are key.”
Greg Moore started the scoring for Maine early in the first period with one of the team’s three power-play goals. Prestin Ryan then gave Maine a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission, as his blast from the near circle crossed the goal line with less than a second left on the game clock.
Wisconsin came back with Gilbert’s goal to make it 2-1, putting pressure on Black Bear goalie Frank Doyle. At one point in the second, the Badgers trailed the shot margin 16-8, but closed that gap during the mid-period flurry.
However, Maine struck on a shorthander by tournament MVP Todd Jackson.
“Jackson just played so well,” Whitehead said. “It’s great when a senior can emerge like that. He just played with a lot of heart.”
Maine extended the lead to 4-1 but again Wisconsin buzzed back into the game. At 15:58 of the second, Ken Rowe buried a rebound five-hole to pull the Badgers within two. But again Maine struck late in the second, taking the wind out of Wisconsin.
“Early on I thought the game could go either way — it was a weird game that way.” Whitehead said. “I’ve been in that situation before. Sometimes you think, geez, we’re right in this, then all the sudden something bounces and it slips away.”
Maine scored its last power play goal 39 seconds into the third period, driving the nail home. Special teams let Wisconsin down, with Maine getting three power-play goals and a shorthander.
“We had holes in our game,” Eaves said. “We played with heart and played with energy, but there was moments in the game where we had holes and Maine took advantage of us.”
With such a young team, both coaches were impressed with Wisconsin.
“I have a lot of respect for their team,” Whitehead said of the Badgers. “They are very well-coached. By the end of the year, this is not a team we want to play.”
In all, three Black Bears were named to the all-tournament team: Jackson, who had four goals in the tournament, Moore, and goalie Jim Howard, whose shutout of Minnesota got Maine to the championship game.
Tom Gilbert was Wisconsin’s lone representative. Nebraska-Omaha’s Scott Parse and Minnesota’s Judd Stevens also made the list.