ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey team wanted to establish itself early against a struggling American International College team that entered Friday night’s game with a seven-game losing streak.
That’s exactly what the Black Bears did.
Sophomore right wing Steven Swavely and freshmen defensemen Daniel Renouf and Eric Schurhamer scored first-period goals and the Black Bears cruised to a convincing 7-1 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Devin Shore and AIC’s Dan Clairmont swapped second-period goals before Connor Leen, Mark Anthoine and Stu Higgins added third-period goals.
“I thought we played hard for the entire game,” said Maine coach Red Gendron. “We’re putting more pucks on net now.”
Gendron explained that his players are doing a better job recognizing when to try to make a play and when to just get the puck to the net because a play isn’t available.
Maine improved to 8-6-1 overall while AIC fell to 3-11. Maine is 8-1 at Alfond Arena and has scored 26 goals in its last five home games.
Maine put 59 shots on AIC goalies Hunter Leisner (48 saves, 7 goals) and Ryan Kerpan (4 saves, no goals) while Martin Ouellette finished with 20 saves for Maine.
The teams will conclude their series at 7 p.m. Saturday.
It was a homecoming for former Black Bear assistant and AIC head coach Gary Wright (1979-84) but the Black Bears didn’t prove to be gracious hosts.
The Black Bears dominated every aspect of the game, hounding the puck with tireless tenacity and giving the Yellow Jackets very little time and space with it,
Sophomore center Shore and linemates Steven Swavely and Leen combined for three goals and eight assists as Shore had a goal and four assists for a career-high five-point game in extending his points streak to six games (6 goals, 7 assists). Junior left wing Leen had three assists to go with his goal and sophomore right wing Swavely had an assist to accompany his goal.
“We feel we can play with any line,” said Swavely.
“We wanted to get off to a good start and we wanted to keep the intensity up. We played well tonight,” said Shore.
Swavely, Renouf and Schurhamer scored in a span of 10:21 to create the 3-0 lead.
Shore assisted on all three.
Swavely opened the scoring at the 8:01 mark.
Swavely and Leen were positioned just outside the crease to the right of Leisner and Shore’s pass out from behind the net wound up on the stick of Swavely.
“I think (Leen) took a shot that came off the goalie’s pad to me. I just put the puck upstairs,” said Swavely, who beat Leisner to the short side.
Renouf extended the lead at the 15:03 mark with his first goal when he closed took a pass from Shore and fired a snap shot through a forest of legs that sailed over Leisner’s left pad.
“I skated across the blue line and saw a shooting lane. It went over [Leisner’s] pad and under his glove,” said Renouf.
“We wanted to get a ton of shots and dictate the pace of the game,” added Renouf.
Shore again served as the provider on Schurhamer’s goal.
Shore had made a clever move around a defenseman but he missed the net with a backhander before chasing down the puck behind the net and sliding into the middle of the slot. Schurhamer collected the puck and beat Leisner with a 25-foot wrist shot.
Maine outshot AIC 24-5 in the first period.
Shore expanded the lead while shorthanded at the 6:46 mark of the second period.
The puck rolled in on Leisner and he was indecisive. He wasn’t sure whether to cover the puck up or move it to one of his teammates and, in the process, he lost control of the puck.
Shore simply maneuvered the puck over to his backhand and flipped it into the half-empty net.
“I think he wanted to cover it but I wasn’t close enough to him so I think the referee wanted him to play it,” said Shore. “It was that kind of night. The bounces went our way.”
Freshman Clairmont gave the Yellow Jackets a lifeline by sweeping home a rebound. Chris Porter and Brandon Fagerheim picked up assists.
But Leen sewed up the win early in the third period when he tipped Ben Hutton’s point shot past Leisner after Swavely’s pass deflected to him off Shore’s stick.
Anthoine scored Maine’s second shorthanded goal of the game off a Steven Swavely pass on a two-on-one. Higgins capped the scoring from the middle of the slot.