LOWELL, Mass. — The University of Maine men’s hockey team increased its modest win streak to two on Friday night with a 4-0 shutout of UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Center.
Junior left wing Brian Flynn scored a pair of goals, sophomore center Matt Mangene had his second career multi-point game with a goal and an assist and freshman goalie Dan Sullivan made 21 saves to post his first shutout.
The Black Bears had suffered through a six-game winless streak (0-4-2) before snapping it with a 4-2 victory over Vermont last Saturday night.
Maine is 13-10-6 overall, 10-8-4 in Hockey East, while UMass Lowell fell to 4-23-2 and 3-19-0, respectively. They conclude their series Saturday night at 7:30.
“This was one of our best games of the year,” said Flynn, whose Black Bears outshot the River Hawks 44-21.
Mangene concurred, saying, “We played a full 60 minutes. Everybody was going hard, everybody was taking the body and everybody was backchecking.”
Mangene’s multiple-point game was his first since he had three assists in a 6-2 win over Northeastern on Nov. 13, 2009.
Senior defenseman Jeff Dimmen, who had a goal and an assist, said they played “real well defensively and (Sullivan) stood on his head. He played great for us tonight.”
Mangene snapped a 10-game goalless drought and broke a scoreless deadlock 2:15 into the second period, and Dimmen expanded the lead on the power play at the 15:16 mark.
Flynn added a pair of third-period goals.
Mangene scored when he tipped a low shot from the point by Mike Banwell between the pads of freshman goalie Marc Boulanger.
“We talked all week about getting to the net and screening the goalie,” said Mangene. “I saw Banwell with the puck, and I put my stick out so he could hit it. Luckily, it went through (Boulanger’s pads).”
“I didn’t really see it,” said Boulanger, who closed his pads instinctively only to have it trickle through.
Dimmen scored with a power-play snap shot from the right point off a Kyle Beattie pass.
“I tried to get the shot off quick. One of their forwards came out at me and it hit his stick and deflected over the goalie’s glove,” said Dimmen.
“Our forward did a great job blocking the shot, but the puck was (knuckling),” said Boulanger. “I put my glove up, but it was too late. I’ve never seen a puck which was blocked like that wind up in the net. Nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand, it goes over the net up into the netting (behind the goal).”
Maine dodged a bullet later in the period when a Mark Nemec turnover wound up on the stick of senior defenseman Maury Edwards, whose blistering slap shot from the high slot rang off the crossbar.
Nemec atoned for his mistake with several key penalty-killing clearances and strong defensive zone play.
Maine had several chances to expand the lead on the power play later in the period, but Boulanger made several saves to keep his team within striking distance.
Flynn gave Maine some valuable breathing room 8:16 into the third period. Mangene chased down a Jon Swavely pass behind the net and slid it out to Flynn, who roofed it from just beyond the top of the crease.
“I called for it and put it short side high,” said Flynn, who knew Boulanger would be in the butterfly covering the bottom of the net.
“(Flynn) made a nice play on that one,” said Boulanger.
Flynn iced it 6:08 later when he one-timed a pass from Dimmen between Boulanger’s pads from the middle of the slot.
“I was able to get a quick release and it may have caught (Boulanger) by surprise,” said Flynn.
“I had opened up (my legs) to come across,” said Boulanger.
Sullivan, making his second start after missing seven games with a knee injury, made five Grade-A (high-percentage) saves in the third period to protect his shutout, three coming at the expense of David Vallorani and two more on Michael Budd.
He finished with nine Grade-A saves for the game.
Boulanger played well in defeat, making 10 Grade-A stops among his 40.
Maine carried the play in the first period but couldn’t solve Boulanger.
The Black Bears had a glittering chance early in the period when Boulanger spit out a rebound off a Spencer Abbott shot only to have Robby Dee’s followup wrister from the top of the crease hit the far-side post.
He also robbed Flynn on the doorstep twice off passes from Tanner House.
The River Hawks were without four regulars due to illness (third-leading scorer Matt Ferreira and senior defenseman Ryan Blair), a death in the family (Michael Scheu) and injury (Colin Wright).
UML senior center and captain Scott Campbell returned to the lineup for the first time since October due to injury and worked himself free for a breakaway in the first period only to miss the net.