Kevin Hock entered Friday night’s Hockey East game against Merrimack looking for his first collegiate point in his 26th career game.
With the University of Maine holding a tenuous one-goal lead in the third period, the junior right wing fed senior transfer Sam Rennaker for a breakaway goal and then scored on a 2-on-1 off a Rennaker feed as the Black Bears posted a 6-2 victory at Alfond Arena in Orono.
“We did a lot of good things,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “For the most part, we controlled the game. The one negative was our [lack of] discipline.”
Merrimack had seven power plays to UMaine’s three.
Sophomore right wing Adam Dawe scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season for UMaine (13-9-4 overall, 7-7-2 HE) with Tim Doherty collecting his team-leading 13th, and his sixth in six games.
Eduards Tralmaks scored his 12th goal into an empty net.
Rennaker’s goal was his fourth. He and Hock are the wingers on a line centered by junior Jack Quinlivan.
Ben Brar (5th) and Sami Tavernier (6th) scored for Merrimack (6-17-3, 4-9-3 HE), both on the power play.
Junior Jeremy Swayman made 19 saves for the Black Bears, who have won three in a row and are 7-0-2 at Alfond Arena this season.
Freshman Troy Kobryn made 29 stops for Merrimack.
It was the first time in the last 17 meetings between the two that a game was decided by more than two goals.
“I’ve waited for this moment for a very long time,” grinned Hock, who is from Braintree, Massachusetts. “It means everything to me. And to get it with this group of guys is really meaningful.”
Just 57 seconds after UMaine killed off Dawe’s five-minute, contact-to-the-head major that spanned the second and third periods, Rennaker broke free behind the Warriors and Hock put the pass right on his stick.
“I saw [Rennaker] move like I’d never seen him move before and, all of a sudden, he was wide open,” Hock said.
“Their two guys at the blue line went to [Hock] and they didn’t have anyone in the middle,” said Rennaker, who snapped a wrist shot over Kobryn’s blocker.
Merrimack coach Scott Borek said that was the turning point in the game.
“One of our defensemen, Jacob Modry, led the rush which I have no problem with. But no one covered for him. That’s a cardinal sin,” Borek said.
The linemates reversed roles 7:37 later with Hock converting after Rennaker knocked down an attempted chip by a defenseman with his glove and skated past him to create the 2-on-1.
“[Hock] was wide open and he tapped it in,” Rennaker said.
“After the first one, Rennaker and I came back back to the bench and we were like, ‘this is our night,’ and we ended up scoring a couple of shifts later. That was very special,” Hock added.
Borek said UMaine deserved the win.
“Maine won the game with their forecheck tonight,” said Borek. “They played really hard and we turned the puck over.”
Dawe and Doherty staked UMaine to a 2-0 lead. Brar pulled one back with the man advantage courtesy of a fortunate bounce off the Zamboni entrance that landed on his stick in front of Swayman.
Dawe made it 3-1 6:32 into the second period by swatting his own rebound out of the air, but Tavernier answered on the power play with 42 seconds left in the period.
Tavernier scored with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle to make it 3-2.
Schmidt-Svejstrup, Fossier and defenseman Simon Butala posted two assists apiece for UMaine. Brar had an assist to go with his goal for Merrimack.