BURLINGTON, Vt. — Maine goaltender Ben Bishop posted 30 saves to lead the Black Bears to a 3-0 win over Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse Saturday.
The win for Maine keeps it in the hunt for the eighth and final Hockey East playoff spot. The Catamounts (13-12-7, 12-8-5 Hockey East) went into the game with a chance to lock up home ice for the first round, if they won and got help around the league, but were unable to do so.
Although Maine played well in Fridays 2-0 Vermont win, the Black Bears (11-18-3, 7-15-3) had a better all-around game Saturday.
Thats all you can really say is Maine played probably one of the best games of their year, and we didnt, said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. Because of how they played, we couldnt mount any sort of attack, and they did a great job ” fantastic job ” all over the ice.
I dont know where things shake out, but if they play like that, they deserve to be in the playoffs, Sneddon added.
Maine (11-18-3, 7-15-3) took a 1-0 lead at 14:40 of the first. Wes Clarks wrist shot from the slot beat Vermont goalie Joe Fallon (30 saves). Andrew Sweetland setup the goal with a pass from the goal line to the left of the goaltender. The goal ended Fallons shutout streak of 161 minutes, four seconds, dating back to the Catamounts 3-2 win at Mass.-Lowell Feb. 22.
Vermont had a golden opportunity to take the lead with 12:48 remaining, but Jack Downings shot sailed over the top of the wide-open net on a rebound.
We fought the puck tonight, said Sneddon. You look at it in any zone: neutral zone, or our zone, offensive zone, just pucks seemed to bounce off sticks. I dont think it was nerves I just think we had one of those games where we just didnt have a lot of puck luck or puck skill tonight, unfortunately.
Maine increased its lead at 4:03 of the second. Billy Ryan put the puck past Fallon, low from the circle.
Vermonts best chance of the period came with 17:32 left on the power play. Brayden Irwin tipped a diagonal pass from the left point, but Bishop got enough of it to keep the Cats off the board.
Vermont tried to get back in the game in the third, but Bishop was strong. He made several good stops in the period, including one on Colin Vock on a 2-on-1 from the left circle.
Bish was fabulous, said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. If youre a fan of goaltending, this was your weekend. To see Joe Fallon pitch a shutout the first night and Ben Bishop pitch a shutout the second night and both played well in the games they lost. I thought it was a really great weekend for goaltending, and those are two really good young prospects.
The Black Bears had a 10-7 advantage in shots in the third period and were able to add a power-play goal by Chris Hahn at 18:59, on a nice passing play with Ryan and Keenan Hopson, to account for the final margin.
Maine was 1-3 on the power play, while Vermont was scoreless in three chances itself.
What I liked most about our performance tonight was that our backs were against the wall, and we didnt play panicky, said Whitehead. We showed some poise, and defensively, we didnt run around.
Obviously, we hope that its not too little too late for our season, he continued. We need to win out [against UML next weekend] now, and hope that Merrimack can take two points from UMass.
Vermont, tied for second with Boston University with 29 points, can finish no lower than fifth, when it finishes the regular season at New Hampshire starting Friday.