ORONO — The momentum from Friday night’s first win of the season didn’t carry over to Saturday night for the University of Maine’s hockey team.
The Merrimack College Warriors parlayed a first-period goal from junior left wing Ben Brar, a second-period tally from sophomore defenseman Christian Felton and an impressive overall performance to beat the Black Bears 2-0 at Alfond Arena.
Sophomore Zachary Borgiel made 18 saves to post his first career shutout. He was rarely tested but came up with stops when he was called upon.
Merrimack improved to 5-7-0 overall, 3-6-0 in Hockey East while UMaine fell to 1-8-1 and 1-5-0. UMaine had rallied to win Friday night’s game 6-5 in overtime.
The Warriors were the better team throughout, keeping the Black Bears pinned in their own end for long stretches with their tenacious forecheck and then doing a thorough job in their own zone as they blocked 11 shots and cleared the net front for Borgiel.
The Black Bears turned in a respectable defensive performance and junior goalie Matt Thiessen played very well, finishing with 26 saves, but UMaine wasn’t able to generate many high-percentage scoring chances or create a lot of forechecking pressure.
Merrimack outshot UMaine 28-18.
University of Maine first-year head coach Ben Barr called his team’s performance “disheartening.
“There was nothing about that game that was good enough. We aren’t willing, as a team, to pay the price to do certain things [we need to do to win],” Barr said.
Merrimack coach Scott Borek said he was “really proud” of his team.
“Last night was a debilitating loss and it could have gone the wrong way [tonight] but our leadership really brought our team ready to play. I loved our effort in the first period,” Borek said.
“It was a big win,” added Borek.
Brar opened the scoring 10:01 into the game.
UMaine defenseman Cam Spicer tried to make a breakout pass but it went into a teammate’s skates and Merrimack’s Steven Jandric pounced on the loose puck just inside the blue line.
Jandric passed over to Max Newton in the left circle and he snapped a cross-ice pass to Brar in the right circle and he one-timed the puck into the short side.
“He put it a little higher than my glove and I was a little late getting over there,” Thiessen said. “He made a good play but that would have been a (nice) save for me to make.”
UMaine had its best chance of the game on the power play in that first period but Adam Dawe’s one-timer from the left circle rattled off the crossbar.
The Warriors outshot UMaine 11-5 in the first period.
Felton, nephew of former UMaine head hockey coach Tim Whitehead, scored his first career goal in his 21st game at the 15:49 mark of the second period off a feed from behind the net by Liam Walsh.
“Liam made a great play,” said Felton, who transferred to Merrimack from Bentley. “He had some space [behind the net] and I saw some space down low to get in the slot for him and he made a great pass.”
Felton’s one-timer from just above the right faceoff dot beat Thiessen to the far side.
The goal was special for Felton.
“It is everything to me,” he said. “I grew up playing here every summer and, during the season, I would come here and watch my uncle’s teams play.”
Felton’s mother and Whitehead’s wife, Dena, are sisters.
“I was really happy for Christian,” said Borek. “This was a pretty special weekend for him.”
In addition to having 11 shots blocked, UMaine also missed the net 12 times.
Senior right winger Dawe said putting more shots on net was addressed during practice leading up to the weekend.
“You can’t shoot high off the glass. It’s going to cause turnovers. We didn’t generate much. That’s on all of us. We didn’t play how we wanted to play,” Dawe said. “Their goalie didn’t get tested very much.”
UMaine will travel fo Boston College for Thursday and Friday night games at 7p.m.