ORONO, Maine — While the goals were harder to come by than in the series opener, the University of Maine men’s hockey team managed a hard-fought 3-1 win over Providence College.
Maine defender Matt Mangene’s goal 20 seconds into the second period proved to be the difference maker, as it was the first Black Bears’ victory that didn’t involve a goal from the first line of forwards.
“When you can get three guys scoring who haven’t loaded up on points, it takes a lot of pressure off our top guys,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “It gave us a big lift.”
After sweeping the Friars, Maine improves to 3-2-1 and 3-1 in Hockey East, while Providence is winless in its last four and sits at 2-3-1 overall and 2-2 in Hockey East.
“It was a real good series,” Whitehead said. “Both teams fought hard, and we were fortunate to come out with four points and hold our serve at home.”
Maine goalie Dan Sullivan stopped 26 of the Friars’ 27 shots, including a flurry late in the third period, while Friars’ counterpart Alex Beaudry stopped 25 shots.
“I thought we fought the puck well tonight, particularly on the power play,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “A lot of clean passes would come to us and end up in our skates somehow. Our guys did a great job battling through it, and we had some great chances in the third. Give their goalie credit, I thought he stood tall when he needed too.”
With nine minutes to go in the first, the Black Bears struck, as forward Adam Shemansky put Maine on the board. After Kyle Beattie won the faceoff, Shemansky gathered the puck and beat Beaudry over his glove side for his second goal of the season.
Providence leveled the score on a power play. Freshman goalie Dan Sullivan lost track of the puck as it popped out in front of the net. Friars forward Damian Cross recovered it and beat Sullivan to make it 1-1.
Less than 30 seconds into the period, Mangene scored his first goal of the season off passes by Will O’Neill and Brian Flynn.
“Flynn took it wide as usual, ‘Abbs’ [Spencer Abbott] drove the net and found me, and I was able to put it home,” Mangene said. “The way it all started was the four of us working together.”
Midway through the second period, Providence had a chance for another power-play goal after O’Neill was tagged for roughing. Providence couldn’t tie things up, but kept the attack going for the majority of the period.
The Friars controlled the action in the third period, yet could not break through and find the tying goal. With eight minutes gone in the third period, O’Neill was booked for elbowing after clobbering Stefan Demopoulos.
The Black Bears managed to hold their ground on that Providence power play and the following one, when Shemanksy was booked for tripping.
The Friars pulled their goalie with just over two minutes remaining and bombarded Sullivan and the Black Bears with shots. Numerous scrums occurred in front of the net, including one that appeared to end with a Friars’ goal, but it was waved off as the net came loose initially.
“That was crazy,” Sullivan said. “I had a couple of my ‘D’ keep it out, thanks to those guys. It was really hectic; they put on the pressure in the last two minutes. All hell broke loose. It was great to see the effort at the end. Credit to Providence, I thought they had some major improvements from last year’s team.”
The Black Bears added their third goal in the final seconds, an empty-netter from Klas Leidermark.