ORONO — The University of Maine hadn’t scored a power-play goal since Nov. 13.
Sophomore left wing Adam Shemansky hadn’t lit the goal lamp since Oct. 8.
But the Black Bears first power-play goal after 33 consecutive failures, off the stick of junior left wing Brian Flynn, snapped a 1-1 tie 2:24 into the third period and Shemansky extended the lead 6:55 later as the Black Bears overcame a sluggish start to beat the freshmen-laden University of Massachusetts Minutemen 4-1 at Alfond Arena Sunday afternoon.
Flynn notched a hat trick, his first since he had five goals and two assists in an 8-4 win over UMass Lowell on Feb. 19. He now has five goals in his last three games.
Maine improved to 8-4-4 overall, 6-3-2 in Hockey East, while rebounding from a demoralizing 4-3 overtime loss to archrival New Hampshire on Friday night in which the Bears squandered a 3-1 third-period lead.
Maine is now 6-1-1 at Alfond Arena.
UMass had its three-game winning streak and four-game unbeaten streak snapped in falling to 3-7-3 and 2-4-3, respectively. UMass had won the last five meetings with Maine.
“We didn’t have the first period we were looking for but we set the tempo on the first shift of the second period and carried it through,” said Shemansky.
The Minutemen took a deserved 1-0 lead on a goal by senior left winger Chase Langeraap at the 14:34 mark of the first period as he tapped in a cross-ice pass from Conor Sheary. The quick and tenacious Minutemen, with eight freshmen in the lineup, had the better of the play in that first period and could have had a larger lead if it wasn’t for the goaltending of Maine freshman Dan Sullivan, who made a series of important saves including three of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety. UMass had a 6-2 edge in Grade-A chances.
But the Black Bears regrouped in the intermission and the line of Tanner House between Joey Diamond and Gustav Nyquist buzzed the UMass net with a sustained forecheck to start the second period and Maine took over control of the game.
“(Captain) Tanner House told us we had to come out harder,” said Shemansky.
Flynn tied it at the 5:33 mark off a weird play.
UMass freshman defenseman Adam Phillips was down on his knees hovering over the puck in the left faceoff circle with Robby Dee and Spencer Abbott trying to pry it loose.
“I saw them whacking at it so I stood back (toward the UMass net), the puck came to me and I just shot it quickly. It went five-hole,” said Flynn.
“We had two guys just standing there waiting for the whistle to blow,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon. “You’ve got to keep playing until you hear the whistle.”
Senior Langeraap, who was having his skates sharpened when the goal was scored, said when he returned to the bench his team didn’t have the same “spirit” they had prior to Flynn’s goal.
“That took a lot of wind our of our sails,” said Langeraap.
Maine had nine Grade-A scoring attempts to UMass’ one in the second period but Dainton came up with some key stops to keep things level.
Flynn’s game-winner came off a Gustav Nyquist cross-ice pass as Flynn busted down the left wing while the power-play units were changing up.
He was able to protect the puck on the backhand side from UMass defenseman Colin Shea and cut in on Dainton.
“I brought it over to my forehand and got it off quick,” said Flynn, who was between the bottom of the left faceoff circle and the crease. “It hit the short-side post and went in.”
“It went under my blocker arm,” said Dainton.
Shemansky’s goal came off a wrist shot from the point by Brice O’Connor.
“The shot hit one of my defenseman and deflected across (the slot) and went in off one of their guys,” said Dainton.
“It was trying to get my stick on it but it glanced in off my arm,” said Shemansky, who had cut across the slot.
Freshman goalie Dan Sullivan preserved the two-goal lead by pushing over to his right to save a dangerous 15-footer from Langeraap.
“I saw the play (develop) and was able to get over and square up (to Langeraap) and get my blocker on it,” said Sullivan, who finished with 21 saves, including seven Grade-A’s.
“(Sullivan) played very well and I wish we shot the puck better,” said Cahoon. “We didn’t make any plays in the second half of the game but Maine stayed on the puck and skated and possessed it.”
Flynn iced it with 2:04 remaining when Dee pushed the rebound off a Joey Diamond shot behind the net to Diamond, who slid it out to Flynn for a seven-foot one-timer into the short side past the helpless Dainton, who made 28 saves including 10 Grade-A’s.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said he was glad his Black Bears were presented with a similar scenario to Friday night’s game but, instead of surrendering the lead, “we were able to extend it.”
Dee and Nick Pryor had two assists apiece for Maine.