ORONO, Maine — It wasn’t always pretty, but the University of Maine defeated a feisty Northeastern University team, 4-2, at the Alfond Arena Friday night.
Two goals in the final two periods gave the Black Bears the win, as they improved to 5-1-3 on the season and the Huskies fell to 1-6-2.
Twice the Black Bears had to come back from a one-goal deficit against the Huskies.
“We got desperate,” junior forward Spencer Abbott said. “We did everything we could. We got pucks deep and a lot of puck support.”
One minute into the first period, Robby Dee recorded the first shot, missing just wide of the Huskies net.
The Black Bears continued with scoring chances, as both Tanner House and Abbott had opportunities to put the Black Bears ahead, but both were stifled by Northeastern goalie Chris Rawlings.
The Black Bears looked sloppy on their first period power plays, the first coming four minutes into the first period.
Maine’s first mistake came just after the 16th minute of the first period when Ryan Hegarty went to the box for high sticking. On the ensuing power play, the first of the game for the Huskies, forward Wade MacLeod put Northeastern ahead off a pass from center Garrett Vermeersch. While the Huskies were controlling the puck, freshman goalie Dan Sullivan lost his footing and MacLeod capitalized with a shot from just inside the blue line.
“I’m not sure if there was a gouge in the ice or I may have just caught an edge,” Sullivan said. “[Mike] Banwell almost stopped it. It hit him in the shoulder and just deflected right off it.”
Despite just three shots on target to the Black Bears 14, the Huskies took the lead into the first intermission 1-0.
Starting the second period with a power play due to hooking penalty by Northeastern defender Jamie Oleksiak, the Black Bears quickly tied the score on a nice put-in by Jeff Dimmen.
“We said after the first period that it’s not going to be easy,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “So don’t get frustrated on the power play, stay with it and fortunately Dimmen made a great shot.”
Five minutes into the second period, the Huskies fended off a Black Bear five-on-three opportunity, as each team had three penalties in the second alone.
The final of those penalties came back to haunt the Black Bears, as their third high sticking of the game resulted in the second Huskies’ goal of the game when center Mike McLaughlin scored the second Northeastern goal while sophomore defender Mark Nemec was in the box.
“The second period wore us down a little,” Whitehead said. “We had to kill a lot of penalties and got scored on one of them, so it was a key goal to stay out of the box.”
It took just a minute and a half until the Black Bears again found the equalizer, the first goal up to this point scored with all 12 skaters on the ice. After House had back-to-back shots deflected, Abbott put the rebound past Rawlings from the left faceoff circle.
The final period between the Hockey East opponents saw little action until the 10-minute mark, when sophomore forward Joey Diamond put the Black Bears ahead for good. During the first power play of the period, forward Adam Shemansky controlled the puck behind the net until he quickly centered it for a waiting Diamond to redirect it past Rawlings.
“[Shemansky] just put it on my tape and it was a little tap in from there,” Diamond said. “Great play by him.”
The Black Bears defended well to shutout the Huskies in the third, and sealed the victory with an empty-net goal by Gustav Nyquist.
Game two gets underway at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night.