ORONO, Maine — An impressive crowd of 4,521 turned out to see the winless University of Maine’s hockey team play an exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick, which has won four Canadian national championships in nine years and was the national runner-up a year ago.
And the fans learned that the Black Bears need a lot of work on faceoffs.
The University of New Brunswick won 44 of 66 faceoffs and scored its last three goals off faceoffs to deal the Black Bears a 5-1 setback.
Right wing and leading scorer Philippe Maillet had two goals and an assist for the Varsity Reds.
Maine coach Red Gendron said his team made a variety of coverage blunders on faceoffs but felt there were some positives.
“We generated a lot more offense than we did at Quinnipiac (4-0 loss on Tuesday) and some players who haven’t played much got the opportunity to play and show us what they could do,” said Gendron. “We made some nice plays but tried to be too fancy at the offensive blue line and (UNB) came right back down the ice with it.”
UNB used late second-period goals by Philippe Halley and Maillet to snap a 1-1 tie before Randy Gazzola and Francis Beauvillier added third-period goals.
Maine carried the play in the middle period after UNB owned the first period, but it was the Varsity Reds who capitalized against a goal-starved Maine team that had scored only two goals in its last four games.
Halley scored with 5:37 left when Maillet retrieved his own blocked shot and threaded a pass to the far post where he directed it past helpless Maine goalie Sean Romeo.
Maillet extended the lead on the power play with 14 seconds left when he pounced on a loose puck off a faceoff, skated untouched to the net front and tucked the puck past Romeo.
“You want to make sure you score on those chances,” said Maillet. “It was a broken play.”
“Our defenseman along the boards didn’t come around and support Steven Swavely (who took the faceoff) and the other forward didn’t step up,” said Gendron.
In the third period, a faceoff win wound up on the stick of Gazzola at the left point and his uncontested wrist shot glanced in off Romeo’s glove.
Beauvillier scored with a blast from the right circle after UNB had won another face-off.
UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall said they do a lot of faceoff drills and if they don’t win the faceoff, “we try to get the puck back as quickly as possible.”
He thought his team played well and credited Alex Dubeau with making a number of important saves at critical times.
Dubeau finished with 25 saves.
“I thought I might be rusty but I felt really good out there,” said Dubeau.
Romeo wound up with 24 stops including 15 during an impressive first period performance.
“He made a lot of big saves but he needed to make more,” said Gendron.
Maillet opened the scoring 4:13 into the first period during a four-on-four but Maine freshman Brendan Robbins tied it up against the run of play with 18 seconds left in the period.
Maillet dashed down the right wing, cut in and rolled a six-foot backhander past Romeo.
Robbins tied it when fellow freshman Rob Michel’s pass from the right wing boards deflected over to him and he tapped it into the empty net.