ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s hockey team came up winless for the sixth consecutive game, getting blown out at home by the University of Vermont, 7-2.
The Black Bears fall to 11-10-6 overall and 8-8-4 in Hockey East, while the Catamounts improve their undefeated streak to three and sit at 7-15-5 overall and 5-11-4 in HEC
“Very disappointing,” Maine head coach Tim Whitehead said. “All of us feel like we let the home crowd down. Certainly not what we expected, we had a strong week of practice but we didn’t get it done tonight.”
“I’m proud of our guys,” Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It was a total team effort. Our power play moved it around well and our penalty kill was probably the biggest thing.”
The Catamounts were 3-6 on the power play, while the Black Bears were 0-8
The Black Bears came out with uninspired hockey in the first period, letting the Catamounts pounce out to a three-goal lead and letting up four goals in the process.
Less than five minutes into the period, the Catamounts snagged their first goal, after Maine freshman goalie Dan Sullivan let up a rebound to sophomore forward Chris McCarthy who put it past Sullivan. Sophomore forward Sebastian Stalberg and senior defender Dan Lawson each recorded an assist on the opening goal.
Three minutes later, the Catamounts doubled their lead as senior defender Kyle Medvec connected on his second goal of the season.
An ensuing onslaught by Maine junior forward Brian Flynn was taken care of by reigning Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week, junior goalie Rob Madore.
Eight minutes into the period, the Black Bears got to show off their special teams when sophomore forward Tobia Nilsson-Roos was booked for a high stick. The Black Bears failed to connect on the power play, and Sullivan deflected away a breakaway by freshman forward Connor Brickley—the best opportunity of the man advantage.
With just over six minutes remaining, Maine sophomore forward Joey Diamond was booked for interference at center ice. Instead of a Maine attack, it turned into a Catamount power play.
Vermont did what the Black Bears couldn’t and capitalized on their power play. Junior defender Drew MacKenzie found the wide-open senior forward Jack Downing in the slot, and Downing rifled it past Sullivan for the third goal of the game.
Sullivan—in his first game back from injury in five weeks—was pulled in favor of fellow freshman Martin Ouellette following the third Catamount goal.
With less than three minutes remaining in the period, the Black Bears looked to find some momentum in the form of junior forward Theo Andersson’s first goal of the season. After a pass from sophomore center Matt Mangene, Andersson wristed the puck past Madore’s glove for the first Black Bears goal of the game.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Catamounts nullified the goal when freshman center Anthony DeCenzo squeaked the puck past Ouellette. McCarthy and Stalberg were given the assists on the fourth Catamount goal of the period.
After the Black Bears squandered the power play from a holding penalty on freshman defender Arthur Griem at the beginning of the period, they soon got another opportunity three minutes in, when MacKenzie was called for hooking and Medvec followed him to the sin bin with an elbowing call.
The Catamounts were able to defend the 5-3 well, ending the power play with the three goal lead.
“It’s two weekends in a row we’ve been in a lengthy five-on-three and we’ve killed it,” Sneddon said. “Part of that’s goaltending, I thought rob [Madore] did a great job. We did a good job reading what they wanted to do. We played aggressive too.”
Thirteen minutes remaining in the period, Diamond went to the box again, this time for elbowing. The Catamounts were controlling the power play until a turnover led to a breakaway by junior forward Gustav Nyquist. With a defender in front of him, Nyquist stalled, pulled back and wristed the shot past Madore.
“The shot got blocked off [Hegarty's] shin-pad and [the puck] was out of the reach of Vermont’s defensemen,” Nyquist said. “I came down on a two-on-one and saw the guy try to slide and I just pulled the puck back a bit and saw an opening upstairs.”
Once again, the Catamounts crushed any turn of momentum, scoring less than one minute later while still on the power play. DeCenzo scored his second of the game and second on Ouellette.
“We had numbers and I looked back and [freshman defender Nick] Bruneteau was calling for it,” DeCenzo said. “I gave it to him and he’s a pretty good playmaker so I let him do the rest and he had a nice toe-drag and put it on net. My line-mates did the work so it was pretty easy for me.”
Both teams traded power play opportunities, with the best scoring chance coming from Vermont freshman H.T. Lenz when he hit the post. Nyquist was booked for interference, making play even at 4-4 for 50 seconds.
With less than three minute remaining, Diamond limped to the bench after colliding with Madore. The goalie was able to keep the puck away while bracing for the Diamond collision.
Lenz was booked for charging as the period ended, giving the Black Bears a man advantage to start the third period, down 5-2.
The Black Bears couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage as the skating remained at even strength until Maine senior defender Josh Van Dyk and Brickley hit the box with penalties. Brickley was tagged with cross-checking, while Van Dyk was hit with a five-minute major for kneeing.
The Black Bears managed two minutes of 4-3 advantage when Nilsson-Roos was booked for tripping.
Once again the Catamounts penalty kill did its job and fended off the Black Bears advantage.
With less than a minute remaining in Van Dyk’s major, Stalberg put the game out of reach with the sixth Catamount goal of the game.
As people filed out of Alfond Arena in flocks, Downing gave them a reason to move faster as he extended Vermont’s lead to five midway through the period. With the score 7-2, Whitehead brought on the third goalie of the evening, sophomore Shawn Sirman.
Sirman was able to get the 10-minute clean sheet, but the Black Bears fell 7-2 in front of a disappointed Alfond crowd.
“Thought we played a complete game down to the final buzzer,” Sneddon said. “We know it’s only half of the weekend so we’ll enjoy this for a few minutes and quickly focus on tomorrow.”
The Black Bears and Catamounts hit the ice tomorrow night at 7 p.m.