PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After a disappointing 1-4 start against non-conference opponents, the University of Maine men’s hockey team was hoping the start of their Hockey East schedule would serve as an elixir.
But the Providence College Friars didn’t oblige.
Early third-period goals 2:07 apart by sophomore right wing Drew Brown and freshman left wing Steven McParland broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Friars a 3-2 victory over the Black Bears Friday night.
Mike Cornell cut into the lead with 11:22 remaining but the Bears couldn’t draw level and force overtime.
Providence improved to 2-2-1 overall, 1-1 in Hockey East.
Maine is 1-5 and 0-1 and has lost three straight.
The teams will play again Saturday night.
Brown scored 2:56 into the final period when he deflected Myles Harvey’s high wrister from the left point behind Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, who was making his first start of the season thanks to his career 3-0 record against the Friars.
“Noel [Acciari] tipped it first. He was in front of me. I was standing off to the side and then it deflected off my stick and between [Ouellette’s] legs,” said Brown
The goal was reviewed and the goal was upheld.
Ouellette thought it was tipped with a high stick, saying “I had my glove up in the air [following the path of the puck].”
Harvey and Brown were involved in McParland’s first career goal as Harvey carried the puck down the left wing in a three-on-two and slipped a short pass to the nearby Brown. Brown’s wrist shot was kicked out by the left pad of Ouellette but McParland was unattended in the right circle and swept the rebound into the exposed net.
“The rebound went right on [McParland’s] tape,” said Ouellette.
“Their third goal turned the momentum,” said Cornell who sliced into the lead with a wrist shot from the left point through a posse of legs.
But the Bears couldn’t get the equalizer.
Cornell said the Bears worked hard but noted that they’ve got to do a better job getting pucks to the net, especially from the point.
Brown said the Friars wanted to test Ouellette.
“We wanted to get pucks to the net because we knew they had a young goalie,” said Brown.
PC freshman goalie Jon Gillies of South Portland finished with 27 saves while Ouellette made 24 stops.
Gillies made 10 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops and Ouellette had seven.
Sophomore right wing Connor Leen supplied the Black Bears with their first power-play goal of the season on their 27th attempt 8:24 into the evenly-played first period but freshman defenseman John Gilmour equalized with the man-advantage at the 18:06 mark.
Each team had 13 shots on goal in the period.
Leen scored off a rebound.
Following a faceoff win, Maine’s Stu Higgins slid the puck back to the left point where Ben Hutton one-timed a wrister through traffic.
Gillies made the save but spilled a rebound and the alert Leen cut left to right across the top of the crease and stuffed the rebound between Gillies’ pads.
It was the first time Maine scored a game-opening goal since the opener against Quinnipiac College.
The Friars also scored off a faceoff as Tim Schaller got the puck back to Gilmour on the left point and his rising slap shot beat Ouellette to the short side past his blocker.
There were a number of near-misses in the scoreless second period, including a scramble in front of the Providence net that saw Gillies make a nifty reaction save off Leen from point-blank range.
The penalty-killers for each team excelled as each team had three power-play opportunities in the period.
“The effort was there and we competed hard. But again we didn’t get the result we wanted,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “(After Cornell’s goal) we had plenty of time to tie it but they blocked shots and did a nice job protecting their net. I thought our freshmen played well.”
Providence coach Nate Leaman called it a “sloppy game.
“We were fighting the puck. It looked like there were a lot of freshmen out there. [Gillies] got us the win,” said Leaman.
Providence had eight freshmen and Maine had six.
“We were sloppy in the first two periods but we executed in the third period,” said Providence junior right wing Derek Army. “We got pucks out of our zone and we had some key blocks.”