ORONO, Maine. – The Maine men’s ice hockey team took a 5-1 lead in the third period but had to hold on for a 5-4 win after three late New Hampshire goals Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,541 fans at Alfond Arena. Maine, ranked third in the nation, is now 18-6-1 overall and are in third place in Hockey East with a 10-4-1 conference record. New Hampshire is 15-8-3 overall and 7-4-3 in Hockey East.
In the first period, Maine got on the board when John Ronan (South Boston, Mass.) was on the far left side of the net and centered the puck to Mike Hamilton (Victoria, B.C.) who scored from the slot at 7:23. Prestin Ryan (Arcola, Saskatchewan) was also credited with an assist. The Black Bears continued the offensive pressure with a goal by Dustin Penner (Winkler, Manitoba) with an assist by Derek Damon (Bangor, Maine) at 11:49 in the first period. Ronan gave the Black Bears a 3-0 lead at 13:31 when he scored with assists by Hamilton and Jon Jankus (Stoney Creek, Ontario). Maine had a 13-6 lead on shots in the first period.
Maine continued the offensive pressure in the second period, as Michel Leveille (Levis, Quebec) had a one-on-one chance, however New Hampshire goalie Mike Ayers made a great save at 4:10 in the period. Maine took a 4-0 lead when Damon scored on a power play opportunity at 12:10 with assists by Colin Shields (Glasgow, Scotland) and Leveille. For Shields, it was his 100th career point, becoming the 34th Black Bear to join the 100 point club. The Wildcats scored with 18 seconds remaining in the period as Steve Saviano scored with an assist by Sean Collins. Maine had an 11-9 lead on shots in the period.
The third period started with a Black Bear goal by Todd Jackson (Cortland, N.Y.), assisted by Ryan, to give Maine a 5-1 lead. Maine had a chance to go up 6-1, however a shot by Penner was ruled no goal after hitting the inside of the post at 14:43. New Hampshire changed goalies, as Ayers was replaced by Jeff Pietrasiak. The Wildcats did not give up, as Saviano scored at 16:17 in the period on a power play with assists by Justin Aikens and Collins. At 17:13, the Wildcats made it 5-3 when Daiel Winnik scored unassisted. With an empty net, New Hampshire scored at 19:45 to make it a one goal game when Jacob Micflikier got the puck past Doyle with assists by Horst and Winnik. Maine was able to kill the final 15 seconds to hold on to the win. New Hampshire had a 12-11 lead on shots in the third period.
In goal, Maine’s Frank Doyle (Guelph, Ontario) had four goals against and 23 saves on the night and moves to 13-3-0 on the season. For the Wildcats, Mike Ayers (Hingham, Mass.) had five goals against and 23 saves while Jeff Pietrasiak (Shrewsbury, Mass.) had no goals against and seven saves in the third period. Maine picked up 9 penalties for 18 minutes and New Hampshire had 11 for 22 minutes. Maine was 1-9 on power plays and New Hampshire was 2-6.
The game marked the third consecutive sellout and sixth sellout of the season for the Black Bears. The Black Bears are back at Alfond Arena on Saturday, January 31 against New Hampshire at 7 p.m, which will be broadcast by WABI (Bangor) and WMTW (Portland).