ORONO, Maine — The St. Lawrence University Saints turned in an impressive and thorough performance Friday night and dealt the University of Maine men’s hockey team a resounding 5-0 setback at Alfond Arena.
Riley Austin’s first-period goal and second-period goals by Chris Martin and Patrick Doherty gave the Saints a 3-0 lead after two periods before the Saints iced the win with third-period goals from Gunnar Hughes and Justin Baker.
“We embarrassed ourselves,” said Maine senior right wing and tri-captain Joey Diamond. “Our fans don’t deserve that. We played hard for three minutes.
“St. Lawrence did all the little things. They played hard, they got pucks to the net. They kept it simple. They’re a good team,” said Diamond.
The teams will play again Saturday night at 7.
St. Lawrence is now 2-1 while Maine fell to 1-3, including two shutout losses.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead called it a “disappointing game from start to finish.
“They outplayed us in every facet of the game,” said Whitehead. “That first goal seemed to deflate us.”
Maine lost senior center Kyle Beattie after the first period. He had returned to the lineup after suffering a mild concussion in the 1-0 loss to Notre Dame last Friday.
Whitehead wouldn’t comment on the injury and said he wouldn’t decide on a starting goaltender until Saturday.
The Saints were better in all three zones and Matt Weninger made 30 saves in posting the shutout although he rarely had to make more than one save at a time or fight through traffic as his teammates did an exceptional job clearing the net front. Weninger had 15 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves and played his angles extremely well.
“It was a pretty good game for us,” said Saints coach Greg Carvel. “I thought we did a nice job possessing the puck in the offensive zone. We hounded the puck and made it hard on their defense. We used our size to our advantage in the defensive zone. We were able to protect the net front.”
Martin scored on the power play and Doherty converted while the Saints were shorthanded.
Baker’s goal also came on the power play as St. Lawrence went 2-for-9 with the man-advantage while Maine went 0-for-9 and is now 0-for-21 on the season.
Saints senior center and captain Kyle Flanagan, who had three assists and a number of important backchecks and clearances to key the penalty killing, said they have focused on improving their penalty kill “so it’s up with our power play [success].”
The Saints won most of the 50-50 battles for the puck, had much more sustained pressure in the offensive zone and pressured the Black Bears into turning the puck over.
Maine’s passing was poor and that resulted in helter-skelter play.
St. Lawrence showed no ill effects from Thursday’s 11-hour bus trip from Canton, N.Y., to Orono.
The Saints controlled the first period the first period and Austin provided them with a well-deserved lead at the 7:48 mark.
Austin took a pass from Greg Carey and took a shot from the left point that was blocked by Maine freshman right wing Ryan Lomberg.
The puck came right back to Austin and his snap shot deflected off Maine defenseman Mike Cornell and past Maine goalie Dan Sullivan at the near post.
“I didn’t see what the puck hit. It rattled around,” said Sullivan.
St. Lawrence extended the lead 1:08 into the second period when Kyle Flanagan won a multi-player puck battle along the right-wing boards and skated across the middle of the slot.
Martin broke for the net and Flanagan alertly slid it back to him in the right wing circle and Martin one-timed a perfectly-placed wrister over Sullivan’s glove hand and into the short side corner.
“I just tried to get the puck up,” said Martin. .
Maine had a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half when Diamond carried the puck into the St. Lawrence zone along the left wing side on a three-on-one.
Diamond had Steven Swavely unattended at the far post and an equally-open Devin Shore trailing the play and he dropped it to Shore, whose one-timer was saved by Weninger.
Moments later, Flanagan and Doherty broke in shorthanded and worked a nifty give and go with Doherty wristing it between the pads of Sullivan from the right circle.
“Their defenseman took me so I slid it over to [Doherty],” said Flanagan
“I’d like to have that one back,” said Sullivan.
Carvel thought that goal was pivotal.
“It was a back-breaker,” said Carvel.
Gunnar Hughes scored when his centering pass deflected off a Maine skate into the net and Baker scored with a shot from the right circle.
Sullivan was replaced by freshman Matt Morris after the fifth goal with 12:20 remaining.
Sullivan finished with 17 saves (eight Grade-A’s) while Morris made one and it was a Grade-A stop.