ORONO – University of Maine hockey coach Tim Whitehead felt it would take a while for his power-play units to jell after the Bears lost the likes of Hobey Baker Award finalist and All-American Greg Moore along with Derek Damon.
Moore had a team-high 12 power-play goals last season and Damon had nine.
The Bear power play came to life on Friday night, producing six goals in 13 opportunities en route to a 7-1 men’s hockey victory over Bemidji State (Minn.) in their home opener at Alfond Arena.
Maine improved to 2-0 while Bemidji State, which has played in the last two NCAA Tournaments and was the preseason choice to win College Hockey America, was playing its season-opener.
The two teams will play again Saturday night at 8.
Maine’s other goal, by Keith Johnson, was shorthanded.
Maine’s Keenan Hopson snapped a 19-game goal-less drought 3:27 into the game on the power play and Billy Ryan extended the lead 11:13 later with the man advantage. Johnson scored a demoralizing shorthanded goal with just 47 seconds remaining in the period to make it 3-0.
Matt Duffy made it 4-0 at the 12:27 mark of the middle period before Beaver senior right wing Luke Erickson answered on the power play 12 seconds later.
Maine’s Michel Leveille and Wes Clark scored on a two-man advantages in the third period and Brent Shepheard added a five-on-four goal.
Junior defenseman Bret Tyler set up the first three power- play goals by releasing quick shots from the point.
“We just kept it simple on the power play,” said Hopson. “We got the puck to the net and got rebounds.”
“We emphasized the power play all week in practice,” said Johnson.
Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said Maine’s power play “carved us up.
“Their defensemen have the ability to snap the puck through [to the front of the net],” said Serratore. “We’ve got to do a better job getting in the shooting lanes.”
“Their power play was unbelievable,” said Bemidji State senior right wing Erickson.
Maine had gone 0-for-5 on the power play in a 3-1 win over Minnesota last Friday night.
Hopson opened the scoring when Tyler’s wrister produced a rebound and he gathered it to the right of Bemidji State goalie Layne Sedevie and tucked it home.
“The rebound went behind me. I had to spin around [and shoot]. I think it went in over his pad,” said Hopson, who was relieved to end his scoring drought which dates back to a 5-2 win over Providence on Jan. 21.
“I thought I forgot how to score,” said Hopson, who had two assists to go with his goal.
Ryan made it 2-0 when he deflected Tyler’s wrister between Sedevie’s pads.
Johnson scored on a breakaway after Clark won the defensive zone faceoff and the puck squirted out of the zone.
He pulled away from backcheckers and snuck a 12-foot wrister inside the left post.
“Coach Whitehead has told me to use my speed and cut across the slot [in that situation],” said Johnson.
In the second period, Tyler took a shot through a screen that came out to Duffy and Duffy buried the rebound for his fourth goal in his last seven games dating back to last year.
“I put it far side,” said Duffy.
Erickson, the preseason College Hockey America Co-Player of the Year, beat Maine goalie Ben Bishop with a rising wrist shot from the left circle.
But the Bears killed off two penalties and Bishop made some important saves to preserve the 4-1 lead before the Bears broke it open late in the third period.
Leveille took a cross-ice pass from Mike Lundin and rifled a one-timer into the upper short- side corner to ice it with 3:46 remaining.
“He had stopped me low a few times earlier so I wanted to put it upstairs. It went in off his shoulder,” said Leveille.
Clark scored 1:08 later and Shepheard converted 1:16 after that.
Maine outshot Bemidji State 43-23. Bishop finished with 21 saves before freshman Dave Wilson came on with 8:56 left and made one save. Johnson and Shepheard had assists to go with their goals.
Sedevie wound up with 36 stops.
The Beavers, who didn’t get to skate at the Alfond Arena until the game because their equipment didn’t arrive until 3 p.m., went 1-for-8 on the power play. They arrived in Orono Thursday afternoon.
BLACK BEARS 7, BEAVERS 1
Bemidji State (0-1) 0 1 0 – 1
Maine (2-0) 3 1 3 – 7
First period – 1. Maine, Hopson 1 (Tyler), 3:27 (pp); 2. Maine, Ryan 1 (Tyler), 14:40 (pp); 3. Maine, Johnson 1 (unassisted), 19:13 (sh). Penalties: BS, Pope, holding, 2:40; BS, Bostock, cross checking, 3:20; Maine, Bellamy, interference, 3:20; BS, Bluhm, obstruction interference, 3:42; BS, Miller, obstruction hooking, 3:50; BS, Miller, charging, 5:58; Maine, Tyler, contact to the head-elbowing, 8:08; BS, Miller, holding the stick, 14:30; Maine, Johnson, tripping, 16:53; BS, Weselowski, obstruction-interference, 17:13; Maine, Purcell, obstruction-interference, 18:23
Second period – 4. Maine, Duffy 1 (Tyler), 12:27 (pp); 5. BS, Erickson 1 (Pope), 12:39 (pp). Penalties: Maine, De Kastrozza, slashing, 2:54; Maine, Duffy, contact to the head elbowing, 8:20; BS, Peluso, slashing, 11:05; Maine, Prucell, hooking, 12:34; BS, Weselowski, obstruction-interference, 13:03; BS, Bostock, cross-checking, 16:31; Maine, Danis-Pepin, obstruction-interference, 18:46
Third period – 6. Maine, Leveille 1 (Bellamy, Lundin), 16:14 (pp); 7. Maine, Clark 1 (Johnson, Hahn), 17:22 (pp); 8. Maine, Shepheard 1 (Hopson), 18:38 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Duffy, hooking, 5:37; Maine, Tyler, roughing, 6:38; BS, Winter, roughing, 6:38; BS, Marino, boarding, 9:08; BS, Marino, interference, 14:51; BS, Deterding, elbowing, 15:34; BS, Scofield, hooking, 16:45
Shots on goal: Bemidji 6-7-10-23; Maine 16-20-7-43
Goaltenders: Bemidji, Sedevie (43 shots-36 saves); Maine, Bishop (22-21), Wilson (1-1)
Power-play opportunities: Bemidji 1 of 8; Maine 6 of 13
High-percentage scoring chances: Bemidji 4-3-6-13; Maine 11-7-8-26