PROVIDENCE, R.I. — University of Maine freshman left winger Brian Flynn scored the game-winner last Sunday and, on Friday night, he set up the game-winner against Providence College.
Flynn fed the puck across to unattended sophomore defenseman Jeff Dimmen, who chipped it into the short-side corner with 8:19 remaining to give the Black Bears a 3-2 victory over the Friars.
Maine’s fourth straight win improved the Bears’ record to 5-3 overall, 2-2 in Hockey East. Providence fell to 2-6-1 and 0-5-1, respectively.
Providence has now gone five games without a win (0-4-1). The teams will play again tonight at 7.
The Friars outshot the Bears 37-17, but Maine freshman goalie Scott Darling turned in another stellar effort as he finished with 35 saves, including 12 on Grade-A (high-percentage) shots. PC freshman goalie Justin Gates made 14 saves, including five on Grade-As.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead felt his Bears were fortunate to get the win.
“We won with our special teams and goal-tending,” said Whitehead. “It wasn’t a pretty game for us. Providence played very well and deserved a better fate. One positive sign is you have to learn to win in different ways. And I know we can play a lot better.”
The speedy Friars had a decided edge in territorial play, attempting 49 shots to Maine’s 29, but the Bears did a respectable job protecting the front of their net and they proved to be opportunistic.
The game-winner came in a four-on-four as Lem Randall was able to win a battle for the puck in the neutral zone and send it ahead to Flynn.
Flynn said Randall made a great play by blocking a Friar pass and getting it to him.
“I didn’t see Dimmen, but then I heard him yelling and banging his stick,” said Flynn, who threw it across to him from the left corner.
“I was staying wide, following the play,” said Dimmen. “Flynn made a great pass and I put it up high.”
Gates had no chance as he desperately tried to scramble across.
Flynn said he didn’t give Dimmen an easy pass to handle.
“He deserves more credit [for converting it] than he’ll probably get,” said Flynn. “It was a hard pass.”
The game’s first three goals came on the power play.
Gustav Nyquist opened the scoring for the Black Bears, but Austin Mayer tied it up in the second period before Kevin Swallow re-established the lead for Maine with his first goal as a Black Bear after transferring from Dartmouth College. That gave the Bears eight power-play goals in their last 22 chances spanning five games.
Matt Taormina drew the Friars even 6:29 into the third period in a four-on-four situation.
Nyquist’s third goal of the season came off assists from Simon Danis-Pepin and Chris Hahn. Hahn extended his points streak to four games with the assist and Danis-Pepin lengthened his streak to three games.
Nyquist took a pass from Danis-Pepin, skated across to the middle of the slot and took a wrister that appeared to deflect off a Friar stick and nestle in the far corner over the blocker of Gates.
Mayer’s tying goal came about when he darted out of the corner to the left of Maine goalie Darling and threw the puck across the goalmouth, where it deflected off Maine defenseman Will O’Neill’s stick and sailed over Darling’s blocker into the far corner.
Swallow’s go-ahead goal from a difficult angle to Gates’ right was meant to generate a re-bound.
“But it hit [Gates’] skate and deflected in,” said Swallow, whose wrister glanced through the five-hole.
Taormina knotted things up in the third when he followed up a shot by Matt Bergland and poked the puck between the prone Darling’s pads. Darling had fumbled Bergland’s wrister and tried to cover it.
“That was my fault,” said Darling.
But that was one of the few mistakes he made.
“It was a good game. Most of their shots were from the outside,” said Darling. “After we went ahead 3-2, I only had to face two challenging shots the rest of the way. The guys did a good job defensively.”
PC sophomore right wing Mayer said the 6-foot-5 Darling was sharp.
“He takes up a ton of net and doesn’t give you much to shoot at,” said Mayer, who was a constant scoring threat. “He doesn’t waste any motion.”
Tonight, Maine will probably be without sophomore defenseman Josh Van Dyk, who suffered a shoulder injury in the third period. Van Dyk plays on the power play and penalty kill as well as taking a regular shift.
Flynn had two assists to extend his points streak to four games (2 goals, 3 assists), and Dimmen, who had an assist to go with his goal, has now registered a point in three straight games (2 & 2).