The Maine Black Bears earned 2 points for Hockey East over the weekend in split over the Vermont Catamounts.
Friday night, Maine was coming off their disappointing weekend against UMass as they hosted Vermont in their Hockey East home opener. What came as a shock to many people was the return of goaltender Brody Hoffman, who has been injured for the first five games for Vermont.
Maine overall didn’t play bad, but they didn’t get off to a hot start. While they did outshoot Vermont 10-9, in terms of quality scoring chances Maine only got four chances. They really couldn’t get anything going against Vermont’s shot-blocking defensive style leaving the score 0-0 after 1. The 2nd period was better for Maine, they had better possession of the puck and lot more scoring chances, but they just couldn’t bury it past Hoffman as it remained a 0-0 snoozer after two.
In the 3rd period Maine was finally able to crack the code that was Brody Hoffman, but it took some help from some penalties. But before that, Andrew Cerretani accidentally took a stick to the face and fell hard onto the ice, there’s been no update of what the injury is.
After Maine was on a powerplay, Vermont’s Connor Brickley delivered a huge hit to Mark Anthoine, refs made a boarding call which results in a 5-minute major and a game misconduct (ejection) to the offender. This gave Maine 53 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. They took advantage almost instantly, as 13 seconds later Devin Shore found Ben Hutton down low and he fired a shot and broke the scoreless tie. The way Maine scored was the exact same way they did weeks ago against UMass. Shore skated to the faceoff circle and Hutton moves down low to the goal line and fires a shot.
“The goalie has to play Devin. I skated across and Devin passed it to me. I wanted to go short-side high because I thought the goalie would be sliding across.” Said Ben Hutton, the goal scorer.
Because of the major penalty, Vermont was down a man for the rest of the game. Maine used this to their advantage as Steven Swavely scored on a 3-on-1 break to make it 2-0. Vermont never recovered and finished the game on the penalty kill.
Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said, “I don’t think we played very well. We weren’t willing to pay the price and we took two terrible penalties in the third period. The better team won tonight.”
Red Gendron after the game:
At the end of the day, Maine played well enough to earn the W, they just needed to get off to a better start. This was Maine’s first conference victory of the season.
Saturday night got off to a similar start, score was 0-0, however Maine got a lot of quality scoring chances with five to Vermont’s zero. Maine outshot Vermont 12-7 in the first.
Then the game escalated into an offensive explosion, Eric Schurhamer fired a shot from the point to score a powerplay goal, 1-0 Maine. This was Schurhamer’s first collegiate goal as well as first point. It didn’t take too long for Vermont to respond as Chris Muscoby fired a cross-pass, but Bill Norman’s stick deflected the puck in the air and it went into the net. Brady Shaw found the net in a cluster of bodies in the crease to make it 2-1 Vermont. With less than a minute left in the period Mario Puskarich the carried the puck from the corner, pulled up front and fired it passed five-hole past Marty to make it 3-1.
“After we scored that first goal, we lost our swagger.” -Red Gendron
The 3rd period got off to a rocky start, Chris McCarthy scored on the breakaway that came from a turnover at the point to make it 4-1 Vermont. That’s what finally awoke the Black Bears as it seemed they went into hibernation after scoring one goal.
Mark Anthoine made it a 2-goal game with a wristshot, Stu Higgins forced the turnover and found Anthoine to set the score 4-2. Blaine Byron decreased the deficit to one with a shot from the faceoff circle for a score of 4-3. Maine did everything they could in the final two minutes to even it up, but it wasn’t enough as Vermont was able to hold on to their 4-3 lead to earn a split over the Black Bears.
Coach Gendron was not pleased with his team’s performance “As soon as we got a goal it was like, “Uhh games over, Vermont’s gonna quit, pack your bags and go home.” Well obviously they didn’t quit. They didn’t act like that and so right now I’m angry, and the people in our [locker] room are deeply disappointed as they should be. They let one get away”
“You must compete for 60 minutes.” Said Red as he began to get irritated with the questions about Maine’s effort. He even gave us [media] a quick lecture on Hedonism. Check his video down below.
All-in-all Maine had a decent weekend, really their worst part was that portion of game 2 when they gave up four unanswered goals before attempting a comeback. The 60-minute effort continues to be a work in progress for Maine as we move into the second month of the season. It will be interesting to see what Maine will do at practice this week to get ready for this weekend.
Maine will face off against rival Boston University this Friday night. I will have a preview of this matchup on Wednesday.