ORONO, Maine — It had worked once before. And it worked again.
University of Maine sophomores Devin Shore and Ben Hutton teamed up for a five-on-three goal that replicated the one they had scored in an overtime win over UMass on Oct. 25 and this one proved to be a game-winner as Maine’s men’s hockey team beat Vermont 2-0 at Alfond Arena Friday night.
Hutton scored off the Shore feed with 4:44 remaining and sophomore center Steven Swavely added a power-play goal off a three-on-one 2:56 later to seal the win.
Senior goalie Martin Ouellette made 23 saves, including 12 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety to collect his fourth career shutout.
Maine is now 4-3-1 overall, 1-1-1 in Hockey East, while Vermont fell to 2-3-1 and 1-2-0. The teams will play again Saturday night at 7.
Caylen Wells was assessed a holding penalty with 6:06 left and Connor Brickley took a five-minute major for hitting from behind 1:09 later, giving the Black Bears a two-man advantage for 51 seconds.
Shore stickhandled between the faceoff dots before sliding a pass back to the near post where Hutton one-timed the puck into the upper short-side corner past Brody Hoffman.
“The goalie has to play Devin. I skated across and Devin passed it to me,” said Hutton. “I wanted to go short-side high because I thought the goalie would be sliding across.”
“I have the opportunity to make a decision in that situation. I have some different options, I was going to get it across to Brice O’Connor but there was a stick in the passing lane so I got it to Ben,” explained Shore.
Swavely cemented the victory by winning a puck near the defensive blue line and carrying the puck down the ice on the three-on-one.
He took a rising snap shot from the edge of the left faceoff circle and it beat Hoffman to the glove side.
“That was a pro shot. He put it over the pad and under the glove,” said Maine coach Red Gendron.
Hoffman finished with 36 saves in his season debut, including 18 Grade-As. He missed the first five games with a shoulder injury.
“It was a big win. It was our first Hockey East win. We wanted to get points in the league,” said Gendron. “We got the five-on-three and the guys made a play and scored a nice goal.
“I thought the guys worked their tails off and when they do that and you get good goaltending, you put yourself in position to win. And (Ouellette) came up with some spectacular saves,” said Gendron.
Ouellette enabled the Black Bears to enter the first intermission deadlocked with several nice saves.
Maine outshot Vermont 10-9 but the Catamounts had the better chances.
Brickley set up Chris McCarthy for an open shot from the edge of the right faceoff circle but Ouellette was able to get his left shoulder on it. Ouellette came up with an important save on Jake Fallon, also.
Ouellette finished with six Grade-A saves in the period while Hoffman had four.
The Black Bears outshot Vermont 17-7 in the middle period but didn’t transfer that edge into a goal as Hoffman came up with some nice stops and his mates protected the net front.
Ouellette came up with a huge save early in the third period when Brendan Bradley fed Mario Puskarich for a one-timer from the low slot.
“I saw the pass and figured there was a guy there. So I tried to make myself big and I got my left pad on it,” said Ouellette.
“Marty has been amazing. He gives us a chance to win every night,” said Shore.
Maine had the better of the play in the third period but couldn’t put one past Hoffman until the five-on-three.
“I don’t think we played very well,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “We weren’t willing to pay the price and we took two terrible penalties in the third period. The better team won tonight.”
Gendron praised Hutton, who logged a ton of minutes and had three clearances on a Vermont power play in the third period.
“He is very, very good offensively and defensively,” said Gendron.
Gendron felt Swavely and linemates Mark Anthoine and Andrew Cerretani did an effective job covering UVM’s top line of Fallon, McCarthy and Brickley. Cerretani suffered an apparent head injury in the third period and missed the rest of the game.