LOWELL, Mass. — It was a memorable night at the Tsongas Center for the University of Maine men’s hockey team in its 3-0 win over UMass Lowell on Saturday.
Freshman goalie Dan Sullivan made 28 saves to become the first Black Bear goalie to post back-to-back shutouts since Jimmy Howard blanked UMass Lowell (4-0) and Boston College (3-0) on Feb. 28 and March 5, 2004 and Tanner House (3 assists) and Brian Flynn (1 assist) each reached the 100-point mark for their careers.
More importantly, the Black Bears (14-10-6, 11-8-4 HE) extended their winning streak to three games, their longest since they won three in a row in October (two against North Dakota and one over Vermont).
UMass Lowell (4-24-2, 3-20-0 AE) has lost five straight.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had back-to-back shutouts,” said Sullivan. “It’s a great feeling. But it was a great team effort. The team thought ‘defense first’ both nights and made it a lot easier for me.”
“(Sullivan) played very well. We couldn’t get anything past him. We got some shots on him but he covered up everything,” said UMass Lowell junior left wing David Vallorani, who had a game-high seven shots on goal and felt his team turned in a better performance than Friday.
“He really controlled his rebounds well and when we got sloppy, he stepped up and made some big saves,” said Maine junior right wing Gustav Nyquist, who had a pair of goals to give him nine in his last six games.
Sullivan made 12 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 28 for the game.
“He played amazing,” said Maine sophomore right wing Joey Diamond.
Nyquist opened the scoring 8:38 into the first period and Diamond extended the lead 6:23 later.
Nyquist added a shorthanded goal in the second period.
Flynn picked up his 100th career point on Nyquist’s first-period goal as he corralled a loose puck near the offensive blue line and threaded a pass to Nyquist, who had circled a defenseman and accepted the pass in full stride while cutting left to right across the low slot.
“(Flynn) made a great pass. I faked backhand because I wanted the goalie (Doug Carr) to think I was going to pull the puck across (the slot) and then I went to my forehand and put it low blocker (to the short side),” said Nyquist.
Diamond scored off a nice give-and-go with House during a four-on-four.
“Jeff Dimmen made a great play in the corner chipping the puck up to Tanner and he gave it to me in the neutral zone,” said Diamond. “I gave it back to him and drove to the net. (Will O’Neill) was coming down the far side and that gave me a little more of an opening. Tanner slid it across and I tipped it in.”
Diamond’s re-direction beat Carr to the far post.
“Joey drove the net like he always does. He’s pretty good at it,” grinned House.
House’s assist was his 100th career point.
Sullivan was tested severely in the second period but stopped all 15 shots he faced including six Grade-A’s.
Nyquist collected his shorthanded goal against the run of play at the 9:31 mark.
House and Nyquist worked a faceoff play in the defensive zone as House pushed the puck ahead directly off the faceoff and Nyquist raced on to it and broke around a defenseman to generate a breakaway.
“I was struggling a little on faceoffs so I figured why not go for it,” said House.
“You can catch a defenseman off-guard,” said Nyquist, who cut in on Carr and made a few head fakes before sliding his backhander home.
“I went five-hole with it,” said Nyquist.
Just moments later, Sullivan was forced to make his best save when UMass Lowell captain Scott Campbell took the puck to the front of the net.
“I tried to stuff it five-hole but he had his paddle down,” said Campbell. “I was waiting for the puck to bounce back to me but it bounced behind me and I couldn’t reach it. It was a nice save by him.
“He played hard and their team played hard in front of him,” said Campbell. “Give Maine a lot of credit.”
“Our defensemen were able to box out and get between their shooters and me,” said Sullivan. “And they cleared our rebounds.”
Freshman Carr played well in defeat, finishing with 35 saves including 10 Grade-A’s.
Maine killed off all six UML power plays. The Bears went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Black Bears will play their final home series of the regular season next weekend when surging Merrimack College, 21-5-4 and winner of eight straight, invades Alfond Arena for a pair.