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College Hockey:
Abbott’s four points propel Maine past Alabama-Huntsville

— After needing extra time to beat the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers Friday night, the Maine Black Bears got out in front early Saturday night and never looked back.

With five goals coming from five different players, the Black Bears took down the Chargers, 5-0.

“We spent a lot of energy Friday night, and it wasn’t our legs that hurt us the most tonight, it was our head,” said Alabama-Huntsville coach Chris Luongo. “The first thing that goes when you’re fatigued is your mind.”

Winners of six in a row, Maine improves to 16-8-3 while the Chargers drop to 2-26-1.

Spencer Abbott led the Black Bears with a goal and three assists, picking up seven points on the weekend to increase his total to 47, tops in the country. Defender Brice O’Connor also scored his first collegiate goal.

“Everyone was geared up because we knew we dodged a bullet and we wanted to come out and play hard,” Abbott said.

Dan Sullivan picked up his first shutout of the season, stopping all 20 shots his way.

“That was a good feeling to get the shutout; it looked like a completely different team in front of me tonight,” Sullivan said.

The Black Bears showcased their special teams early in the game after a high stick was called on defender Lasse Uusivirta. After threatening throughout the power play, Maine cashed in with seconds remaining on the man advantage when forward Mark Anthoine scored his team-leading ninth power-play goal.

Less than a minute later, the Black Bears had another power-play opportunity after defender Nickolas Gatt was called for tripping.

Although Maine failed to connect on the power play, defender Brice O’Connor scored his first collegiate goal seconds later after following up on his rebound.

“I lucked out; I didn’t know where the puck went,” O’Connor said. “I thought it went in [initially]. I got good wood on it but it trickled through his pads and I snuck behind and tapped it in.”

The Chargers had one chance with their special teams on the ice after Jake Rutt was booked for interference, but Alabama-Huntsville couldn’t get on the board.

The Black Bears outshot the Chargers 19-6 in the period.

“The key was to get off to a good start,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “Getting the lead really helped, but we knew there was no quit in them. It’s good to play with the lead and extend it. A lot of good, honest effort.”

The Black Bears opened the second period with a goal, scoring on the remaining moments of a power play from late in the first period. Abbott found linemate Brian Flynn open in the slot for Flynn’s 14th goal of the season.

The Chargers couldn’t stay out of the box, and it continued to cost them, as Maine made it 4-0 early in the second period. Less than a minute into a power play, Abbott fired a shot toward Clarke Saunders, who got a pad on it before Maine forward Matt Mangene beat him with the rebound attempt.

A slew of penalties populated the rest of the period, but neither Maine nor Alabama-Huntsville could connect on the opportunities. The Chargers had a brief five-on-three power play, but couldn’t capitalize.

“It would have been nice to generate a little momentum off that to see where it would lead,” Luongo said.

The Black Bears wrapped up the win in the final period when Abbott scored his 15th goal of the season after rebounding a shot by Rutt.

“I just try to get the puck to the net,” Abbott said. “I’ve changed my mindset and am trying to shoot a little more and make opportunities to bank home rebounds.”

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