ORONO — For the second straight Friday night, the University of Maine Black Bears allowed four first-period goals.
The difference was that this game was at the Black Bears’ Alfond Arena, where Maine hadn’t allowed more than two goals in a period this season.
The University of Vermont Catamounts turned in an impressive performance, using its four-goal, first-period outburst to deal the Black Bears an embarrassing 7-2 loss.
The teams conclude the series Saturday night at 7.
The youthful Catamounts, with 11 freshmen and sophomores in the lineup, improved to 7-15-5 overall, 4-12-4 in Hockey East, while Maine had its winless streak extended to six games (0-4-2) and is now 11-10-6 and 8-8-4.
The Catamounts, whose 2.08 goals-per-game average was 55th among 58 Division I teams, went 3-for-6 on the power play while holding Maine scoreless in eight attempts including a five-on-three that spanned 1:31 and a full two-minute four-on-three.
UVM had entered the game with the nation’s 54th-ranked power-play percentage and 52nd-rated penalty-killing percentage.
“This was a total team effort,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “The power play generated three goals and the penalty kill was the biggest thing, especially killing off the five-on-three. From the net out, I thought we did a great job on the penalty kill.”
“I was proud of the guys. They played a complete game right until the final buzzer,” added Sneddon.
UVM took a 3-0 lead on goals by Chris McCarthy, Kyle Medvec and Jack Downing. After Theo Andersson got one back for Maine, Anthony DeCenzo re-established the three-goal lead 23 seconds later.
Maine managed just three shots on goal during the five-on-three early in the second period, but Gustav Nyquist’s shorthanded goal at the 6:57 mark gave the Black Bears some life, only to have DeCenzo answer 41 seconds later.
Sebastian Stalberg and Downing put the finishing touches on the win with third-period goals.
“The turning points were DeCenzo’s two goals that came right after they had scored,” said senior left wing and assistant captain Downing. “That pretty much says it all about tonight.”
It was the second straight game that UVM scored seven goals as the Catamounts beat Providence 7-1 Saturday night.
Freshman Dan Sullivan made his first start since injuring his knee during a game-day skate on Jan. 14, and he surrendered the first three goals before being replaced by Martin Ouellette.
Vermont’s first shot on goal produced its first score as Stalberg’s open wrister from the left circle spilled off Sullivan’s chest to McCarthy, who tapped it home.
Medvec made it 2-0 by carrying the puck untouched from the left point around the net and jamming home his own rebound after Sullivan stopped his initial wrap-around attempt.
Downing made it 3-0 by finishing off a textbook passing sequence.
Drew MacKenzie fed the puck to the wide-open Downing in the middle of the slot, and he beat Sullivan with a wrister past Sullivan’s blocker.
After Ouellette replaced Sullivan, Andersson scored his first goal of the season. He was set up by Matt Mangene in the left circle and snapped a wrist shot over the glove of UVM goalie Rob Madore.
DeCenzo then scored off the rebound of Anders Franzon’s screened shot from the point.
“Chris (McCarthy) and Sebastian (Stalberg) did a great job getting to the net and creating a scrum,” said DeCenzo. “The puck hit something and ended up on my stick and I had the whole net.”
Nyquist’s shorthanded goal came off a two-on-one with Tanner House.
Nyquist carried the puck into the zone, let a UVM defenseman slide past him and then roofed a wrister into the far corner.
But the Bears botched a three-on-three attack when Black Bears Robby Dee and Josh Van Dyk ran into each other and fell.
That provided the Catamounts with a rare five-on-two, and DeCenzo capitalized after Ouellette had made a couple of point-blank stops.
“We had numbers and I looked back and (Nick) Bruneteau was calling for it, so I gave it to him because he’s a pretty good playmaker,” explained DeCenzo. “I let him do the rest. He made a nice toe-drag and put it on net. Tobias (Nilsson-Roos) and (Josh) Burrows went hard to the net and created a little scrum and the puck was right there for me.
“On both goals, my linemates did the work and made it pretty easy for me.”
Maine’s Van Dyk said DeCenzo’s second goal was the “turning point” and called the loss devastating.
“They came out firing and played well. They deserved to win,” said Van Dyk. “We’ve got to come out a lot harder Saturday and sustain it for 60 minutes.”
“Everyone has to look at themselves,” said Nyquist. “We all made mistakes. You’ve got to give credit to Vermont. They played a great game. They had a good power play. They worked hard down low.”
Shawn Sirman came on to replace Ouellette after the Downing goal in the third period.
Maine outshot Vermont 36-25.
Madore made 34 saves.
McCarthy had three assists and Stalberg and Matt White had two assists each, while DeCenzo had one to go with his two goals.