The road woes and offensive struggles continued again on Saturday night for the University of Maine’s men hockey team.
Late second-period goals 18 seconds apart by John Leonard and Niko Hildenbrand broke open a close game and sent the University of Massachusetts on its way to a 4-1 Hockey East victory over the Black Bears at the Mullins Center.
UMaine had its Hockey East road winless streak extended to six games (0-5-1) during which the Black Bears have been outscored 21-9.
UMass is 17-1-1 in its last 19 games at the Mullins Center.
It was UMaine’s sixth of seven consecutive road games and the Black Bears (8-7-3 overall, 4-6-2 HE) are 1-4-1 so far with a Tuesday night non-conference game at Yale University finishing off the stretch.
It was the third straight game in which UMaine has been held to just one goal and all three goals have come on the power play. UMass (11-4-1 overall, 6-3-1 HE) won Friday night’s game 5-1.
It is the sixth time in the last seven games the Black Bears have scored two or fewer goals. UMaine has scored two goals or less 12 times in 18 games this season.
“We’re struggling to score right now. We aren’t getting enough shots on net,” UMaine senior center and assistant captain Tim Doherty said. “Scoring one goal in each of the last three games is unacceptable. We’ve got to bear down and find a way to score goals.”
All-America right wing Mitchell Chaffee broke a scoreless tie with his 12th goal of the season with 7:03 remaining in the second period. Chaffee popped home a Marc Del Gaizo rebound.
Leonard’s 10th made it 2-0 at the 18:14 mark as he scored on the power play. He lifted the puck past UMaine goalie Jeremy Swayman from close range off assists from Del Gaizo and Chaffee.
Hildenbrand’s first of the season extended it to 3-0 as he redirected a Jake Gaudet pass past Swayman.
Adam Dawe gave the Black Bears some life 4:27 into the third period when he scored a power-play goal. All five of his goals have come with the man advantage.
It was UMaine’s only power-play opportunity of the evening. Levi Kleiboer and Mitch Fossier assisted on the goal.
But UMass goalie Matt Murray stopped 12 shots in the final period and Philip Lagunov added an empty-net goal to sew up the victory with 2:38 remaining.
Murray finished with 23 saves while Swayman had 30 stops.
Doherty said UMaine played better than its did on Friday night but the late second-period flurry by UMass, including the goals 18 seconds apart, were costly.
“If you take a few shifts off against a good team, they’ll make you pay and that’s what happened tonight,” Doherty said. “We didn’t help ourselves giving up those [back-to-back] goals. You aren’t going to win games doing that. We have to have a better response [after giving up a goal].”
Dawe’s power-play goal extended UMaine’s streak of games with at least one power-play goal to five. UMaine is 6-for-21 with the man advantage during that stretch. UMaine has at least one power-play goal in seven of its last eight games.
UMass went 1-for-3 on the power play.