ESTERO, Fla. — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey team claimed its fourth Florida College Classic championship Wednesday night and did so in dramatic fashion.
For the first time this season, the Black Bears pulled out a victory when trailing after two periods as third-period goals by Brett Carriere and Tanner House supplied them with a 3-2 victory over Colorado College at Germain Arena.
It was Maine’s first Florida College Classic title since 2006.
Maine had been 0-5 when trailing after two periods but Carriere scored for the second time in three games with 10:29 remaining and House got the game-winner 2:23 later while the Bears were enjoying a full two-minute, two-man advantage.
“After the second period, Coach [Tim Whitehead] gave us a challenge. He told us we hadn’t come from behind to win a game,” said Maine junior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen. “It’s nice to get over that hump. This was a huge win for us.”
Maine improved to 10-7-2 and extended its unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2) while Colorado College, the nation’s third-ranked team, fell to 12-5-3 and had its four-game unbeaten streak snapped.
House’s game-winner on a re-direction off a Dimmen point shot came seconds after Whitehead had called a timeout in the midst of the two-man advantage.
“He told us what was open based on how they were playing it,” explained Dimmen, who received a pass from Gustav Nyquist. “He told us it was a critical time in the game. We got it down low and then back up top [for a shot]. I just buried my head and ripped it.”
House said, “[Dimmen] got a good rip on it and, fortunately, I got my stick on it. The puck was up in the air and I just tried to get a piece of it. I changed the direction just a little bit and it fooled [freshman goalie Joe Howe] him a little and went back to his stick side.”
It was House’s second goal of the game.
Carriere had tied it on a breakaway after winning a defensive zone faceoff back to Van Dyk and racing up the ice.
“I told [Van Dyk] I was going to draw it back to him and three of their guys got caught deep. [Van Dyk] made a great pass and I was all alone,” said Carriere. “I had a full head of steam and the ice was pretty choppy so I put my head up, looked for some white mesh and was fortunate enough to see it and put it stick-side high.”
House had scored the only goal in the first period by taking a cross-ice backhand pass from Nyquist and firing a shot that glanced in off Howe.
But Colorado College scored twice in the second period to erase the deficit.
Dave Vivitarese took a pass from Mike Testwuide on a three-on-two and snapped a wrister over the blocker of Maine goalie Scott Darling and Andrew Hamburg gave Colorado College the lead when he was set up nicely by Bill Sweat and deposited it into the half-empty net off a two-on-two.
But Darling kept them off the scoreboard the rest of the way and finished with 30 saves, including 13 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops.
He was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.
“I don’t know how that happened,” quipped Darling. “I must have broken a record … a goalie with a 4.00 goals-against average winning the MVP.
“The forwards did a great job getting back tonight and the defensemen played great. That’s what you have to do to beat a [great] team like Colorado College,” added Darling, who gave up six goals in Tuesday’s 6-6 tie with Princeton.
“Scott deserved it. He played unbelievable for us tonight,” said Dimmen.
After allowing four power- play goals on eight chances against Princeton, Maine killed off all six CC power plays.
“That was one of the biggest reasons we won,” said House.
Howe finished with 22 saves including 11 Grade-A’s.