PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence College coach Nate Leaman wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall performance in Friday night’s victory over the University of Maine and his players got the message.
The Friars established their dominance from the opening faceoff, scoring just 1:27 into the game and never looking back en route to a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Black Bears.
Maine fell to 1-6 overall, which marks the worst start since the 1985-86 team went 1-11-1 to start the season.
Maine, which has been shut out three times and held to one goal on two other occasions, is 0-2 in Hockey East play.
“There’s not much to say,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “The better team won. I was disappointed with the result. We had our chances and didn’t capitalize. They did. We’ll be skating hard on Monday. We have a lot of work and a lot of recruiting to do.”
He also said he was perturbed by Maine’s four second-period penalties that gave the Friars chances to extend the lead and Kevin Hart made them pay.
“We came out in the second period juiced up and we tried to knock their heads off instead of chipping away at the lead,” said Whitehead.
Sophomore center Ross Mauermann scored the game-opening goal and sophomore right wing Shane Luke extended the lead 9:56 later.
Cumberland’s Hart, a junior defenseman, made it 3-0 on the power play at the 8:04 mark of the second period and that was it..
South Portland’s Jon Gillies made 26 saves in posting the shutout while Maine junior Dan Sullivan tied his career-high by making 39 stops.
Sullivan was forced to make 20 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves while Gillies had to make just 10.
Providence attempted 65 shots to Maine’s 42 and had 31 Grade-A scoring attempts to Maine’s 16.
Providence is now 3-2-1 overall, 2-1 in Hockey East,
The Friars used a relentless forecheck and effective physical play to keep the Bears pinned in their defensive zone for the vast majority of the first two periods
“We played a complete game tonight,” said Mauermann. “We wanted to come out and jump all over them in the first five minutes.”
“The guys moved their feet tonight and had a lot more poise with the puck,” said Leaman. “They settled down and made plays instead of just throwing the puck around like they did [Friday] night.”
The Friars did a nice job protecting the lead in the third period, blocking several shots and limiting the desperate Bears’ second- and third-chance opportunities.
Providence had 10 Grade-A scoring attempts in the first period to Maine’s three in building a 2-0 lead..
Mauermann scored off a three-on-two as he took a short pass in full stride from Steven Shamanski and wristed a 20-footer over Sullivan’s glove into the far corner from the left circle.
“It was a nice pass by [Shamanski] and I just tried to get a quick shot off,” said Mauermann.
Luke took a John Gilmour pass in the neutral zone and moved down the left wing in a one-on-one with Maine defenseman Brice O’Connor.
Luke put on a burst after absorbing a bump from O’Connor and he busted around O’Connor before beating Sullivan blocker side by roofing a wrister into the near-side corner from 14 feet out.
Luke said gave a “look-off” to the far post as if he was going to pass it to try to catch Sullivan cheating over.
“I was off my angle,” said Sullivan.
O’Connor said he “misjudged” Luke’s speed and should have played the body on him more thoroughly to take him out of the play.
The Friars, who outshot Maine 14-8 in the first period, generated 17 second-period shots to Maine’s eight and Sullivan was the only reason the deficit wasn’t worse than 3-0.
Hart converted a cross-ice pass from Luke into his goal.
Hart found a lot of open real estate on the weak side, closed from the right point to the right faceoff dot and one-timed Luke’s pass under the crossbar into the short side corner past the helpless Sullivan.
PC went one-for-seven on the power play on the evening while Maine went 0-for-6 and is now 1-for-36 with the man advantage on the year.
“We needed to come out with a better effort tonight, myself included,” said Sullivan.
Leaman said he was thankful his Friars were able to score an early goal especially in light of Sullivan’s performance.
“It was nice to get a lead because he was so good tonight,” said Leaman.