The University of Maine men’s hockey team had to hang on to beat Clarkson in Portland on Nov. 26, but the rematch Thursday afternoon was a different story.
Maine received goals from six different players and outshot the Golden Knights 36-19 en route to a comfortable 6-1 triumph in the 12th annual Florida College Classic at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla.
Maine won the November game 4-3.
Maine, now 7-7-2, will face Hockey East rival the University of Massachusetts in Friday’s 7:35 p.m. championship game.
UMass, now 6-7-4, upset 13th-ranked Cornell 5-2 Thursday night.
Clarkson, 9-8-4, will play ECAC rival Cornell, 7-4-1, in the 4:05 consolation game.
Maine and UMass battled to a 2-2 overtime tie in Amherst, Mass., on Nov. 18.
The Black Bears’ top line of senior left wing Spencer Abbott, senior center Brian Flynn and junior right wing Joey Diamond, Maine’s three leading scorers, respectively, combined for three goals and five assists. Flynn and Abbott had a goal and two assists apiece and Diamond had a goal and an assist.
Senior defenseman Ryan Hegarty and junior left wing Adam Shemansky had a goal and an assist apiece, and sophomore right wing Mark Anthoine had the other goal.
Louke Oakley capped the scoring with a consolation goal for Clarkson with 10:24 left in regulation.
Clarkson was without standout senior goalie Paul Karpowich, who was sidelined due to illness. Karpowich leads the country in minutes played, is second in save percentage (.938) and is ninth in goals-against average (1.93). He had started 42 consecutive games dating back to last season.
Flynn opened the scoring against junior Cody Rosen, playing in just his fifth career game, as he converted on the power play at the 8:25 mark of the first period.
Hegarty scored what proved to be the game-winner 2:26 later and Abbott scored a four-on-four goal with 1:13 remaining in the period.
Shemansky scored his fifth goal of the season and third against Clarkson 7:30 into the second period before Anthoine converted 2:39 later at the expense of senior goalie Richie LaVeau while the Bears were shorthanded.
Diamond extended the lead on the power play 3:18 into the final period.
“I think the guys paid the price over the break. We definitely looked like we were in much better shape [than Clarkson] out there,” said Flynn.
“We came out strong, got off to a good start and built off that,” said Abbott.
Flynn and Abbott were both pleased with the fact the team kept extending the lead and never let the Golden Knights get back into the game.
“The last few years, we haven’t been putting teams away,” said Abbott. “We’ve let teams back into games. [Head coach Tim Whitehead] came into the locker room after the second period and told us to step on their throats and not let them back into the game. We did that. Everybody worked hard.”
“This was one of our best games of the season. We stuck to the systems the whole game,” said Flynn. “We had a real solid effort for all three periods.”
Flynn’s game-opening goal came off an Abbott pass.
“I tried to get a quick shot on net and it went five-hole,” said Flynn.
Hegarty extended the lead by taking a pass from Diamond and beating Rosen with a screened drive from the high slot.
Flynn was the distributor on the Abbott goal.
“[Flynn] won a battle for the puck and got it back to me [in the high slot],” said Abbott. “I made a spin move, went in and put it high blocker-side. The goalie didn’t have his goal stick.”
Shemansky was set up by Kyle Beattie and Brice O’Connor as he beat Rosen from the left circle.
Matt Mangene and Mike Cornell earned assists on Anthoine’s shorthander, which came off a four-on-two rush. Anthoine jammed home a rebound.
Diamond’s 10th goal of the season and fifth on the power play capped a 2-for-7 power-play showing for Maine.
Diamond converted a pass from behind the net by Shemansky.
Maine held the Golden Knights without a power-play goal in seven chances.
Dan Sullivan finished with 18 saves.
“Dan was outstanding tonight,” said Abbott. “We have a lot of confidence in him.”
“He made a few big stops early,” said Flynn.
Flynn and Abbott said the fact Clarkson didn’t have its starting goalie didn’t alter their approach to the game.
“Our game plan didn’t change. Every goalie in college is good,” said Flynn, who noted that the approach was to screen the goalie, get shots on net and battle for rebounds.