ORONO, Maine — The Alfond Arena faithful got their first taste of hockey in the Red Gendron era and the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team turned in a solid performance under its first-year coach in a 5-1 exhibition win Sunday over Dalhousie University of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Black Bears had plenty of jump from the opening whistle and attacked the puck while also finishing their checks.
They built a 3-0 first-period lead on goals by Ryan Lomberg, Andrew Cerretani and Connor Leen.
The Black Bears had their momentum stunted by five consecutive penalties in the scoreless second period but it didn’t cost them as they did an effective job on the penalty kill and Martin Ouellette came up with some timely saves.
Maine, which had also taken the last two penalties of the first period, finally conceded a power- play goal when Chris Iwanko scored on a breakaway off a Jake Rutt turnover 2:48 into the third period but freshman center Cam Brown answered 2:44 later and Steven Swavely added an insurance goal with 5:43 left
Maine outshot Dalhousie 42-18 in front of 4,058 at Alfond Arena.
Dalhousie was playing its third game in three nights, including a 5-0 loss at Northeastern on Saturday night, and was without four of its top six forwards due to injury. The Tigers turned in a hard-working performance.
“We competed hard, we stayed after them,” said Gendron. “Other than taking five straight penalties in the second period, it was good. But we also have a million things to work on. There were plenty of mistakes.
“But the things we worked on all fall: hard work, incredible compete level, attacking the net, getting on people on the forecheck, stealing pucks and counter-attacking… that sort of stuff was there today,” added Gendron.
“We moved our feet the whole game. Our hard work paid off,” said junior left winger Leen. “But we’ve got to be more disciplined.”
Maine took the game’s last nine penalties but held the Tigers to one power-play goal in 11 chances.
“They were fast, they found each other really well and they’re in great shape,” said Dalhousie goalie Bobby Nadeau who turned in an impressive 37-save performance.
“They were really intense going for rebounds,” observed veteran Tiger left wing Francois Gauthier.
Sophomore right wing Lomberg set the tone for the game with a crunching hit on his first shift and a goal just 4:27 into the game.
He carried the puck down the right wing, used a burst of speed to cut around Dalhousie defenseman Wes Herrett and roofed an in-tight wrister into the short-side corner.
“I think (Herrett) thought I was going to dump it in. I thought so, too. But I realized I could blow by him,” said Lomberg. “So I tried taking him wide and I got behind him and cut to the net. I had my head down for the most part and I took a quick glance up. That’s usually my go-to play when I cut in.”
“Usually when they’re in that tight, they shoot it low but he roofed it,” said Nadeau.
Cerretani made it 2-0 3:30 later with freshmen Eric Schurhamer and Brian Morgan assisting.
Morgan fed the puck to the right point to Schurhamer whose quick shot was kicked out by Nadeau. But Cerretani pounced on the loose puck, pulled it around the goalie and deposited it into the vacated net.
Leen also scored on a rebound 4:29 later as Ben Hutton’s point shot deflected to him as he was parked to Nadeau’s right.
“I pulled it to my backhand and had an empty net,” said Leen.
The Black Bears dodged a bullet in the second period when Ouellette tried to pokecheck the puck and it hit a Dalhousie stick and dropped behind him. But defenseman Brice O’Connor dove into the net and swatted it off the goal line.
Dalhousie finally broke through early in the third period when the puck slipped off Rutt’s stick at the offensive blue line and Iwanko had clear sailing.
He took a quick wrister that beat Ouellette to the glove side.
“I knew he was going there but he made a nice shot,” said Ouellette, who turned in a strong 17-save outing.
But the shifty Brown all but sewed up the win thanks to a power move to the net by Will Merchant.
“Will and Jon (Swavely) did all the dirty work. Will took it to the net and made a nice play to me and I shoveled it in,” said Brown.
Steven Swavely capped the scoring off a pretty feed from freshman defenseman Daniel Renouf as he simply redirected Renouf’s diagonal pass past the helpless Nadeau.