ORONO — It is becoming routine for the University of Maine men’s hockey team.
In five of their six games so far, they have either been tied in the third period, ahead by a goal or behind by a goal.
Sophomore goalie Dan Sullivan made 13 of his 26 saves, including seven of his eight Grade-A (high-percentage) stops, in the third period as the Black Bears completed a weekend sweep of the Providence College Friars with a hard-fought 3-1 triumph at Alfond Arena Saturday night.
Junior defenseman Matt Mangene, a converted forward, broke a 1-1 tie 23 seconds into the second period and Klas Leidermark added an empty-netter with one second remaining as the Black Bears improved to 3-2-1 overall, 3-1 in Hockey East.
PC fell to 2-3-1 and 2-2, respectively.
Adam Shemansky gave Maine a 1-0 lead 10:55 into the game but Damian Cross equalized on the power play 1:57 later.
“We had some great chances in the third,” said Providence head coach and former Maine assistant Nate Leaman. “But you’ve got to give their goalie credit. He stood tall when he needed to.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said Sullivan was great.
“He was very composed. He was great with the puck. He was good in scrambles. They were crashing the net but he held his ground,” Whitehead said.
“Some of my saves were unorthodox but it was great to see that we were able to pull off that win,” said Sullivan. “These were huge points this weekend.”
Maine beat Providence 5-4 in overtime on Friday night.
“We were scrambling around in the third period but (Sullivan) kept it out of the net,” said Mangene. “He was awesome.”
The Friars generated several goal-mouth scrambles particularly after they pulled goalie Alex Beaudry in favor of the extra attacker with 2:04 remaining.
“I was just trying to keep my eyes on the puck,” said Sullivan. “There were a lot of people in front. I did my best to try to calm it down and cover the puck up to stop play.
“I tried to create a wall. I tried to be as big as possible to take up as much of the net as I could. I did everything I could to stop the puck and our defensemen helped out tremendously in front,” added Sullivan. “There were a couple of times when they got three or four whacks at the puck but it usually just pinballed around.”
“Somehow, they found a way to keep the puck out of the net. That’s what good teams do. They know how to win,” said Friars senior left winger and co-captain Andy Balysky, who had a tying goal waved off because it went in the net after the whistle had blown.
The Friars played a much more physical game than they did on Friday night and had seven power plays to Maine’s three.
But after Cross scored on their second power play, Maine made some adjustments and killed off the next five including four in a row during a span of 20:48 that bridged the second and third periods.
“We talked about forcing them to pass the puck down low and not let them get it to the points,” said junior center Leidermark, who was one of the key penalty-killers and faceoff men. “They wanted their big guy (defenseman Myles Harvey) to shoot a lot. We didn’t let them play their game.”
Mangene added, “We had our forwards get in the shooting zones a little more and pressure them into putting the puck into the corners where our defensemen could clamp down on them and clear it.”
Leaman said Maine’s penalty-killers outworked Providence’s power play.
“We had one of those nights when we were fighting the puck a lot,” he said.
Mangene, who also assisted on Leidermark’s goal to give him a five-point weekend (1 goal, 4 assists), was set up by Brian Flynn as he raced down the right wing and one-timed it past Beaudry.
“(Will O’Neill) got the puck up to (Flynn) quickly. (Flynn) took it wide and (Abbott) drove the net. (Flynn) found me on the weak side and I put it short side. I knew I had to take a quick shot. I worked on that all summer,” Mangene said.
“I tried to get across as quick as I could but it was well-placed right over my pad and next to my glove,” said Beaudry, who finished with 25 saves including nine Grade-As in an impressive performance. “I wish I was maybe an inch taller and had a longer reach.”
Shemansky opened the scoring when a PC defenseman “fired the puck into my pads and I walked in (alone).
“I knew I had to get the puck up on Beaudry,” said Shemansky, who roofed the puck over the goalie’s glove.
Cross answered by firing the puck into a half-empty net from the left circle after a flurry in front.
“It was a highly-contested series,” said Whitehead. “Both teams fought hard and we were fortunate to come out with four points.”