BURLINGTON, Vt. — University of Maine senior left wing and assistant captain Spencer Abbott notched his first career hat trick and a career-high five points and his linemate, senior center Brian Flynn, had a goal and three assists as the Black Bear men’s hockey team rallied for a 6-4 Hockey East win over Vermont at the Gutterson Fieldhouse Friday night.
Maine improved to 5-6-2 overall, 4-5-1 in Hockey East, while Vermont fell to 3-9-1 and 1-7-1, respectively.
The teams will play again Saturday night at 7.
In posting their first road win of the season after three losses and two ties, the Black Bears scored three times in a span of 3:11 midway through the third period to erase a 3-2 deficit.
The first two goals came on the power play courtesy of a five-minute major on H.T. Lenz for head-butting. Maine’s Brice O’Connor received a two-minute minor for hitting after the whistle on the same play.
Maine’s Mark Anthoine tied the game at the 8:54 mark when he one-timed a Kyle Beattie pass past UVM goalie Rob Madore. It was his third goal of the year and all have come on the power play.
Abbott converted a Flynn pass 24 seconds later by jamming the puck past Madore.
“I was along the (extended) goal line when (Flynn) gave me the puck. I came out front with it and put it five-hole,” said Abbott.
He capped the spree with an even-strength goal 2:47 later at the 12:05 mark of the period.
Flynn took a UVM defenseman wide and was able to shovel a backhand pass across to Abbott.
“I got lucky. It went through a bunch of skates,” said Flynn.
Abbott said he fired it “to the far side” past Madore.
Joey Diamond scored Maine’s third power-play goal of the period with 5:39 remaining when he fired home a rebound. Abbott and Will O’Neill assisted on it.
“Everything went my way tonight,” said Abbott, who entered the game with 98 career points and is now sitting with 103.
He said the 100-point plateau was on his mind entering the game and he was pleased to reach the plateau in an impressive win.
“Our line (with Flynn and Diamond) played great. The whole team did,” said Abbott, who had an overtime game-winner in a 3-2 win over Vermont at the Gutterson Fieldhouse last season.
Flynn said he was happy for his linemate.
“He really deserved it,” said Flynn who noted that he has watched Abbott improve steadily throughout his career. “He is one of the most skilled forwards in the league.”
Vermont’s Mike Montagna finished off the scoring on the power play as time elapsed.
Maine went 3-for-5 on the power play and the Black Bears have now scored nine power-play goals on its last 19 chances.
Vermont went 2-for-8 with the man advantage.
Vermont’s Connor Brickley opened the scoring 8:03 into the game but Flynn tied it with a one-timer off an Abbott pass and Abbott gave Maine the lead just 1:19 later after being set up by O’Neill and Flynn
Lenz tied it 54 seconds into the second period by converting on a breakaway off a Brickley pass and Drew MacKenzie gave Vermont the lead with a one-timer on the power play.
Vermont had a golden opportunity to add to the lead with a two-man advantage, its second of the period, that spanned 1:03 but Maine goalie Dan Sullivan came up with some timely saves and his mates made some important clears.
“Sully came up with some big saves when we needed them. He kept us in the game,” said Flynn.
“He played real well,” concurred Abbott.
Sullivan finished with 29 saves while Madore wound up with 14.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said there were several turning points in the game.
“Killing the five-on-three was huge. They had a chance to extend their lead,” said Whitehead. “(Defensemen) Ryan Hegarty and Mark Nemec were huge as always. (Sullivan) came up with some big stops (throughout the game) and we scored in bunches.”
He said he was pleased for Abbott, who came to Maine as a “relative unknown and has developed into an elite player. He has so much poise on the ice.”
He also liked his team’s resiliency as the Catamounts got the game’s first six power plays but his team persevered.