ORONO, Me. — In the second game of a weekend series, Maine looked to break even with St. Lawrence after losing 5-0 Friday night before in a penalty-riddled game.
Maine was able to increase shot count and play with better effort, but the Black Bears’ execution was not there and the Saints left Orono with a sweep, winning Saturday night 5-1.
“I saw a better effort, but I saw the same result,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “Everybody works hard on every team, but that’s not enough. You need to execute as a team and that’s where St. Lawrence had the advantage. They capitalize on their opportunities.”
“It’s tough, not a lot of good things to take from it,” added Maine co-captain Mike Cornell. “You lost 10-1 on the weekend and I thought we would play a little bit better tonight. At the end of the day, we have to find ways to compete because it’s not going to get any easier.”
Maine and St. Lawrence put shots on goal often, but for the second night in a row, St. Lawrence was able to get the shots to go into the net first.
With 7:20 played in the first, Saints’ forward Greg Carey scored unassisted to give SLU a 1-0 lead.
St. Lawrence tallied another one past Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan 14:15 into the first period when Kyle Flanagan sniped one assisted by defenseman Riley Austin and Carey.
The second period brought back reminders of the previous night’s game, as St. Lawrence was able to tack on another goal.
Maine goaltender Matt Morris replaced Sullivan at the beginning of the period. Whitehead said that Sullivan simply was not playing up to his capabilities.
“Danny wasn’t sharp this weekend, last night or tonight,” Whitehead said. “That hasn’t happened in a long time. I know he will bounce back, but it just didn’t appear like he was able to recapture it.”
“As a goalie, it’s pretty tough coming off the bench cold, but you just want to give your team a chance,” said Morris. “You can’t blame [Sullivan] for either goal. I just want the team to win.”
Carey scored his second goal of the night 12:21 into the second period, being assisted by forward Gunnar Hughes, putting the Saints up 3-0.
After the goal, the frustration of the Black Bears’ players began to show, as one player flipped a St. Lawrence glove across the ice and a scuffle broke out afterward. Matching minor penalties ensued with Maine forward Ryan Lomberg and St. Lawrence forward Jeremy Wick heading to the box.
Saints’ goaltender Matt Weninger posted another excellent game and shined brightest at the end of the second period, making three unbelievable saves as the time expired on a Maine power play.
“It was pretty much that way until we got the 3-0 lead and then we had to hold on at the end of the second there [and] I had to make a few saves,” said Weninger. “We had a few quality chances on the power play and five-on-five, we kept it on.”
Weninger saved 37 shots on the night and played all 120 minutes in the series, allowing only one goal.
The third period held some hope for the Black Bears, as they were finally able to break the shutout. At the 4:29 mark, defenseman Mark Nemec blasted one in with the assist coming from Devin Shore and forward Joey Diamond.
St. Lawrence took advantage of a Conor Riley penalty and Flanagan scored his second goal of the game 11:09 into the third period, with the assist coming from Carey and forward Justin Baker, making the score 4-1.
Kyle Essery finished off the scoring 16:16 into the third being assisted by Gunnar Hughes and George Hughes.
“We’re not really getting set up in zone [and] we’re not getting as many shots on the net,” said Cornell. “If you give up a bunch of power-play goals and you go 0-for, it’s going to be tough to beat anybody.”
Maine falls to 1-4-0 on the year and will head to Providence next weekend to open conference play. St. Lawrence improves to 3-1-0 and will take on Alabama-Huntsville at home next weekend.