Sullivan, Abbott, Diamond help Maine hockey team sweep Vermont

Posted Dec. 03, 2011, at 10:25 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 04, 2011, at 10:54 a.m.

BURLINGTON, Vt. — University of Maine senior left wing Spencer Abbott had a career-high five-point night in Friday’s win over the University of Vermont and he followed that up with a four-point night (two goals, two assists) on Saturday as Maine completed a two-game sweep with a 5-2 triumph at the Gutterson Fieldhouse.

The victory extended the Black Bears’ winning streak to three games and they improved to 6-6-2 overall, 5-5-1 in Hockey East.

Vermont fell to 3-10-1 and 1-8-1, respectively.

Junior right wing Joey Diamond, who is on a line with Abbott and senior center Brian Flynn, had a pair of goals 4:17 apart in the first period and added an assist. Flynn had a pair of assists.

Matt Mangene scored the other Maine goal as the Black Bears built a 5-0 lead before Vermont’s Connor Brickley scored a shorthanded goal 5:45 into the third period and Brett Bruneteau added a consolation goal with 27 seconds left.

“This was a great weekend for us. The guys played really hard,” said Maine sophomore goalie Dan Sullivan, who finished with 29 saves including 12 in the first period when UVM outshot Maine 12-6.

“I was really happy for the guys,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
“[Sullivan] was the difference early. They threw the kitchen sink at us like I thought they would. Then we struck quickly with Joey’s two goals against the flow of the game and that was demoralizing for them.

“We played extremely well in the second period, it was probably our best period of the weekend,” added Whitehead whose Bears extended the lead to 4-0 in the middle period on goals 6:59 apart by Abbott.

He felt his team did the little things necessary to win.

“We blocked a lot of shots and took hits to make plays,” said Whitehead.

UVM coach Kevin Sneddon agreed.

“Maine did a lot of the little things that we did Friday night like winning puck battles and playing tough in their own zone,” said Sneddon on the UVM website. “We had a lot of puck possession but we didn’t have a lot of great looks like we did Friday.

“I have to tip my hat to Maine,” he added. “I thought they played a lot hungrier than we did and I told our guys we can’t expect to make that many mistakes in a hockey game and have any sort of success.”

“This was a big confidence-builder for us,” said Diamond. “We needed to prove we can come on the road and get some wins.”

Maine had been 0-3-2 on the road before the sweep.

“We played better than we did on Friday night,” said Abbott. “[Sullivan] played real well.”

Diamond scored his goals at the 10:30 and 14:47 marks to stake Maine to a lead it would never relinquish.

His first goal was a power-play goal when he deflected a Mangene shot past John Vazzano.

He then converted a two-on-one by snapping a Flynn pass past Vazzano.

That goal came seconds after UVM’s Bruneteau rang a shot off the crossbar.

“I cut to the middle and shot it low, glove-side,” said Diamond.

Abbott scored a pair of even-strength goals in the second period and Mangene added a power-play goal in the third period to give Maine 11 power-play goals over their last 22 chances.

Abbott’s first goal came off a Diamond feed.

“We had been having a great shift and Joey passed it out front to me. My first shot went into the goalie’s pads but I kept whacking at the puck,” said Abbott.

His second came on a breakaway off a Will O’Neill pass.

“They had a sloppy line change and Will sent me in alone,” said Abbott. “I went to my backhand and put it upstairs.”

“Spencer has been an offensive juggernaut all year,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan felt he had a better performance than he did on Friday.

“I thought I had good focus throughout the game,” said Sullivan. “I didn’t let down. I thought I should have had the second and third goals on Friday night.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the defense and the forwards. They blocked a lot of shots at key moments. There were some scrambles [in front of an exposed net] and they cleared the front of the net.”

O’Neill had two assists and Mangene had an assist to go with his goal.

Brickley and Bruneteau had a goal and an assist apiece for Vermont.

Vazzano turned aside 22 shots.

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