AMHERST, Mass. — Junior James Marcou factored into four of Massachusetts five tallies with a goal and three assists as his team earned a 5-3 Hockey East win over Maine on Friday evening. The victory, which extended the Minutemen winning streak against the Black Bears at the Mullins Center to eight games, pushed UMass to a 3-0-0 start to the regular season for the first time since 2003.
Marcou now has eight points through those first three games after recording a four assist performance in a 5-2 win over Rensselaer to open the season two weeks ago. Six of Marcous eight points have come on the power play.
Maine carried the game in the first period with the exception of our power-play execution, and we could have been in trouble if Paul [Dainton] didnt give us the type of goaltending that he gave us, stated Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon following the game. In the second period we played better, but then it became disjointed, and these types of games are a challenge in trying to keep a teams focus.
Overshadowing the performance of James Marcou and the Massachusetts win was an injury to Maine freshman Adam Shemansky late in the second period. Shermansky was sent careening into the boards on a hard hit by UMass defenseman Martin Nolet at 18:09 and laid motionless briefly before being attended to by medical staff. He was eventually immobilized and helped off the ice via stretcher; his status was not immediately known following the game.
Afterwards, the contest devolved into a penalty-filled affair with the two teams combining for 19 penalties alone in the third period and 31 overall for 97 minutes.
Losing players breaks up combinations and becomes more difficult on the bench, said Cahoon on the extensive amount of penalties. Your team can lose its focus and make a lot of bad mistakes.
It was a winnable game for us, but not with the penalties we took after [the Shermansky injury], commented Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. Our team was not able to stay out of the box.
The Minutemen capitalized on their first power play of the evening with a tally just 1:37 into the game. Along the dasher behind the goal line, James Marcou fed the puck to Casey Wellman, who was stationed low on the left side of the ice. Wellmans shot found a seam in the pads of Maine goaltender Scott Darling for his second goal of the season.
Although Maine turned up the offensive pressure after the games first goal, UMass added to its lead at 7:17. Nolet skated into the zone along the left side and rifled an unobstructed shot from the top of the circle that beat Darling high glove side.
The Black Bears finally got on the scoreboard at 13:33 of the first frame. Spencer Abbott did an excellent job of creating a turnover at the Massachusetts blue line and took the puck straight to the net with his line mates trailing alongside. Abbot got Dainton to commit before sliding the puck across the crease to Shemansky on the far post, who slammed home a one-timer to make it a 2-1 game.
UMass scored its second power-play goal of the evening at 17:25. James Marcou and Wellman reversed roles from their earlier man-advantage tally, as Wellman centered the puck to Marcou at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Marcous first attempt was blocked, however the puck came right back to his stick for a second shot that hit the crossbar and bounced off Darling and into the net.
The Minutemen took the 3-1 lead into the first break. After allowing three goals on 10 shots, Whitehead decided to go with Shawn Sirman in place of Darling to start the second period.
Two power-play goals on three shots, that put us behind the eight ball early, quipped Whitehead. We knew that UMass has a very good power play this year and we knew we would need some big stops, but unfortunately they got a couple of quick goals.
End-to-end hockey dominated the first half of the second stanza as neither team established their attack in the offensive zone. Maine was able to tally its second goal of the contest during this time when a Will ONeill centering pass deflected off the skate of UMass defenseman Doug Kublin and into the net at 10:59.
Massachusetts regained its two goal advantage at 15:11 when the Marcou brothers scored on a play that looked like it could have taken place in their backyard years ago. James collected a loose puck in neutral ice and skated into the Maine zone from the left side while trying to shake off a defenseman.
Without a clean look at the net, James stick-handled through the slot and waited before dishing the puck to Michael, who was all-alone along the left side low. The younger Marcous first attempt was blocked by a Maine defenseman, but he got enough of his second shot to slip the puck past Sirman for his first collegiate goal and a 4-2 lead.
It could be the first time, said James on setting up his brother. I saw him going to the net; I wasnt looking for him in particular, I was just looking to make the play and waiting for anyone to go to the back door.
Ill take a goal, stated a smiling Michael on the tally. I was expecting the pass, and when I finally got it I took a whack at it and a defenseman got a stick on it. Fortunately I got another chance at it.
We drew it up just like that, joked Cahoon on the Marcou brothers goal. We have spent a lot of time talking to James about having the patience; everybody in the building is yelling for him to shoot, and hes got some other idea. Michael was probably the only one on the ice that had any idea what James was thinking because hes been around him so much.
That was the key goal, said Whitehead. We had some momentum coming back and our discipline was there at that point, but unfortunately that goal was the key. It didnt mean that the game was over, but it meant that we were down by two again.
Tensions finally boiled over at 16:06 when a Massachusetts skater ran over Silman after a breakaway stop and a scrum occurred behind the Maine net. The injury to Shemansky only made things worse, with more altercations occurring in the third period. Maine was awarded a five-minute major for Nolets hit on Shemansky, however the UMass defense held the fort and prevented the Black Bears power play unit from scoring.
T.J. Snyder made it 5-2 UMass at 7:58 of the third when he redirected Matt Irwins power-play blast from the point.
Maine looked to have cut the deficit back to two at 18:35 but an official review determined that the puck had been directed into the net by a hand. The Black Bears would eventually get their third goal moments later with an extra attacker as Tanner House put home a rebound at 18:58.
Daiton finished the game with 26 saves, including 10 in the second alone, while Sirman made 17 stops in his first collegiate appearance during the final two periods of play. The Minutemen finished the evening 3-for-6 on the power-play while the Black Bears were 1-for-4 with the man-advantage.
Sirman showed a lot of composure for his first college game, said Whitehead. He looked very calm and focused. I was proud of how he played; he was a bright spot for us.
Maine (1-4-0 overall, 0-1-0 in Hockey East) continues its road trip tomorrow evening at New Hampshire at 7:00 p.m. while Massachusetts (3-0-0, 1-0-0) will return to action next weekend with a home-and-home series against Providence beginning Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Rhode Island.
Maine and UMass will not meet again until the final weekend of the regular season, a two game set on March 5-6 in Orono.