DURHAM, N.H. — The University of Maine’s dismal offensive production on the road reared its ugly head yet again, and the University of New Hampshire kept the Black Bears winless at opposing rinks Friday night.
The Wildcats used a second-period goal by Eric Knodel and Jay Camper’s third-period goal to beat the Black Bears 3-2 at the Whittemore Center.
Casey DeSmith made 32 saves to post the win, while Martin Ouellette wound up with 24 saves for Maine.
UNH’s Nick Sorkin and Maine’s Will Merchant swapped goals just 2:56 into the game, but senior defenseman Knodel’s goal at the 7:23 mark of the second period broke the 1-1 tie and gave the Wildcats a lead they would never relinquish.
Camper scored 2:22 into the third period.
Maine’s Mark Anthoine scored with the extra attacker with 54.7 seconds left as he jammed the puck behind DeSmith from the edge of the crease. But Maine couldn’t get the equalizer.
UNH is now 14-12-1 overall, 6-5 in Hockey East, while the Black Bears fell to 11-9-3 and 5-4-2, respectively.
The two teams will play again at 7 p.m. Saturday, at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena in Orono.
Maine is now 0-8-2 on the road and with only 15 goals scored
Maine had 50 shot attempts to UNH’s 24 through the first two periods, but Maine missed the net 20 times and had eight more shots blocked.
Maine finished with a 72-42 advantage in shots attempted but missed the net 23 times and had 16 more blocked by Wildcats.
“[Missing the net] was addressed. Maybe if we had hit the net 10 more times we would have won,” said Maine coach Red Gendron. “That is a function of execution and we didn’t execute. We did a lot of good things but we didn’t play well enough to win. ”
“We were trying to be too fine,” said Maine junior defenseman Jake Rutt. “To score on the road, you’ve got to get to those dirty areas [in front of the net].”
Maine outshot UNH 16-6 in the first period but could manage just the one goal.
Knodel’s sixth goal of the season came against the run of play.
Knodel took a pass from Brett Pesce at the midpoint and took a slap shot that beat Ouellette to the glove side.
There was no screen and Ouellette appeared to get caught deep in his crease and was off his angle.
Gendron wouldn’t comment on the goal and said Ouellette played “OK.”
Gendron said Maine had a player in position to block Knodel’s shot but he didn’t drop down and block the shot.
Camper’s first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as he drove to the net and finished off a pretty passing sequence in a three-on-two.
Tyler Kelleher fed it to him from the right wing, and he directed it past Ouellette from the edge of the crease.
Senior left wing Sorkin wasted little time bringing the sold-out crowd to its feet, supplying the Wildcats with a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game.
But Maine sophomore left wing Merchant answered Sorkin’s 14th goal of the season with his first 1:59 later.
Sorkin was set up by Matt Willows, who intercepted a Ben Hutton pass at the blue line and directed it to Sorkin.
Sorkin broke in on a two-on-one with Kevin Goumas, used Goumas as a decoy and patiently stickhandled into a good shooting position before slipping the puck inside the far post past Ouellette, who had tried to move across with him.
Merchant answered when Josh Henke’s wrist shot hit a skate in front and deflected to him in the high slot. Merchant’s 30-foot wrist shot through a maze of players beat DeSmith to the glove side.
UNH coach Dick Umile was pleased with the win.
“It was everything we thought it was going to be. It was a typical Maine-UNH game,” said Umile. “We started slow in the first period but we played better beginning in the second period. It was an important win.
“Kyle Smith suffered a concussion in the second period and [Camper] filled in for him and scored a beautiful goal,” said Umile.
UNH was already without injured All-American defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and center Grayson Downing, two of their top two scorers, while Maine was minus first-line right wing Steven Swavely and center Stu Higgins.