ORONO, Maine – After giving up the first goal of the game, the University of Maine men’s hockey team responded with two goals in each period to down the University of Vermont, 6-2, in a Hockey East contest on Saturday night at Alfond Arena.
Five different players found the back of the net for the Black Bears while Jeremy Swayman finished with 39 saves. Patrick Holway notched three points on one goal and two assists, Mitchell Fossier had a career-high three assists and Nolan Vesey potted two goals. Chase Pearson added two points on one goal and one assist.
The Catamounts (4-10-2, 1-6-2 HEA) took advantage of an early power-play opportunity to take a 1-0 lead on a Brian Bowen goal at 4:19 of the first period. The Black Bears (6-7-1, 4-4-1 HEA), though, took just three minutes to answer with a power-play goal of their own after Fossier fed Rob Michel for a shot at the right dot and Pearson tipped it inside the left post. Another Black Bear power-play goal from Maine in the form of Tim Doherty’s fourth of the year – coming when he stuffed the puck past Stefanos Lekkas – sent Maine into the first break up, 2-1.
Just over three minutes into the second period, Brady Keeper had a shot blocked but Brendan Robbins corralled the puck and wristed it in from the right circle for what would stand to be the game-winning goal.
Vermont responded near the midway point of the game, with Craig Puffer capitalizing on the man-advantage, but Jeremy Swayman and the Black Bears defense was lights out the rest of the way. Swayman made at least 10 saves in each period – making 20 alone in the second – to keep the lead in Maine’s favor while the team finished with 16 blocked shots, including four from Keith Muehlbauer.
Just as the defense was doing its job, the Black Bears offense wasn’t done with scoring either. With two minutes to go in the middle frame, Holway broke the puck out of the Maine zone and into the Vermont zone where he fed Fossier for a one-time bid at the right dot. Fossier wasn’t able to fully connect with it, but the puck eventually found its way to Vesey near the hashmarks. Vesey circled around the zone and neared the blue-line before turning and wristing a laser through traffic and into the top right corner of the net.
It would be Vesey that scored Maine’s next goal, too. From the corner to the left of Lekkas, Fossier slid the puck back through his legs to Pearson at the bottom of the circle and then Pearson zipped it across the crease to Vesey for a finish at the left post.
With Maine whistled for a penalty with 2:10 to play and Lekkas on the bench, the Black Bears faced a 6-on-4 but withstood the pressure and Holway’s empty-net tally with 21 seconds to play gave the game its final 6-2 score.
Swayman (5-3-1) finished with 39 saves to 28 for Lekkas (4-10-2) while Vermont held the final edge in shots on goal (41-34). Maine was 40-27 at the face-off dot, with Cedric Lacroix going 10-for-12 and Pearson 16-for-28.
The Black Bears will close out the fall semester with some non-conference action next weekend when they travel to Hamden, Conn., to take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Friday, Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9.