The surging University of Maine men’s hockey team continued to thrive on the road Friday evening.
Senior left wing Nolan Vesey scored two goals in the game’s first 3 minutes, 13 seconds and linemate Tim Doherty extended his goal-scoring streak to four games by collecting the game-winner as the Black Bears beat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 3-2 at the Houston Field House in Troy, New York.
Junior Rob McGovern, getting the start in place of Jeremy Swayman, who is playing for Team USA in the World Junior Championships, finished with 27 saves including a pad stop off Jared Wilson’s shot from the midpoint with one second left.
It was Maine’s fourth straight win overall and fourth in a row on the road (4-1).
UMaine (9-7-1) is unbeaten in its last six games (5-0-1). RPI (3-12-3) suffered its third straight loss and eighth in its last nine games.
Billy Jerry scored a first-period goal for RPI and Evan Tironese pulled RPI within 3-2 with 5:09 left in the third period. Freshman Linden Marshall made 32 saves.
The teams complete their series on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The line of Vesey, center Doherty and right wing Patrick Shea combined for four assists along with all three goals.
Vesey tied a career high with three points (2 goals, 1 assist), Doherty had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to six games (5 goals, 4 assists) and fellow sophomore Shea had two assists.
Vesey opened the scoring just 1:02 into the game when he intercepted an RPI pass, slipped the puck to Shea and converted a Shea return pass with a rising wrister from the top of the left circle.
Just 2:11 later, Vesey notched his fourth goal in four games. Doherty protected the puck along the wall and flipped it across to Shea, who tipped it into the offensive zone. Vesey raced onto it after it hopped over the stick of an RPI defenseman and beat Marshall to his blocker side.
“That was a great play by (Doherty) on the boards and I got a lucky bounce,” said Vesey.
“It was good to get off on the right foot like that,” added Vesey. “Any time you can score a couple of quick ones, it gives you a good chance to win.”
“It’s a lot easier to play from in front than from behind,” said UMaine head coach Red Gendron.
RPI began carrying the play and was rewarded when Jerry’s deflection trickled over the goal line.
Doherty restored the two-goal lead 8:01 into the second period when he took a Vesey pass in the high slot, cut to the center and beat Marshall with a high shot.
Tironese converted a one-timer on the power play off a one-touch pass by Wilson but Jacob Hayhurst hit the short-side post with five minutes remaining and the Black Bears held on.
Gendron said McGovern, who was making his first start since Nov. 18, played a great game.
“He didn’t see the puck for a long time because we had the puck at the other end but when we needed him, he came up with the big saves,” said Gendron.
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