COLUMBUS, Ohio – A day off between games did nothing to lessen the focus of the University of Maine hockey team.
Rather, the Black Bears played a more inspired brand of hockey the day after attending Ohio State University’s Homecoming football game Saturday against Iowa.
The unbeaten Bears downed the host Buckeyes 3-1 Sunday afternoon to improve to 5-0.
The Buckeyes slumped to 2-7 with their seventh straight loss.
“I think we enjoyed the day off between games. We got to see a homecoming game and treated it like a reward,” said Maine coach Shawn Walsh. “I was especially pleased with the way we came out today.
“I think the first two periods we played our best hockey of the year. We came back to the puck, worked the puck all over the ice, and our defenseman got up quickly with some speed I hadn’t seen before.”
The Bears got on the board in the first period as Dan Kerluke scored his fourth goal of the season off assists from Eric Turgeon and Tom Reimann with 8:23 left.
“We were all over them early on,” said Bears goalie Mike Morrison. “We knew we had to get all over them from the start because we let up a little early on Friday.”
The 2-7 Buckeyes tied it with 14:37 left in the second period on a goal by Jean-Francois Dufour, but the Bears answered five minutes later with Cory Larose’s second goal – on a power play – in the last two games.
“We switched it up from the first first to the second period and Nico [Dimitrakos] made a pass across ice,” Larose explained. “I looked up and Barrett [Heisten] took the goalie’s eyes away, so I shot it.”
Maine made it 3-1 with 7:46 left in the second when Ben Guite scored on a power play by poking the puck in during a flurry in front of the net. Larose and Dimitrakos were credited with assists.
“It came down to hard work and working the puck,” Larose said. “That’s the only thing we did differently from Friday night. I think getting to the puck quicker really helped out.”
Walsh’s experiment with a rotating, two-goalie system continued to pay big dividends as sophomore Mike Morrison saved 32 of 33 shots – 19 of which came in the third period.
Morrison says he and Matt Yeats have both benefited from the rotating system.
“It’s working fine for us because it’s really helping us to keep pushing each other,” he said.
The Buckeyes also pushed Morrison in the third period as theBears 19-11.
Goalie Ray Aho made 41 saves on 44 shots for the Buckeyes.
The lights at Value City Arena flickered and went out late in the third period Sunday. After a brief delay, the lights came back on and then dimmed, but the game was resumed anyway.
Black Bears 3, Buckeyes 1
Maine (5-0) 1 2 0 – 3 Ohio State (2-7) 0 1 0 – 1
First period – 1. Maine, Kerluke 4 (Turgeon, Reimann), 11:37. Penalties: Maine, Walsh, interference, 0:22; OSU, Boileau, interference, 2:40; OSU, Selleke, hooking, 7:40; OSU, Meloche, hooking, 9:30; OSU, Meloche, high-sticking, 17:22
Second period – 2. OSU, Dufour 4 (McCormick, Freeman), 5:23; 3. Maine, Larose 2 (Dimitrakos, Janik), 9:12 (pp); 4. Maine, Guite 2 (Dimitrakos, Larose), 12:14 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Shaneberger, interference, 3:04; OSU, Broccoli, tripping, 8:24; Maine, Kariya, interference, 9:34; OSU, Titus, checking from behind, 11:58
Third period – No scoring. Penalties: Maine, Lundback, holding, 1:08; Maine, Trattnig, interference, 5:08; OSU, Gagna, roughing, 9:03; OSU, Meloche, tripping, 11:13; Maine, Dimitrakos, tripping, 11:43; OSU, Broccoli, slashing, 13:01
Shots on goal: Maine 18-15-11-44; Ohio State 8-6-19-33
High-percentage scoring chances: Maine 15-19-9-43; Ohio State 6-12-15-33
Power-play Opportunities: Maine 2 of 9, Ohio State 0 of 7
Goaltenders: Maine, Morrison (33 shots-32 saves); Ohio State, Aho (44-41)