LOWELL, Mass. — Sophomore Jon Jankus tallied twice and added an assist while classmate Jimmy Howard made 20 saves as No. 3 Maine avenged a loss to Massachusetts-Lowell from the previous evening with a 4-0 shutout over the host River Hawks Saturday in front of 4,153 at Tsongas Arena.
“From our standpoint, it was a much better game from start to finish than last night,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. “I think that most importantly our players that were on the ice for the power play and penalty kill, our key players, played well tonight. Jimmy was obviously very sharp, despite the shot differential. I thought he made some huge saves for us, and I’m very impressed with his performance.”
It was all Black Bears in the first period, as Maine held a 15-3 shot advantage in the first frame and a 3-0 lead after one period of play.
Jankus put the Black Bears in the driver’s seat at 4:31 of the first with a little help from junior Matt Greyeyes. Greyeyes brought the puck into the River Hawk zone from the left, and although he couldn’t control the puck before he hit the net, he spun around behind the goal line and fired the puck back up ice, straight into the slot. All alone and driving towards the net, Jankus made the most of his opportunity, wristing a shot past the pads of UML netminder John Yaros for a 1-0 Black Bear lead.
Maine increased its lead to 2-0 later on in the period with some good puck movement by senior Prestin Ryan. Ryan found fellow defenseman Tom Zabkowicz open at the right side of the net, sending the puck across the slot for the opportunity.
The Black Bears added a third goal before the end of the first 20 minutes of the game as Jankus collected his second marker on the evening with help from freshman Michel Leveille and sophomore Derek Damon at 17:11.
Sophomore Greg Moore made it 4-0 Black Bears midway through the second period, as senior Todd Jackson found Moore at the edge of the slot at 13:52, the second power-play goal of the game for Maine.
The game took on a more physical tone the rest of the way, as the two teams combined for 25 penalties and 61 total penalty minutes, most of which came in the second period on a hit from behind suffered by UML sophomore Andrew Martin that forced the winger to miss the rest of the game.
“Top-to-bottom, we came out ready to play,” said Howard. “We realized tonight that we didn’t play up to our potential last night. I don’t know if we were looking too far into the future or what last night with Boston College coming up, but we came back down to earth tonight, and are taking it one game at a time.”
Howard finished the game with a total of 20 saves between the pipes, while Yaros stopped a total of 35 shots in net for UML. The Black Bears went 2-for-5 on the evening with the man-advantage, while the River Hawks were scoreless on their five opportunities.
“Clearly Maine turned the tables on us,” said UML head coach Blaise MacDonald. “I thought we played well in the first last night, and tonight it seemed that we were stuck in mud the whole first period. That set a bad tone for the rest of the game.”
Thursday, Lowell (9-21-6, 6-12-4 HE) will host Valley rival Merrimack, currently one point ahead of the River Hawks in sixth place with UML holding a game in hand. Maine (24-7-3, 15-5-2) hosts No. 1 Boston College, the Hockey East regular-season champion, for a pair of games at Alfond Arena beginning on Friday. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. start.