ORONO, Maine — It took a little longer than they expected, but the University of Maine men’s hockey team opened up their 2011 home schedule with a victory over Providence College in overtime, 4-3.
Junior forward Brian Flynn scored two goals for the Black Bears including the game winner in overtime. The win in the extra period was the third victory of the season in overtime.
The Black Bears improved to 10-6-4 and 7-4-2 in Hockey East play, while the Friars fell to 7-9-5 and 3-7-4 in HEC.
“It didn’t come easy,” Black Bear head coach Tim Whitehead said. “I was really impressed with [Providence's] determination. It appeared like they were down and out but they kept fighting back. To win that in OT, I thought it showed a lot of courage as well.”
The first period’s action started immediately, with junior forward Brian Flynn roping off the first shot 20 seconds into the game.
The Friars countered with a shot by junior forward Matt Bergland that clanked off the post, barely missing the chance at taking the lead.
Six minutes into the period, the Friars recorded the first penalty of the game, when sophomore forward Chris Rooney was tagged for elbowing. The Black Bears couldn’t capitalize on the advantage.
Midway through the period, an already short-manned Maine team lost another player, as sophomore forward Joey Diamond hit the showers early with a game misconduct penalty. Two minutes were added to the five-minute major as Diamond was also hit with a boarding call, giving the Friars a seven-minute power play in the first period.
The Black Bears weren’t about to sit back for the next seven minutes, as they routinely went for the counter-attack, with Flynn coming within inches of poking the puck in.
Good hustle by freshman center Jon Swalvey, as he earned a tripping call on Providence’s freshman defender Steven Shamanski. The score remained equal for the two minutes of four-on-four play.
With seven minutes remaining in the period, junior forward Spencer Abbott just missed the goal of the season. After dragging the puck away from him, Abbott swiped the puck back up and flung it past Friars’ netminder, junior Justin Gates, but the puck deflected off the post.
On the ensuing faceoff, while everyone was still reeling from Abbott’s maneuvering, the Black Bears scored the first goal of the contest. Swalvey tallied his first collegiate point after receiving the puck from Andersson off the faceoff. Swalvey fired the puck past Gates for the short-handed goal, giving the Black Bears the lead 1-0.
The Black Bears came close to adding a second while playing a man-down, as Nyquist lifted a breakaway attempt over the head of Gates. The Black Bears fended off the rest of the power play and took the 1-0 lead into the locker room.
“We weren’t able to move the puck with enough speed,” senior center Kyle MacKinnon said. “We kind of held onto a little too long and let Maine to set up and do their thing instead of keeping the puck.”
“That could have been the game,” Whitehead said of the seven-minute power play. “I thought our penalty kill was excellent tonight, we were able to sustain some pressure in their zone.”
Maine controlled the offensive play in the period, out-shooting the Friars 19-6.
The action in the second period started slower, with neither team gaining an offensive advantage until the penalty was whistled three-and-a-half minutes in. Andersson was called for a high stick, as the Friars went on their third power play.
Once again, the Black Bears had the better opportunities, as Gates made a great sliding save on sophomore forward Matt Mangene.
In the 11th minute, the Black Bears doubled their lead as Flynn scored his 10th goal of the season. Junior defender Will O’Neill’s shot was blocked; Flynn corralled the rebound and flicked the puck over Gates left shoulder.
Five minutes later the Friars found their way to the scoreboard as MacKinnon scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season. Senior forward Ian O’Connor and sophomore defender Myles Harvey assisted on the play.
It looked as though the game was going stay 2-1 entering the third period until the Friars’ Harvey was whistled for a holding call. Instead of entering the third period with the majority of a power play in their back pocket, the Black Bears needed only nine seconds and one pass to score on the power play. Off the faceoff, Flynn centered the puck to Abbott near the blue line. Abbott lined up and rifled the shot past Gates for a momentum-grasping third goal. It was Abbott’s 12th goal of the season.
The Friars opened up the third period with their second goal. A minute-and-a-half into the final period, senior forward Jordan Kremyr scored to bring Providence to within one.
Eight minutes into the period Abbott had an opportunity to extend the Black Bear lead, but pushed the puck wide.
Sophomore defender Mike Cornell was whistled for hitting from behind. Twenty seconds later, sophomore center Tim Schaller followed Cornell to the sin bin for a boarding call. The four-on-four didn’t produce any goals, as the game came down to the final minutes with the Black Bears up 3-2 over the Friars.
With under four minutes remaining, that all changed when Schaller found the equalizer for the Friars. Rooney assisted on the tying goal, which ultimately forced overtime.
Determined to not let this victory slip away, the Black Bears came out charging in the overtime, scoring the game winner on their first offensive possession less than one minute into the extra period. Flynn tallied his second goal of the game off assists from senior center Tanner House and Nyquist.
“Tremendous awareness for Brian,” Whitehead said.
“We talked about not laying back after we got to a good start,” Flynn said. “Even though they scored those two goals we were still playing well and working hard.”
The Black Bears lace up the skates again Sunday night in a pivotal HEC clash with Boston College. The Friars have a week until their next contest against the University of New Hampshire in Durham.