ORONO, Maine. – The Maine men’s ice hockey team notched a 5-0 shutout win over New Hampshire on Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,641 fans at Alfond Arena to sweep the weekend series. The Black Bears have set a new single season record with six shutouts this year – two by Jimmy Howard and four by Frank Doyle. Maine, ranked third in the nation, is now 19-6-1 overall and are in third place in Hockey East with a 11-4-1 conference record. New Hampshire is 15-9-3 overall and 7-5-3 in Hockey East.
“This was a very satisfying win,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. “A win over New Hampshire, our rival, feels good anytime, but tonight was a much better feeling than last night. It was a thorough win and we stuck to our game plan to the finish. I am proud of our guys for picking up two more points over a very good team. The defense tonight was as good as it has been lately. It was nice to get some goals for Jimmy, who has had three great performances after returning to the line-up. Jimmy looked sharp tonight in every situation.”
Maine took the lead on their first power play chance of the night as Michel Leveille (Levis, Quebec) scored with assists by Mike Lundin (Apple Valley, Minn.) and Colin Shields (Glasgow, Scotland) at the 8:00 mark. Derek Damon (Bangor, Maine) took the puck most of the way down the ice for a shorthanded goal at 14:07. Steve Mullin (Cartwright, Manitoba) and Todd Jackson (Cortland, N.Y.) were credited with the assist.
The Black Bears continued to show improvement on the power play, as Jon Jankus (Stoney Creek, Ontario) scored at 8:56 in the second period with assists by Prestin Ryan (Arcola, Saskatchewan) and Jackson. Jackson scored a goal at 15:17 with assists by Damon and Dustin Penner (Winkler, Manitoba). Greg Moore added to the Maine lead with a third power play goal at 15:58 in the period when he tipped in a shot by Lundin that was set up by Shields. Maine had a 14-6 lead on shots in the period.
In the third period, New Hampshire changed goalies, putting Jeff Pietrasiak in the net. He recorded five saves, but the Wildcats could not score as Jimmy Howard stopped all 13 New Hampshire shots in the period to preserve the shutout victory. The shutout was the fifth of Howard’s career, and second of the season. He is one short of the Maine career record for shutouts, which is six held by Frank Doyle and Alfie Michaud (1996-99).
In goal, Maine’s Jimmy Howard (Ogdensburg, N.Y.) had the shutout and 25 saves on the night and moves to 6-3-1 on the season. For the Wildcats, Mike Ayers (Hingham, Mass.) had five goals against and 18 saves while Jeff Pietrasiak (Shrewsbury, Mass.) had no goals against and five saves in the third period. Maine picked up 6 penalties for 12 minutes and New Hampshire had 7 for 22 minutes. Maine was 3-5 on power plays and New Hampshire was 0-5.
The game marked the fourth consecutive sellout and seventh sellout of the season for the Black Bears. The Black Bears are back at Alfond Arena on Friday, February 6 against Alabama-Huntsville at 7 p.m.