ORONO, Me. — The players weren’t wearing boxing gloves in place of their hockey gloves, although you may not have known it for a while. Marvin Degon fired a slap shot past Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard at 8:56 of the first period for the only goal as Massachusetts upset Maine 1-0 in a physical, sometimes dirty, game at Alfond Arena on Saturday, one day after Maine won a similar contest 3-0 in the same fashion.
“I think last night we got beat in a lot of physical battles,” Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon said. “Tonight the goal was to skate hard and to shut down their center lanes, and to take away their stretch plays. We played well at times last night, and even better at puck movement, but tonight we matched them physically.”
The loss is the first for Maine at home since last year, when Massachusetts beat the Black Bears in the Hockey East playoffs. It is the first time Maine has been shut out at home since Jan. 29, 2000, a 3-0 shutout to Boston College.
Early in the game, play between the two teams was chippy. Both sides took opportunities to add an extra hit or an extra jab of the stick at the end of each play, and rarely was the extra contact called as a penalty.
In a rare penalty situation, Prestin Ryan took a high sticking call at 8:42 in the first, setting the stage for Degon’s goal just 14 seconds later.
“I never saw it until the very last second,” Howard said. “There were people out front, and then I lost it. It went right over my shoulder.”
Maine had its first of two power-play opportunities on the heels of the Massachusetts call, but could not capitalize, thanks in part to Minuteman netminder Gabe Winer.
“Gabe came up big early on,” Cahoon said. “He shut them down when he needed to.”
Both goaltenders made some solid saves in the first, keeping the score tight. Winer and Howard traded great saves at the top of the period, Winer made a solid glove save on Greg Moore at the ten minute mark, and then again on Dustin Penner from the high slot late in the period.
In the second, the tight checking, physical play finally came to a head with 11 seconds remaining on the clock.
With several penalties let go on both sides, and with two players from each team already in the teams snapped. With 11 seconds left in the period, and with two players from each team already in the penalty box, the Minutemen and the Black Bears squared off after a Massachusetts player went sliding into the boards by his own bench.
In all, six more Black Bears headed into the box, and five more Minutmen, creating a logjam in front of the doors, and on the scoresheet.
Massachusetts controlled the third period, and didn’t allow a Maine shot on goal until less than two minutes remained on the clock, and even then that was the only shot of the period.
“They did to us tonight what we did to them last night after we got our goals,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “They clamped down when they had to.”
Maine’s record is now 16-5-1 (8-3-1 Hockey East), and the Black Bears will play at Boston University next weekend, while Massachusetts (11-7-5, 7-5-1) will have a week off before hosting Northeastern on Jan. 29.