ORONO, Maine — The nation’s best power play came through again for the University of Maine Saturday night, but it wasn’t the only reason for the 6-3 men’s hockey triumph over New Hampshire.
Maine scored three even-strength goals and an empty-netter to go with two power- play goals as the Bears finished off their first sweep of UNH since Jan. 30-31, 2004.
Linemates Theo Andersson and Joey Diamond scored the go-ahead and game-winning goals, respectively, as Maine erased a 2-0 deficit for the second straight night in front of 5,161 at a raucous Alfond Arena.
Maine had rallied past UNH 3-2 on Friday night.
“This showed a lot about our character,” said sophomore left wing Brian Flynn, whose power-play goal 6:46 into the second period jumpstarted the comeback before he scored the clinching goal on a breakaway with 1:38 remaining in the third period. “We didn’t have our best game tonight, but we showed we had a lot of heart and will, and we were able to pull this one out.”
Maine improved to 14-9-3 overall, 11-6-2 in Hockey East. Maine is tied for second with Boston College, three points behind league leader New Hampshire, which is 12-5-3 in the league and 13-10-4 overall.
Maine has won its last six games at Alfond Arena.
“We felt this was a big opportunity to make a statement. We wanted to let everyone know we’re back and excited to be back,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
First-period goals by John Henrion and Peter LeBlanc gave UNH its 2-0 lead before Flynn and Robby Dee tied it with goals 57 seconds apart in the second period. Andersson broke the tie with just 1:31 remaining in the period.
Diamond’s power-play goal 4:36 into the third period extended the lead to 4-2 before Phil DeSimone got one back for UNH at the 9:19 mark.
Flynn’s breakaway iced it and Tanner House added an empty-net goal.
Flynn’s scored his first goal from behind the net.
“[Adam Shemansky] tied a guy up in the corner and I came out of the corner with the puck and tried to sneak one in on the short side but [UNH goalie Brian Foster] hugged the post. I got it behind the goal and banked it in off [Foster’s] back. He had come off the post a little bit, so I gave it a shot,” said Flynn.
“That was an awkward one,” said Foster, whose 34 saves included a startling 23 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops.
“That goal set the tone for us. We knew we could score,” said Diamond.
Dee drew the Bears level when he spun off a check at the base of the left circle and roofed a Jeff Dimmen rebound into the short-side corner.
“He made a good shot over my blocker,” said Foster.
It was Dee’s fifth goal in five games. Friday night, he returned from a broken foot that had sidelined him for four games and had the game-winner.
“That goal took the wind out of our sails. We just gave the game away,” said UNH senior right wing and co-captain Bobby Butler.
Andersson scored from a bad angle as he came out of the corner to Foster’s left and squeezed the puck through Foster’s legs.
“I just ripped it and, luckily, it went in,” said Andersson.
“I should have had that one. That was a huge turning point for them,” said Foster.
Diamond, who had generated scoring chances with his tenacity all weekend, was finally rewarded.
“As long as I kept getting chances, I knew one would eventually go in,” said Diamond. “Dimmen made a nice shot [from the point] and it tipped off my stick and bounced over [to my left]. I went around Foster and put it in.”
DeSimone extended his points streak to nine games as he wheeled around after having a wrist shot blocked and slid a backhander inside the far post.
But Gustav Nyquist, who returned in the third period after leaving the ice late in the second with a lower back ailment, set up Flynn’s breakaway with a flip out of the defensive zone.
Flynn poked it past a UNH defenseman and fired a wrister through Foster’s legs.
“I faked a shot, went backhand-to-forehand and that opened up the five-hole a little bit,” said Flynn.
“He made a pretty good move and I hesitated a little bit,” said Foster.
Maine’s Scott Darling made 27 stops, including 12 Grade-As.
“The guys played great in front of me. I didn’t have my best game but we won,” said Darling.