ORONO, Maine — Brent Shepheard opened a three-goal first period at 8:37 with an unassisted tally for Maine and the Black Bears never looked back, as they downed Massachusetts-Lowell, 4-0 in front of 5,410 at Alfond Arena in an afternoon Hockey East game.
“Maine came out all charged up, and they played well in the first period,” commented UML head coach Blaise MacDonald after the game. “They got a few past Chris Davidson, who I thought was the best player in the building tonight. This is a very tough place to come from behind, especially when you look at the makeup of our team. We just didn’t convert on those few chances that we had.”
Both teams vied for control of the contest in the early moments, as each squad had quality opportunities on the power-play, but neither could put the puck in the net. Maine broke the scoreless tie at 8:37 in the first when Shepheard converted a wrap-around attempt, scoring after he poked his own rebound past Davidson on the right side low.
The Black Bears made it 2-0 just under two minutes later. After a nice pass by Luciano Aquino from inside the UML blueline, Troy Barnes sent a sniper shot top-shelf from the right point at 10:17 to add to the Maine lead.
Maine pushed its lead to 3-0 near the end of the third period, capitalizing on a two-on-one opportunity. Aquino collected the puck in his own zone and broke up ice along the left, with linemate Colin Shields trailing to his right. As Aquino hit the face-off circle, he dished the puck off to Shields who made his opportunity count at 14:55 for the three-goal advantage heading into the first break. The Black Bears outshot the River Hawks in the first period, 13-5.
The River Hawks looked to have a chance to get back into the game at the start of the second period. Already on the power-play just before the end of the first period, Maine was whistled for high-sticking as time expired in the first. UML had a full 1:35 of 5-on-3 to start the second, and even though the River Hawks had quality opportunities with the two-man advantage, Black Bear netminder Frank Doyle kept the visitors off the scoreboard.
“If we had gotten one past Doyle on that power-play, things might have been different,” said MacDonald of the 5-on-3. “He played very well, and it looked like Maine was skating by us all night.”
Neither team found the back of the net in the second period, but UML, which had an early six-shot advantage in the period, out-shot Maine 9-7 in the frame.
Prestin Ryan made it 4-0 Maine late in the third period on a four-on-four after he stole the puck in the Mass.-Lowell zone and floated it on net from the slot at 15:48.
Davidson made 25 saves in net for the River Hawks, while Doyle picked up his second shutout of the season with a total of 22 saves. Neither team cashed in on the power-play, with UML going 0-for-7 and Maine ending up 0-for-5.
Friday Mass.-Lowell (4-4-2, 2-3-0 HE) will face Boston University in a home-and-home series beginning at BU’s Walter Brown Arena, while Maine (9-2-0, 4-2-0 HE) will take on Massachusetts in Amherst Friday evening.