ESTERO, Fla. — Junior right wing Matt Mangene’s power-play goal with 7:44 left in the third period, the University of Maine’s third of the evening, gave Black Bears some valuable breathing room and they went on to claim their fifth championship in the 12 years of the Florida College Classic by virtue of a 5-2 win over Hockey East rival Massachusetts at the Germain Arena Friday night.
Joey Diamond and Brian Flynn staked Maine to a 2-0 lead in the first period and, after T.J. Syner drew UMass within one at the 7:36 mark of the the second period, Mark Anthoine answered 2:01 later with his fifth power-play goal of the season.
Conor Allen scored 8:35 into the third period to again cut the lead to one but Mangene restored the two-goal lead and Flynn scored into an empty net to ice it.
Maine senior left wing Spencer Abbott had three assists and earned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award for Maine (8-7-2), which won its fifth game in six tries.
He made the cross-ice pass that led to Mangene’s crucial goal.
“I saw Matt out of the corner of my eye. I decided before I got the puck, I was going to get it over to him,” said Abbott. “I got lucky. The pass went between one of their guys’ legs to Matt’s stick and he did the rest.”
“(Abbott) threaded the needle. I caught it and put it over (UMass goalie Kevin Boyle’s) shoulder on the glove side,” said Mangene.
“That was a big goal,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who added Mangene released the shot quickly and had plenty on it as it sailed right under the crossbar before Boyle could snare it with his glove.
UMass slipped to 6-8-4.
Joining Abbott on the All-Tournament team were teammates Flynn, defenseman Will O’Neill and goalie Dan Sullivan.
“It was a good win,” said Flynn. “We played well, especially in the first period. They responded well in the second period but we were able to keep attacking.
“We won the special teams battle (3-0) and that was huge. When you do that, you give yourself a good chance to win,” added Flynn.
Maine went 3-for-7 on the power play and killed off all five of UMass’ power plays including a five-minute disadvantage in the second period courtesy of a Brice O’Connor hitting-from-behind major. Mangene picked up a tripping penalty with 37 seconds remaining in the five-minute power play but the Bears killed off the two-man disadvantage and the rest of Mangene’s penalty.
“It was a great team effort,” said Mangene. “We had to use some guys who don’t normally kill penalties but they stepped up and did the job. It was great to see.”
Diamond opened the scoring on a three-on-two when he was set up by Abbott and Mike Cornell. Cornell broke up a two-on-one and passed to Abbott who eventually fed Diamond for a one-timer from the high slot.
Flynn scored on the power play off an Abbott feed.
“Spencer cut through the middle and the goalie followed him,” said Flynn. “He threw it back to me and I beat (Boyle) with a one-timer.”
Danny Hobbs and Branden Gracel teamed up to set up Syner’s goal but Anthoine one-timed an Adam Shemansky pass from behind the net to make it 3-1.
Allen scored against the run of play with Conor Sheary and Steven Guzzo picking up assists but Gracel took a high-sticking penalty just 37 seconds later and, eight seconds after he came out of the box, he took a charging penalty and that led to Mangene’s goal.
Mangene had an assist to go with his goal and Cornell and O’Neill had two assists apiece.
Sullivan finished with 17 saves as Maine outshot UMass 32-19.
Boyle made 27 stops including several gems in the first period to keep his team close when they were outshot 14-1.
Whitehead was pleased with the performance.
“The special teams were the difference,” said Whitehead. “We played well defensively and Sullivan was solid.”
“(Sullivan) has been the backbone of our team,” said Abbott.
Abbott said he was honored to be named the MVP.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s my senior year and I’ll never play in this tournament again. It’s very special,” said Abbott.
Maine will return to action on Wednesday night when the Black Bears resume Hockey East play with a game against Vermont at the Alfond Arena. Game time is 7.
Cornell beat Clarkson 5-3 in the consolation game.