PORTLAND, Maine — University of Maine freshman left wing Ryan Lomberg extended his goal- scoring streak to three games and, for the second time in three games, it proved to be the game-winner.
Lomberg’s power-play goal with 6:06 remaining in the third period gave the Black Bears a hard-fought 2-1 win over Atlantic Hockey member Mercyhurst Friday night in front of 4,650 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Maine is now 5-11-2 and extended its winning streak to three games. Mercyhurst had its three-game winning streak snapped and is now 8-7-1.
Maine is 12-0-3 in its last 15 games at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The teams will play again at 7 p.m. Saturday in Orono.
There was little to choose between the teams as Mercyhurst went toe-to-toe with Maine and could have just as easily had loaded the bus headed to Orono with a victory.
“We had opportunities to make it 2-0 or 3-0 but we didn’t capitalize and you can’t let a great team like Maine hang around,” said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin.
Maine goalie Martin Ouellette made 25 saves, including 16 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety while Jordan Tibbett made 35 saves for Mercyhurst with 13 being Grade-A’s.
Lomberg’s game-winner was set up by Mike Cornell and Kyle Beattie.
Cornell carried the puck behind the net and fed it to Beattie in the corner to the right of Tibbett.
“I saw Ryan’s stick and I was able to put the pass under one of their defenseman’s sticks,” said Beattie.
Lomberg was unattended in the middle of the slot and he wristed Beattie’s pass past Tibbett.
“I stopped the puck, the goalie slid over and I had the short side open,” said Lomberg. “Kyle put the pass on my tape. He made a nice play.”
“It was a bang-bang play. He put it to my blocker side,” said Tibbett.
Senior right wing Paul Chiasson staked the Lakers to a 1-0 lead on the power play early in the first period but Maine senior right wing Joey Diamond equalized later in the period.
Ouellette made two terrific saves in the third period that enabled the Bears to pull out the win.
Midway through the third period, he stopped Nick Jones’ shot from the point and then robbed Nardo Nagtzaam off a point-blank rebound.
“I saw the open net and shot it as hard as I could. But he slid over and made a great save with his toe,” said Nagtzaam.
“The first shot went off the inside of my blocker and I was able to get my toe on the rebound,” said Ouellette.
He also prevented the game from going into overtime as he saved Ryan Misiak’s wrister from the edge of the crease at the final buzzer.
“The puck deflected two or three times over to him and I was able to get it with my glove,”
“Marty made some huge saves for us. He won us the game,” said Beattie who felt the team was “tentative” in the first two periods but played well in the third.
“We didn’t play nearly as well as we did in Florida but we got the win,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead referring to Maine’s 1-0 win over Minnesota-Duluth and 6-4 win over Cornell last weekend.
“Joey (Diamond) said it best after the game. He said this would have been a tie or a loss earlier this season,” added Whitehead. “We knew it was going to be a battle that would go down to the final whistle. They’re a good team. They’re fast and well-coached.”
A too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty gave the Lakers a power play just 1:51 into the game and Chiasson scored 1:11 later as the Lakers were able to keep the puck in the Maine zone the entire time.
Jones maneuvered cleverly at the right point and wristed the puck toward the net. Chiasson was parked in the middle of the slot and got his stick on Jones’ wrister, tipping it through Ouellette’s arm..
It was Mercyhurst’s 13th power-play goal over its last 43 chances spanning the last eight-plus games.
Mercyhurst carried the play for the first half of the period until Diamond scored six minutes later off a faceoff win by Steven Swavely in the circle to Tibbett’s right.
Swavely’s diagonal pass was one-timed by Diamond over the glove of Tibbett.
Maine was energized by Diamond’s goal, his third in his last four games, and had the better of the play over the remainder of the period.
Maine’s Jon Swavely hit the far post with a quick wrister from the left circle after circling the net with 2:40 left in the period.
Mercyhurst outshot Maine 11-10 over the first 20 minutes.
Both teams had some glorious chances in the second period but neither was able to score.
Maine outshot Mercyhurst 20-11 in the second period but Mercyhurst had the better scoring chances.
Mercyhurst had a goal disallowed in the second period because the whistle had blown before the puck entered the net.
Ouellette made 14 Grade-A saves through two periods while Tibbett had nine.