ORONO, Maine — New opponent, same old story.
On Saturday, Maine delivered its own version of northern hospitability with a 4-0 bruising to complete a weekend sweep of the Alabama Huntsville and run its home winning streak to 17 games.
Anchored by the play of captain Greg Moore and sophomore netminder Matt Lundin, the Black Bears (5-1-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) pulled away from the Chargers (0-2-0, 0-0-0 CHA) eight minutes in the third period and never looked back.
Although the end result was the same at Alfond Arena for the visiting squad, the game was anything but scripted. Along the way the game featured two ejections, 63 combined saves and an explosive final five minutes.
Collecting 22 of those 63 saves was Lundin who recorded his first shutout of the year. For Lundin it was his first game in nearly two weeks. The Black Bears had started freshman netminder Ben Bishop in the previous four games.
“I was definitely nervous knowing I wanted to come back and prove that I could play,” said Lundin. “I am glad that the first time I touched the puck it didn’t have to be a save. I got out there and played the puck and got the confidence right back.”
Maine head coach Tim Whitehead had high praise for his goalie.
“Matt Lundin was fabulous tonight in a very tough situation because I hadn’t played him since the Air Force game in which he played well,” said Whitehead. “Bishop got hot and I kept going with him and Matt comes in and plays fabulous. I was just so impressed with him and really proud of him. It was a great lift for our team. The guys on the bench were so pumped up for him.”
Lundin’s adversary on other end of the ice, Scott Munroe, didn’t disappoint either, picking up 41 saves on the night.
“That goaltender, he is something,” said Whitehead about Munroe. “I am thoroughly impressed. There is no accident there; he had back-to-back nights of stellar play.”
After nearly 48 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Black Bears were finally able to dent Munroe’s net after a rocket by Moore found the net at 8:28 of the third period. Assistant captain Michel Leveille fed a wide open Moore at the top of the hash marks. With the puck dangling at the end of his stick, Moore was able to collect the puck at just the right time for the shot.
“I just tried to pull the puck in towards me and then turn around and the face the net to get a shot off,” said Moore. “It kind of just got down the ice and hit the post and went in.”
With less than five minutes to go in the game, Maine’s Billy Ryan delivered the fatal blow on the power play. Skating in for a breakaway, Ryan used a quick deke to the right to beat Munroe. The low-lying shot touched the back of the net at 16:40 of the third.
The play quickly increased the intensity at Alfond.
Over the last 21 minutes both squads would exchange their share of hits and words, with it all leading to the ejections of Hamilton and Alabama-Huntsville’s Mike Salekin at 17:46 of the third period.
The ejections came just ten seconds after the Black Bears added their third goal of the game and Moore’s second. At 17:36, Moore tweaked a shot high off the post and into the twine. Leveille and Hamilton registered assists on the tally.
Josh Soares concluded the scoring at 19:04 when he tallied his fourth goal of the season off a rebound on the power play. Keenan Hopson and Billy Ryan received assists on the play.
Maine finished the game 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Chargers ended 0-for-3.
“The special teams have really been big for us,” said Whitehead. “It was nice to get the two power play goals.”
Maine returns to action next weekend on the road against Boston College and UMass-Amherst, while the Chargers are set to face off with RIT.