ORONO – University of Maine senior center Marty Kariya saw that linemate Lucas Lawson “didn’t have many options” while he controlled the puck in the right corner on a second-period power play.
So he gave him one.
“I snuck in a bit,” said Kariya who crept down between the bottom of the faceoff circle and the crease and one-timed Lawson’s pinpoint pass to break a scoreless tie and send the Bears to a 5-0 men’s hockey victory over MAAC preseason favorite Mercyhurst College at the Alfond Arena Friday night.
Maine is now 4-1-1 while Mercyhurst, an NCAA Tournament team two years ago, fell to 1-3-1. The teams will play again tonight at 7.
Fueled by the goal, the Bears began dominating the game against the hard-working Lakers and added goals later in the period by sophomore center Ben Murphy and senior left wing Chris Heisten, who extended his goal-scoring streak to four games.
Senior center Tommy Reimann extended the lead to 4-0 in the third period before Heisten capped the scoring with a power-play goal.
Freshman goalie Jimmy Howard posted his second consecutive shutout at the Alfond Arena and extended his scoreless streak to 128 minutes and 38 seconds. The school record is 147:53 set by Blair Allison in January of 1996.
Howard made 17 saves, including eight high-percentage stops.
Junior goalie Matt Cifelli was outstanding in the Laker net, making 40 saves, including 18 of the high-percentage variety.
“Once we got that goal, it kind of took the pressure off us. If we hadn’t got that one, we may have pressed and tried to force it,” said Lawson, whose pass evaded a crowded goalmouth.
“There was a lot of traffic in front and than Marty appeared. It was fortunate the pass made it through,” said Lawson.
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said, “After they scored that goal, we got running around a little bit. Maine smelled blood. You’ve got to give them credit.”
Mercyhurst had played very well in the first period, limiting Maine’s transition opportunities by making sure it had a forward always coming back to help out.
The Lakers also generated some good chances only to have Howard reject them.
But they took four straight penalties spanning the first and second periods and Kariya scored 22 seconds after Mercyhurst had killed off the first penalty in a two-man disadvantage.
“We messed up the line change and had three defensemen and one forward out there. You’d think with three defensemen we’d be able to cover that,” said Gotkin.
The goals by Murphy and Heisten came off scrambles.
Murphy had set up Cliff Loya, who had his shot from the bottom of the left circle blocked.
“Their goalie tried to jump on the puck but he just missed it,” said Murphy, who circled the net with the puck and jammed it home “off one of their defensemen.”
Heisten converted a Troy Barnes pass from behind the net. He was positioned to Cifelli’s right, 15 feet from the net.
“The goalie was on his stomach and I shot it as hard as I could,” said Heisten.
Mercyhurst had a golden opportunity at the outset of the third period when Mike Carter sent David Wrigley in alone down the left wing.
But Howard made the stop.
“I cut across and tried to go five-hole but he got his stick on it,” said Wrigley.
Howard credited his mates for his shutout, saying, “The defensemen came up big tonight. I just try to go out and have fun. I love playing here.”
“Jimmy played a great game,” said Kariya. “He plays with a lot of confidence without being arrogant or cocky. He just stops the puck.”
Kariya also praised Mercyhurst, saying, “They played really well. They may not have the talent of a BU or some of the other good teams we play but they play to their strengths. They blocked the front of the net well.”
In the third period, Reimann scored with a slap shot from the top of the left circle off a Francis Nault pass and Heisten tapped in a great feed from Kariya.
BLACK BEARS 5, LAKERS 0
Mercyhurst (1-3-1) 0 0 0 ? 0
Maine (4-1-1) 0 3 2 ? 5
First period ? No scoring. Penalties: Maine, Greyeyes, charging, 11:28; Mer, Kirby, interference, 18:10
Second period ? 1. Maine, Kariya 2 (Lawson, Reimann), 5:42 (pp); 2. Maine, Murphy 1 (Loya), 12:58; 3. Maine, Heisten 4 (Barnes), 17:21. Penalties: Mer, Briggs, holding, 1:10; Mer, Martin, interference, 3:20; Mer, Chambers, hitting from behind, 4:37; Maine, Nault, interference, 13:36
Third period ? 4. Maine, Reimann 2 (Nault, Barnes), 7:27; 5. Maine, Heisten 5 (Kariya, Liscak), 16:38 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Ryan, interference, 4:53; Mer, Brown, cross-checking, 10:45; Maine, Richardson, unsportsmanlike conduct, 13:26; Mer, Relihan, interference, 16:07
Shots on goal: Mercyhurst 7-8-2?17; Maine 14-21-10?45
Goaltenders: Mercyhurst, Cifelli (45 shots-40 saves); Maine, Howard (17-17)
Power-play opportunities: Mercyhurst 0 of 4; Maine 2 of 6
High-percentage scoring chances: Mercyhurst 5-6-4?15; Maine 5-18-5?28