The University of Maine men’s hockey team received an outstanding performance from senior goalie Stephen Mundinger, but that was one of the few bright spots on Sunday afternoon at Alfond Arena in Orono.
The Black Bears’ miserable season-opening weekend concluded with a 5-0 setback to defending Canadian national champion the University of New Brunswick.
Providence College dealt the Black Bears their worst season-opening loss in program history on Saturday, 7-0, in Providence, Rhode Island. The Friars outshot UMaine 59-29.
New Brunswick, which has won five Canadian national championships in the past nine years, dominated the Black Bears in all phases of the game. But Mundinger kept the Black Bears within striking distance, making 17 saves on 18 shots through the first half of the game.
The native of Smithtown, New York, who has played in just five games during his UMaine career, made several top-shelf saves during his stint.
“He played very well. He was efficient,” UMaine coach Red Gendron said.
The only goal off him was a power-play tally by Matthew Boucher, who darted to the top of the crease at the far post and jammed home a pass from below the extended goal line by Mark Rassell.
“He came up with some big saves, especially early,” UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall said.
“I felt good. All my hard work finally paid off,” Mundinger said. “I thought I tracked the puck well.”
But the lack of offense is a major concern for the Black Bears.
“We didn’t generate much offense. We tried to be pretty and (UNB) is good with their sticks. We’ve got to get pucks and bodies to the net,” Gendron said.
“We didn’t score a goal this weekend and we got soundly beaten twice,” Gendron added. “The upside is, we know exactly what we need to do to get better.”
He said UMaine has to work on its special teams as the Black Bears didn’t create many chances on the power play either night, going 0-for-7 on the weekend. They gave up five power-play goals in 13 chances.
“We didn’t go to the net,” UMaine senior left wing and captain Mitch Fossier said. “This weekend wasn’t indicative of us. We need to do some self-reflection. I still believe in the guys. We’ll figure it out.”
Freshman Matthew Thiessen replaced Mundinger with 9:49 left in the second period and surrendered three goals over the rest of the period.
Alexandre Goulet was credited with the second goal when his centering pass glanced into the net off a sliding UMaine player’s skate.
Olivier LeBlanc extended the lead on a 4-on-3 power play when his slap shot from the high slot hit Thiessen and carried into the net.
Patrick Watling capped the second-period scoring when he skated unattended to the far post and simply had to direct a Goulet pass past Thiessen.
Tyler Boland scored UNB’s third power-play goal early in the third period with a rising wrist shot from the left circle past Thiessen’s stick into the short-side corner.
UNB freshman goalie Samuel Harvey was rarely tested and wound up with 14 saves.
Fossier, the Black Bears’ leading scorer a year ago, had two of UMaine’s best scoring chances.
Harvey slid across to make a nifty save off Fossier’s one-timer off an Eduards Tralmaks pass in the first period.
Fossier had a short-handed breakaway in the third period but sailed his backhander high.
Harvey preserved his shutout with a nice left pad save off J.D. Greenway’s 25-foot slap shot with 3:15 remaining.
UNB outshot UMaine 32-14.
UMaine hosts Alaska Anchorage for 7 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday.