ORONO – The University of Maine led the nation in power-play percentage at 27.7 percent last season and nine of the 10 players who manned their top two units have returned.
Acadia University (Nova Scotia) made the mistake of giving the Black Bears 13 power-play chances on Sunday night and Maine capitalized three times en route to a 5-1 exhibition triumph at Alfond Arena.
Will O’Neill, Brian Flynn and Gustav Nyquist converted on the power play and Kelen Corkum and Kyle Beattie added even-strength goals while the Bears killed off Acadia’s three power plays. Sophomore Shawn Sirman stopped all eight shots he faced before being replaced by freshman Dan Sullivan midway through the middle period. Sullivan stopped seven of eight.
Andrew Clark scored for Acadia 8:32 into the third period and backup goalie Michael Chiasson made 33 saves in an impressive performance.
“I thought we played hard for all 60 minutes,” said junior left winger Flynn. “We got a lot of power-play looks and that was good because that’s tough to simulate in practice. And our discipline was very good.”
“It was a good test for us,” said junior right wing Nyquist. “They’re a pretty skilled team and they could skate. It’s always good to get a lot of looks on the power play early in the season so we can try to improve on it.”
“They have a good power play, we knew that, and they proved it,” said UNB right wing Chris Bruton, who scored twice in a 3-2 win at Northeastern on Saturday night. “I don’t think we deserved that many penalties. We play a tougher brand of hockey. There’s a lot more hitting. Obviously, it’s not the same here.”
O’Neill scored the only goal in the first period as he took a pass from Nyquist, split a pair of Acadia defenseman and sliced across the low slot before roofing a short wrister over Chiasson’s blocker.
Corkum, playing in his first game in two years due to post-concussion syndrome, extended the lead at the 8:10 mark of the second period with his first collegiate goal.
Freshman center Jon Swavely bravely chipped the puck to him while absorbing a hit and Corkum broke down the ice in a two-on-one with freshman Mark Anthoine of Lewiston.
“I was looking to dish the puck over to Mark but (Chiasson) was cheating over toward him so I figured I’d take the shot,” said Corkum who put it over Chiasson’s glove into the short-side corner from the right circle.
Flynn made it 3-0 with 32 seconds left in the period.
Flynn carried the puck down the right and fed it back to Nick Pryor at the right point. Flynn went to the net front and Pryor’s one-timer deflected off an Acadia defenseman’s stick to him.
“Right spot, right time I guess,” said Flynn.
Nyquist made it 4-0 19 seconds into the third period.
He took a pass from O’Neill and found himself in a one-on-one with an Acadia defenseman.
Nyquist maneuvered cleverly around the defenseman, putting the puck through the defenseman’s skates and picking it up on the other side after getting around him.
“A little spot opened up and I was able to hit it. It went over his glove,” said Nyquist. “It’s always fun to score a goal even if it doesn’t count (on the statistics sheet).”
Clark cut the lead to 4-1 when he snaked across the middle of the slot from right to left and swept the puck inside the post to Sullivan’s right.
But Beattie answered 13 seconds later by finishing off a play in which a diagonal pass to the far post from Adam Shemansky to Matt Mangene was re-directed back over to him in front of an empty net.
Acadia University defenseman Nick Emanuele said “we let our emotions get the better of us at times. Maine has a great team and they played a good game. They have a lot of skill guys, they were a pretty quick team and their power play was tough to stop.”
Maine, which outshot Acadia 38-16, hosts UMass Lowell in their opener on Friday night and UConn the following night.