Maine’s Simon Butala scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give Maine an extra Hockey East point over rival New Hampshire in yet another great installment of one of college hockey’s best border battles Friday night in Durham, N.H.
— Maine Men’s Ice Hockey (@MaineIceHockey) December 12, 2020
The game was the season opener for both teams, each of which have had to pause team activities and postpone games to date due to COVID. But it was also the first 3-on-3 overtime and shootout for each since a rule change in Hockey East that began this season allowing both.
It was a game in which the Wildcats held a major advantage in shots but had a difficult time solving Maine sophomore goaltender Matthew Theissen who finished the game with 37 saves to earn his first career victory.
When league voted to allow 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts, one concern would be that a team might battle tooth-and-nail, feel great about their performance but feel like they lost the game by falling in a shootout, despite the fact the games are recorded as ties for NCAA purposes.
In a way, that’s how things felt after the game in the UNH locker room, according to coach Michael Souza.
“Our staff feels okay, I don’t know the kids do,” said Souza of his team’s postgame reaction. “You go in the locker room afterwards and it’s like a loss. It’s a weird feeling.
If there was a silver lining, it’s that as much as 3-on-3 has been talked about and practiced by both teams, each took little time acclimating themselves to a game experience.
“We’ve practiced it quite a bit, we even did a 3-on-3 tournament,” Souza said. “But there’s no substitution for doing it. I guess we got it out of the way.”
New Hampshire outshot Maine over the first two periods, 25-4, but found itself in a scoreless tie. The final shot advantage for UNH was 38-16.
It wasn’t until the 12:42 mark of the third period that UNH finally broke the deadlock as Kalle Ericksson broke through three Maine defenders and fired a shot five hole on Theissen.
But Maine’s response was swift as 32 seconds later rookie Lyndon Breen finished off perfect tic-tac-toe passing for his first collegiate goal to even the score.
Penn State 3, No. 20 Arizona State 2 (OT)
Connor MacEachern’s goal with 1:03 remaining in 3-on-3 overtime was the game-winner, giving Penn State a 3-2 victory over No. 20 Arizona State.
— Penn State Men’s Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) December 12, 2020
It also spoiled an impressive road comeback for the Sun Devils, who fell behind on first period goals by Alex Limoges and Tim Doherty. But a second period tally by Willie Knierim, his third of the season, and a tying goal by Sean Dhooghe at 3:08 of the third forced overtime.
In the extra session, both teams had chances up and down the ice. But a tired Sun Devils team got caught in a line change allowing MacEachern to skate the puck in from the blue line on a 2-on-1, sniping a shot blocker side for the victory.
The victory is the second in a row for the Nittany Lions after beginning the season 0-5.
LIU 4, RIT 3
Having not played a game since Nov. 22, first-year independent LIU shook off some early rust and rallied for a 4-3 road victory over RIT, the second win in three tries for the startup Sharks.
Will Calverley on the power play and Cody Laskosky shorthanded spotted the host Tigers a 2-0 lead.
But LIU responded with four goals of its own, three coming in the middle stanza. Zack Bross got the Sharks on the board at 4:47 and Gustav Muller followed up at 9:36 to even things.
Mitch Meek grabbed the first lead of the game with a seeing-eye shot from the point at 13:13 of the second. And then, a second after killing a penalty, Bross notched his second of the night, banging a puck off an RIT defender trying to make a pass on a 2-on-1 only to have the puck return to his stick to bury.
— LIU Hockey (@LIUMHockey) December 12, 2020
These two teams will play again on Saturday in Rochester.