PORTLAND, Maine — The 5,279 fans on hand at the Cumberland County Civic Center to watch the University of Maine’s annual hockey game in Portland hadn’t even settled in their seats when the Black Bears took a 1-0 lead over perennial ECAC contender St. Lawrence University on Saturday night.
It was 2-0 before they finished their soda and 3-0 before they consumed their popcorn.
And it continued as the Black Bears reached double figures for the first time since a 12-5 win over Boston College on Nov. 22, 1997 by virtue of their 10-1 triumph over the Saints.
Maine improved to 6-7-1 overall with a dynamic performance coming on the heels of Friday night’s impressive 3-1 Hockey East win at UMass Lowell against the nation’s third-ranked team.
St. Lawrence fell to 7-6-1.
Fifteen of Maine’s 18 skaters figured in the scoring led by the recently reunited line of junior center and captain Tanner House between sophomores Brian Flynn and Gustav Nyquist. That line combined for five goals and eight assists as left wing Flynn had two goals and three assists; House had two and two and right wing Nyquist added a goal and three assists.
They were linemates most of last season but had played just one game together this season until being reunited. This was their third consecutive game back together.
“It’s nice to be back with those two guys,” said Flynn, who hasn’t had a five-point game since junior hockey. “We picked up where we left off last year.”
Nyquist added, “It’s fun to play with them. We have great chemistry out there.”
“They’re both great players,” said House. “They make my job pretty easy. I let them work down low and get creative and I hang out in the slot and they find me all the time. I’m glad we’re back together.”
“We knew they were good players coming in. We weren’t able to stop them,” said St. Lawrence senior center Travis Vermeulen.
Maine’s potent power play also snapped out of a four-game, 3-for-24 slump with five power- play goals in eight attempts.
St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh said it was the most lopsided loss he can recall in his 25 years at St. Lawrence.
“That was men against boys out there,” said Marsh. “Maine did a great job. They played with a lot of intensity. They looked like the Maine Black Bears of old. I’m a little embarrassed, to be honest with you, to come to a great venue like this and not put on a better show.”
“They were hungrier than we were,” said SLU senior first line right wing Mike McKenzie, who was without injured linemates Kyle Flanagan and Jeremiah Cunningham. “They’re a very good team. They move the puck very well.”
Maine junior center Robby Dee had a pair of goals and an assist in the five-goal first period and he opened the scoring 29 seconds into the game by converting an errant cross-ice pass that he picked off in the high slot.
“I got a quick shot off to the upper right corner [over the glove of SLU goalie Alex Petizian]. That’s a place I like to shoot,” said Dee. “I saw an opening there.”
Maine went on the power play and House finished off a pass from Dee at the 3:42 mark.
“Robby was driving wide and I jumped into the play. I was the high guy in the slot and I called for it. I knew we had a three-on-two. Robby laid it back to me and I one-timed it to the blocker side,” said House.
Nyquist expanded the lead at the 8:54 mark after defenseman Ryan Hegarty rescued a puck in the corner and fired a bullet pass to him at the far post.
“That was an unbelievable pass,” said Nyquist. “He saucered it [in the air] over two sticks and it landed right on my stick for a tap-in goal.”
Flynn and Dee added power-play goals at the 14:49 and 17:58 marks to supply Maine with its first five-goal period since the third period of its 8-4 win Western Michigan in the Florida College Classic on Dec. 29, 2006.
The unattended Flynn drove down the middle of the low slot and jammed home a pass from behind the net by Adam Shemansky before Dee cut around a Saints defenseman, who fell down, and roofed a backhander.
Maine’s Joey Diamond, Will O’Neill and Flynn scored in the second period at the expense of Kain Tisi before Jared Keller netted SLU’s goal.
Maine closed out the scoring in the third period when House scored his fifth goal in three games since his line has been reunited and sophomore right wing Theo Andersson notched his first collegiate goal.
“Everybody did a great job tonight,” said Nyquist.
“When you see guys blocking shots with 10 seconds left [in a 10-1 game], that says a lot about our team,” said Flynn.
Maine’s Scott Darling made 17 saves on 18 shots through two periods before Dave Wilson stopped all five shots he faced in the third.
Petizian, Tisi and third-period goalie Robby Moss combined for 14 saves for the Saints.
Maine outshot St. Lawrence 34-23 in extending its unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1).