The University of Maine men’s hockey team proved to be the elixir for the University of Vermont’s goal-starved hockey team.
Vermont, which entered the game as the nation’s lowest-scoring team with 0.83 goals per game, received two goals and an assist from senior defenseman Christian Evers to beat the Black Bears 5-4 at the Gutterson Fieldhouse Friday afternoon.
Junior defenseman Carter Long provided a vital third-period goal to help give new head coach Todd Woodcroft his first victory with the Catamounts (1-4-2).
Vermont had scored only six goals in its first six games.
UMaine (0-4-1) went into the game as the worst defensive team in Division I, allowing 5.25 goals per game. It is the worst start for the program since the 1982-83 team went 0-14.
The loss also snapped UMaine’s seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2) against the Catamounts.
The teams conclude their series at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We didn’t play nearly well enough in the first two periods and we dug ourselves a hole,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “We played pretty well in the third period but it was too little, too late.”
Sacred Heart transfer Jordan Kaplan opened the scoring for UVM three minutes into the game.
UMaine’s Levi Kleiboer tied it 4:18 later on the power play but Evers’ 5-on-3 power play goal and his even-strength goal 1:43 later gave the Catamounts a 3-1 lead.
UMaine came into the series with the nation’s second-best power play percentage (30 percent).
Lynden Breen pulled UMaine within 3-2 with 3:50 left in the period.
“We took some unnecessary penalties in the first period,” Gendron said.
Tristan Mullin made it 4-2 with the only goal of the second period, the second power play goal of the game for the Catamounts, who were 2-for-21 with the man-advantage entering the contest.
Freshman left wing Tristant Poissant’s first career goal, coming 1:49 into the third period on a wrist shot from a tough angle along the extended goal line, made it a one-goal game but Long answered only 20 seconds later to restore the two-goal cushion.
Long’s seemingly harmless wrist shot from the outer edge of the left faceoff circle glanced into the net off a UMaine defenseman’s shinpads.
“That was an unlucky goal,” Gendron said.
UMaine defenseman Jakub Sirota made things interesting by scoring with 1:08 to go and the Black Bears with an extra attacker on the ice after pulling Thiessen.
But UMaine could not get the equalizer.
Senior Tyler Harmon made 24 saves to pick up his first career win. He had been 0-7-3 while backing up Stefanos Lekkas.
Sophomore Thiessen finished with 25 stops.
Kaplan’s goal to start a five-goal first period came from the low slot to Thiessen’s right off a pretty pass from behind the net by Dovar Tinling. Kleiboer equalized with a 25-foot wrister into the short side off a cross-ice pass from Dawe.
But the Black Bears, the nation’s most penalized team (20 minutes per game), took penalties five seconds apart.
Evers capitalized after Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup was called for tripping with a one-timer from the top of the left circle off a Ray Vitolins feed. With Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi off for cross-checking, Evers scored with a wrist shot over Thiessen’s glove after his initial shot was blocked and came right back to him.
Breen made it 3-2 when he pushed a shot from Schmidt-Svejstrup that slipped through Harmon’s pads over the goal line.
Evers slid the puck across to Mullin in the right faceoff circle and his screened one-timer sailed over Thiessen’s glove into the short-side corner to account for the second-period scoring.
After the teams swapped early third-period goals, Sirota’s slap shot off a Dawe pass closed out the scoring after UMaine pulled the goalie.
“That was good execution in the 6-on-5 but we shouldn’t have been in that position,” Gendron said.
UMaine was outshot 22-12 through the first two periods but outshot Vermont 16-8 in the final period.