PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The University of Maine men’s hockey team found a new way to add to its victory total on Saturday night.
The Black Bears scored their first two shorthanded goals of the season and freshman goalie Scott Darling made 24 saves as Maine extended its winning streak to five games with an impressive 3-0 victory over the Providence College Friars at Schneider Arena.
The five consecutive wins marks Maine’s longest streak since it began the 2006-2007 season with seven straight triumphs. Maine is now 6-3 overall, 3-2 in Hockey East.
Darling’s shutout was his second of the season. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his six starts.
Providence fell to 2-7-1 and 0-6-1, respectively. The Friars have lost three straight and are winless in their last six (0-5-1).
Sophomore center Tanner House’s shorthanded goal in the second period proved to be the game-winner, and freshman right wing Gustav Nyquist added a shorthanded goal in the third period before capping the scoring with an even-strength goal with 1:18 left.
The Bears were a much different team than the one that clawed out a 3-2 win on Friday night despite getting outshot by the Friars 37-17.
On Saturday, Maine played solid, two-way hockey and outshot PC 36-24.
“We knew we had to be better than [Friday night]. Scotty [Darling] kind of stole one for us [Friday] night,” House said. “We weren’t happy. So, right from the get-go, we just wanted to play a consistent game and, for the most part, we did that.”
“We were a lot more focused, right off the bat,” Nyquist said. “We played real solid defensively. We forced a lot of turnovers.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead called it a “very thorough win.”
“We took care of defense first. We protected [Darling] really well,” said Whitehead. “We kept their shots to the outside. I thought we swarmed the puck pretty well, too. We were always on the defensive side of the loose pucks, which I was very pleased to see.”
House opened the scoring 7:37 into the second period by capitalizing on a mistake by freshman goalie Justin Gates, who mishandled the puck in the corner and lost it to House.
“I was pretty lucky,” said House. “The boards are pretty lively and when the goalie came out to play it, it bounced off the boards really quick and he wasn’t ready for it. It came right to me and I had the wide-open net [for a wraparound]. It was a pretty easy one.”
Nyquist’s shorthanded goal came off a two-on-one with House 4:09 into the third period.
Nyquist held the puck as he cruised down the right wing, looked over to House a few times as if he was going to pass it and then fired a rising wrist shot over Gates’ glove into the short-side corner.
“[Jeff] Dimmen had done a great job blocking a shot and the puck came bouncing to me off the boards,” said Nyquist. “Tanner did a good job driving the net, and I saw an open space up top and I put it there.”
Nyquist sewed it up when he jammed home a House rebound from the edge of the crease.
Despite the three goals, Gates turned in a stellar 33-save performance, including 15 on Grade-A (high-percentage) shots.
“Maine completely outplayed us. They played really well,” said Providence coach Tim Army. “Justin kept us in it.”
Darling finished with 13 saves of Grade-A shots among his 24 saves, including a gem off second-team All-HE defenseman Matt Taormina during a wild flurry in the final minute of the second period.
Darling made an initial save off Taormina’s shot from the high slot and Matt Germain’s follow-up hit the post before Taormina regained the puck, maneuvered around a couple of Bears and found a clear path down the left side of the slot.
“I tried to go underneath his blocker arm [short side], which was open. But my shot nicked his arm and fell onto his pad,” said Taormina. “He played pretty well.”