ORONO — Senior center Chris Hahn picked a perfect time for his first goal of the season.
Hahn broke a 2-2 tie 6:23 into the third period to lead the University of Maine’s Black Bears to a 4-2 nonconference victory over Niagara University of College Hockey America Friday night.
Sophomore center Tanner House’s second goal of the game with 6:47 remaining cemented it.
Maine improved to 2-3 while the Purple Eagles fell to 2-4-1. The teams play again tonight at 7:30.
Niagara University had the better of the play throughout, outshooting Maine 35-22 and attempting 65 shots to Maine’s 44.
But Maine was opportunistic and the Bears killed off a pair of five-on-threes spanning 52 sec-onds and 1:11, respectively, as well as a four-on-three that lasted 1:36.
“We had chances to put them away on the power play but we didn’t,” said Niagara coach Dave Burkholder. “They had three big guys and they did a great job blocking shots.”
The Bears also received an exceptional performance from junior goalie Dave Wilson, who made 33 saves including 12 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops.
“He made the first save and did a real good job controlling his rebounds,” said Burkholder.
Wilson said he was “very happy” with the way he played but noted that there was some good fortune involved, also.
“I got lucky at times. They missed a few empty nets,” said Wilson.
Niagara’s Brian Dowd scored the only goal in the first period, a period dominated by the Purple Eagles to the tune of a 15-4 shots-on-goal advantage. His goal came on the power play, snapping Maine’s streak of 18 consecutive kills.
Gustav Nyquist and House (power play) scored 55 seconds apart early in the second period to give Maine its first lead of the game but NU’s Ryan Olidis tied it up with 2:55 left in the middle period.
Maine capitalized on Purple Eagle miscues in the third period.
Hahn’s goal came off an errant diagonal pass by Purple Eagle defenseman Travis Anderson.
“I knocked it out of the air and the goalie [Adam Avramenko] got caught deep in the net,” said Hahn. “I tried to get it off quick before he was able to get the angle on me.”
Hahn fired a 30-foot snap shot over the glove of Avramenko.
House’s insurance goal was set up by Brian Flynn as Avramenko left the puck behind his own net without realizing Flynn was there.
The alert Flynn pounced on it and rolled it through the slot where House one-timed a wrister past Avramenko.
“Flynn did a great job and I just tried to get the shot off quick because the goalie was back in his net. I put it low, blocker side,” said House.
“It was good that we were able to capitalize tonight,” said Hahn whose Bears had scored just four goals in their previous four games.
Dowd opened the scoring when Vince Rocco sent a pass from post to post and Dowd swatted it past Wilson, who bailed the Bears out the rest of the period as the aggressive Purple Eagles cycled the puck effectively.
Nyquist tied it 1:46 into the second period when he received a pass from Mike Banwell and sailed a wrister over the glove hand of Avramenko from the top of the circle.
“Hahn was screening in front so I don’t think the goalie saw it,” said Nyquist.
House made it 2-1 off a Nyquist pass from behind the net. House was positioned to Avramenko’s right and one-timed a 14-footer under the crossbar.
“[Nyquist] made a great pass,” said House.
Olidis tied it with a nice individual effort as he carried the puck from right to left across the slot and wristed a 20-footer through a maze of players past Wilson.
Nyquist had two assists to go with his goal and Hahn had one to accompany his goal.
Avramenko, Niagara’s back-up goalie, finished with 18 saves including seven Grade-A’s. Starter Julian Pagliero will start tonight against Maine freshman netminder Scott Darling.
Burkholder said the third-period mistakes were costly and negated their effort.
“I thought the ice was tilted [in our favor] five-on-five. The team that gets to the top of the [opponents’] crease more usually wins but we weren’t rewarded for it tonight,” said Burkholder, whose Purple Eagles were without the injured Ted Cook, who led the nation in goals (32) and power-play goals (21) two years ago.