University of Maine men’s hockey coach Red Gendron thought his team played a much better game, 5-on-5, on Saturday night against the University of New Hampshire than it did in Friday night’s shootout victory.
But the Wildcats were more opportunistic and senior goalie Mike Robinson finished with 32 saves as UNH posted a 6-2 Hockey East triumph at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire.
The loss snapped UMaine’s four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) against the Wildcats.
The games were supposed to be played at Alfond Arena in Orono, but Gov. Janet Mills’ executive order limiting indoor gatherings to 50 people forced the games to be moved to Durham.
Junior left wing Angus Crookshank, who failed to score on Friday even after getting a game-high seven shots on goal, scored two goals. That included a crucial one just 3:23 into the third period that gave UNH a 4-2 lead and some breathing room.
Each team scored two power-play goals.
“We had the better of the play 5-on-5, no question about it,” Gendron said. “But we didn’t make enough plays in all situations to win the game.
“I told the guys after the game it’s hard to win college hockey games. You have to execute and we didn’t execute enough plays,” he added.
Jacob Schmidt-Svestrup’s screened wrist shot from the high slot with the man advantage gave UMaine a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Crookshank, who scored a team-high 16 goals a year ago, tied it on the power play. He drove to the net, got his stick on a rebound and had the puck trickle down goalie Matthew Thiessen’s back and into the net.
It was a delayed-penalty goal by UNH defenseman Benton Maass that broke a 1-1 tie and gave UNH the lead for good.
In college hockey, a team retains a power play even if it scores in a delayed penalty situation. Patrick Grasso converted on the ensuing power play to make it 3-1.
Maass made it 2-1 after UNH got the extra attacker on the ice on the delayed penalty on UMaine’s Brad Morrrissey for kneeing.
Lucas Herrmann wheeled around and wristed a shot from the point that Thiessen saved, but spilled a rebound across to the far post where Maass shoveled it home.
Only 45 seconds later, during a scramble in front, Grasso pounced on a loose puck and flipped it home for his 21st career power-play goal.
UMaine pulled within one with the only goal of the second period. Emil Westerlund jammed his own rebound home after Robinson initially kicked out his deflection off a Schmidt-Svejstrup pass.
But Maine squandered a 27-second 5-on-3 later in the period as Robinson rose to the occasion as he did throughout the contest.
“He made some incredible saves,” Gendron said.
Crookshank made it 4-2 in the third when he took a pass in stride, sprinted around UMaine defenseman J.D. Greenway and sliced across the low slot from right to left. He snapped the puck past Thiessen’s blocker.
Moments later, UMaine failed to convert on a 4-on-3 power play that lasted 1:06.
Cam Gendron added an insurance goal with 8:07 left when he knocked Jakub Sirota to the ice, stole the puck and beat Thiessen from a tough angle to the short side.
Any potential comeback bid was wiped out nine seconds later when UMaine’ Ben Poisson was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind.
Joe Hankinson added an empty net goal.
Thiessen finished with 27 stops.
UMaine travels to UMass Lowell for a 6 p.m. game on Saturday.