ORONO, Maine — To cap off a thrilling weekend in Orono, Maine, the University of Maine beat the University of Vermont, 4-2.
The Black Bears were led by junior forward Gustav Nyquist, who finished with two goals, including the opener six seconds in, the fastest goal in Maine history.
The Black Bears improve to 12-10-6 and 9-8-4 in Hockey East, while the Catamounts fall to 7-16-5 and 5-12-4 in HEC.
“Give Maine a lot of credit,” Catamounts coach Kevin Sneddon said. “It was a completely different team than we saw last night. I had a feeling that was going to be the case.”
“It was a good bounce back game for us,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “We carried the play, it was a real good answer game for us to bounce back within 24 hours and come out with a real thorough victory.”
The Black Bears came out like a team needing a victory, as Nyquist scored six seconds into the game. Nyquist controlled the faceoff and brought the puck into the Catamounts offensive zone, where he wristed it past junior goalie Rob Madore.
“Good start for us,” Nyquist said. “[junior forward Brian] Flynn drilled the net so hard the goalie couldn’t see much. I got a great screen by Flynn and without that, I wouldn’t have scored.”
Six seconds later, the Catamounts gained an early power play when junior defender Will O’Neill was booked for interference. Sophomore center Matt Mangene joined him less than one minute later for charging, and the Catamounts enjoyed over a minute of five-on-three action.
On the same play, Vermont senior defender Kyle Medvec went crashing into the boards and was down on the ice for a number of minutes. The assistant captain did not return.
Forty seconds into the two-man advantage, the Catamounts tied the score. After sophomore goalie Shawn Sirman stopped a flurry of shots, sophomore forward Sebastian Stalberg beat Sirman for Vermont’s first goal of the game. Senior forward Jack Downing and freshman center Mat White each assisted on the play.
Upon leaving the penalty box, Mangene almost gave the Black Bears the lead, hitting the inside of the post as the puck deflected back toward the ice.
The play went to four-on-four with eight minutes remaining when Maine senior defender Jeff Dimmen was tagged for hitting after the whistle and freshman forward H.T. Lenz followed him to the box for slashing. The Catamounts controlled the majority of four-on-four play.
The Catamounts continued to excel on the power play, taking the lead after junior defender Will O’Neill went to the box for tripping. Downing deflected sophomore forward Chris McCarthy’s shot past Sirman for the lead.
The Black Bears ended the period on a power play when senior defender Dan Lawson went to the sin bin for tripping with 43 seconds remaining.
Vermont was able to kill the remaining seconds of the penalty, as junior forward Brian Flynn hit the post less than two minutes into the period.
The period was marked by a number of penalties, with the Catamounts hitting the box four times, while the Black Bears had two penalties, resulting in a five-on-three late in the period that Maine killed.
With six minutes remaining, the Black Bears made good use of one of those four penalties. After sophomore Tobias Nilsson-Roos was booked for elbowing, junior forward Spencer Abbott took a rip from the blue line. Madore made the initial save, but the rebound landed directly on Flynn’s stick, and he tucked it past Madore for his 14th goal of the season.
Both teams brought the 2-2 tie into the final intermission.
The Black Bears had a commanding advantage in shots in the second period, putting 19 on target compared to only four by the Catamounts.
Six minutes into the final period, the Catamounts had another power-play opportunity when senior defender Mike Banwell was booked with high sticking. Seconds into the man advantage, McCarthy followed Banwell to the box for slashing, giving the Alfond crowd another four-on-four sequence.
After both teams returned to full strength, Abbott came within inches of breaking the tie after hitting the post from the center slot.
Midway through the period, sophomore forward Joey Diamond went to the penalty box for holding the opponents stick.
On the first play after the penalty wrapped up, Diamond controlled the puck behind the Catamounts’ net until he fired a shot that deflected past Madore for the go-ahead goal.
“I was kind of surprised by the [holding] penalty,” Diamond said. “They got the faceoff by the bench and Dee won a great faceoff to O’Neill and he saw me in the neutral zone and dumped it in. I beat the guy to the puck and got a couple steps on him and took it to the net.
“I didn’t feel like I gave him anything,” Madore said. “I don’t know if he was trying to pass it in front or going for the bank. It hit a knee pad in front and some games those bounces go your way some games it doesn’t.”
“We talked about continuing to play hard and good things will happen,” Whitehead said. “Sure enough [Diamond] won that battle behind the net and took advantage.”
After the Catamounts emptied their net with 48 seconds remaining, the Black Bears sealed the victory with 21 seconds left after Nyquist scored with no one in front of him.
“I can’t overstate enough how impressed I was with our kids character this weekend,” Sneddon said. “How hard they competed, it’s something to build off of.”
The Black Bears travel Lowell to take on the University of Massachusetts Lowell next weekend, while the Catamounts go home to take on the University of New Hampshire.