PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The University of Maine men’s hockey team rebounded from Friday night’s embarrassing loss to Boston College with a much better effort and performance against Providence College on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Black Bears, the result was the same.
Sophomore goalie Alex Beaudry made 37 saves and the opportunistic Friars scored three second-period goals, including two just 48 seconds apart in the final minute of the period, and held off a late Maine rally for a 3-2 triumph at Schneider Arena.
Providence improved to 9-10-1 overall, 4-8-1 in Hockey East, while Maine fell to 11-9-2 and 8-6-1, respectively. BC beat Maine Friday night 6-1.
Providence’s Matt Bergland scored off a two-on-one to break a scoreless deadlock 10:30 into the second period before Aaron Jamnick and Kyle MacKinnon scored at the 19:04 and 19:52 marks. MacKinnon’s goal came on the power play.
Spencer Abbott ruined Beaudry’s shutout bid with 56 seconds left in regulation and Brian Flynn made things interesting by scoring 24 seconds later. But Maine couldn’t get the equalizer.
“They capitalized on their chances and we ran into a hot goalie,” said Maine sophomore defenseman Will O’Neill. “We played pretty well but not as well as we would have liked.”
Maine junior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen said the team worked really hard Saturday night.
“We came out of the gates pretty good and stuck to the game plan a little bit more,” he said. “We got the puck in deep and tried to get after it. But their goalie played great and they kept us to the perimeter pretty well and cleared away the rebounds. They made it tough on us and we didn’t get to the net well enough.”
“This wasn’t even one of my tougher weekends because the defense boxed out so well,” said Beaudry, who had made 28 saves in Friday’s 3-1 win over Boston University. “There were no secondary opportunities.”
Beaudry made 11 Grade-A saves among his 37.
Maine dominated the first period, outshooting the Friars 11-3.
Maine continued to generate chances in the second period with Beaudry making good saves off one-timers by David deKastrozza and Matt Mangene to keep the game scoreless.
Providence broke through when Dimmen’s pass intended for Gustav Nyquist was picked off by MacKinnon, who chipped it off the boards to Ian O’Connor for a two-on-one with Bergland, who one-timed it home.
“[O’Connor] might have dropped his shoulder a little bit and that committed the goalie and their defenseman and then he slid it over to me and I just threw it on net,” said Bergland.
“He caught me going the other way and it went through my legs,” said Maine freshman goalie Shawn Sirman, filling in for the injured Scott Darling (sprained knee ligament).
Jamnick extended the lead after having his initial shot kicked out by Sirman. The rebound came out to the slot but Paul Golden’s follow-up shot popped over the net.
“[Golden] followed it behind the net and passed it out to me,” said Jamnick. “I don’t think [Sirman] knew where it was and I put it to the near post.”
Dimmen was called for interference 31 seconds later and MacKinnon capitalized off a pinpoint feed from Bergland, who corralled a loose puck behind the net after Maine’s Tanner House lost his stick.
“I stepped out on the other side of the net and [Bergland] was able to take one step and slide it over to me for an easy goal [into the short side],” said MacKinnon.
“We had a couple of breakdowns in our own end in the second period. I needed to make the big saves and I didn’t,” said Sirman, who made 18 saves, including six Grade-A’s, through two periods before being replaced by Dave Wilson (five saves) at the outset of the third period.
Maine had 17 third-period shots but couldn’t score until Abbott circled off the boards to the high slot and beat Beaudry with a low wrister.
Flynn cut it to 3-2 when Nyquist rolled a weak shot toward the far post while he was falling down and Flynn’s backhander deflected off a Providence stick, popped in the air and evaded the desperate Beaudry’s glove.
But Maine couldn’t tie it up.
“We’re frustrated with the result but the effort was great,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, whose Bears were also without centers Robby Dee (broken bone in his foot) and Kyle Solomon (groin).