The Black Bears dropped both games in the season opener against St. Lawrence Friday night (STL 3-1) and Saturday night (STL 5-2). Both nights saw disappointing turnovers, some bad plays by Marty, but also to give some props to St. Lawrence’s goaltender Matt Weninger was phenomenal stopping a total 58 shots out of 61 total over the weekend..
On night one Maine found themselves in a similar situation to what they’d oddly become accustomed to all last year, playing with a deficit early. Following the mishandling of a dumped puck by Maine goaltender Marty, Greg Carey of St. Lawrence recovered the puck in the corner, skated around the net, came all the way out front before dishing it off to Gavin Bayreuther who fired it into the net to make it 1-0 with seven minutes left in the first. Freshman Blaine Byron got Maine’s first goal of the year just under two minutes into the second who scored on Weninger to tie it up at 1. This tie wouldn’t last long as less than two minutes later Patrick Doherty took the puck from his own blue line and skated along the board beating two Maine defenders and fired a shot from the faceoff circle that beat goaltender Martin Ouellette making it 2-1. 10 minutes passed with no scoring, then Brian Ward of St. Lawrence scored the third and final goal as many bodies piled in the crease, Ward was the one to knock it home. Maine tried to get something going, but four penalties in the third made it hard for Maine to get some quality scoring chances. Coach Gendron said, “We played hard but nowhere near good enough to win,” He also remarked that they, “made some mistakes defensively and, offensively, we didn’t have the kind of poise we needed to score more goals against this team. In some cases, we didn’t have enough effort around their net.” Which was true, Maine was outshot 31-26 on Friday; in addition their discipline which has been a subject of talk during the preseason was awful. The four penalties when the team was down in the third was inexcusable, a way to kill any chance of momentum or scoring chances. One thing of note on the lines is the newest version of the “Kid Line”, on Maine’s second forward line saw Blaine Byron, Cam Brown, and Brian Morgan as LW-C-RW respectively. Red Gendron noted that the play from this line was a bright spot from Friday night.
Maine came into night two on Saturday with hopes of at least getting the split. But Brian Ward and Greg Carey spoiled their wish with two goals late in the third less than one minute from each other to give St. Lawrence the win and the sweep over Maine.
Maine got off on the right foot with Sophomore Ryan Lomberg netting the first goal of the game in the first period to make it 1-0 Maine. Just under three minutes into the second on the powerplay, Gavin Bayreuther fired a shot past Marty to tie it up at 1. Then with just under 8 seconds left in the 2nd, Greg Carey fired a shot at Marty from the boards; Marty made the initial save leaving the puck to fly in the air, Jeremy Wick batted it out of the air to take the lead 2-1 after two periods. Mark Anthoine scored the game-tying goal on the powerplay with eight minutes left, but off a turnover in the neutral zone/Maine’s territory led to Brian Ward firing a wristshot from the point to reclaim the lead for St. Lawrence. Less than a minute later, off another Maine turnover in the neutral zone, St. Lawrence setup a 3-on-1 as Jeremy Wick found Greg Carey to bury home his second of the year making it 4-2 St. Lawrence. Greg Carey scored one more on an empty netter to solidify the sweep for St. Lawrence. Maine was also outshot in this one 37-35. Coach Gendron voiced his disappointment over the weekend, “At the end of the day, for two nights, we didn’t put together a full 60 minutes and because we didn’t, we didn’t win,” Maine’s “Kid Line” was moved up to the first forward line on Saturday, Center Devin Shore played alongside wingers Leen and Lomberg. Junior Defenseman Jake Rutt saw a demotion to the third defensive pairing alongside Connor Riley with Ben Hutton playing alongside captain Brice O’Connor on the first Defensive pair.
My reaction to this weekend’s action, I’m not surprised by the result even though I predicted on WMEB’s Tape-to-Tape on Friday that Maine would have at least 2 points. But this has shown me that despite all the changes to this program, this is still a team that’s in progress. The power play is a necessity that Maine needs to improve on as they had only scored 1 out of 9 times on the man advantage. But they move on, Gendron said that they’ll be working on the powerplay as well as goal production this week in preparation for Bentley, who comes to Orono on Saturday night.
Bentley of the Atlantic Hockey conference was picked 9th in their conference preseason poll. they split with Nebraska-Omaha last weekend. This one will be interesting for the Black Bears as they look for their first win of the season. But for more on this game and a preview of Bentley, check out Tape-to-Tape on WMEB 91.9 FM on Friday 1-3p.m. (Maine’s in the first hour).