Matthew Thiessen had a long time to reflect on his previous outing. It was 0ct. 19 against Quinnipiac and he allowed three goals on six shots.
The freshman goaltender made 30 saves on Saturday night to lead the University of Maine men’s hockey team to a 2-0 exhibition victory over the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 squad in front of 2,759 fans at Alfond Arena in Orono.
The Black Bears received goals from senior center Tim Doherty (power play) and senior left wing Ryan Smith as UMaine improved to 10-2 all time against the US Under-18 team.
The game served as a tune-up for the stretch run during which UMaine plays 12 Hockey East games, including the next three on the road, and eight of the final nine at home.
In addition to Thiessen, several other players who have seen limited playing time this season received an opportunity to showcase their abilities.
Junior wingers Kevin Hock and Adrian Holesinksy and freshman Brady Gaudette received valuable ice time along with freshmen defensemen Perry Winfree and Dawson Bruneski.
“They all played well. They played within themselves. They played to the structure of the team. They made simple, effective plays,” said UMaine head coach Red Gendron.
He praised Thiessen for his performance.
“He struggled against Quinnipiac but this was great for him and his confidence,” Gendron said. “He has worked really hard and and to pitch a shutout is really good.
“I thought he showed much more patience. He let the puck come to him. He played with confidence, he said.
Thieseen, a seventh-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, was pleased to be able to play and play well.
“It was nice to play a full game. I feel I got my confidence back,” Thiessen said. “I’ve got to keep working hard in practice and be ready for any situation that may come my way.”
Thiessen said his teammates did an impressive job boxing out in front to allow him to see the shots and that the USA team was a quality opponent.
“It was a good challenge,’” Thiessen said.
Thiessen was playing in place of junior goalie Jeremy Swayman, who ranks second in the country in minutes played (1,329 minutes, 4 seconds) and got the night off.
Gendron had planned to use senior Stephen Mundinger but said Mundinger approached him on Friday and told him he wanted redshirt this season and come back to UMaine next year.
So he asked if Gendron not to play him so he can keep that option available.
Mundinger can continue to practice with the team but if he appears in a regular-season game during the second half of the season, he wouldn’t be able to redshirt.
NCAA student-athletes have five years in which to complete four years of eligibility.
Mundinger and Thiessen did play in October’s 5-0 exhibition loss to the University of New Brunswick.
Gendron said the team did a pretty good job playing the way he wants them to play.
“They didn’t deviate from the things we do that make us good,” Gendron said.
Doherty’s first-period with the man-advantage could give the power play a little boost after a 1-for-14 showing in its last four games. UMaine had scored at least one power-play goal in its five previous games before the current four-game stretch.
Doherty received the puck off the stick of Adam Dawe in the bottom of the faceoff circle and beat Team USA goalie Noah Grannon (25 saves), a University of Wisconsin commit.
Junior defenseman Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi also assisted on the goal.
UMaine went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
The Black Bears killed off all four Team USA power plays.
Smith scored in the second period with a slap shot from the midpoint that glanced in off the post. Tiuraniemi and junior defenseman Cam Spicer picked up assists.
Spicer was playing for the first time after missing four season games with a broken foot.
UMaine (10-8-4 overall, 4-6-2 in Hockey East) travels to the University of Connecticut (7-10-4, 4-7-2 HE) for a 7:05 p.m. game on Wednesday night in Bridgeport at the Webster Bank Arena, which has hosted several NCAA Division I hockey regionals.