ORONO – University of Maine freshman Zach Sill didn’t know he was going to play in Saturday night’s men’s hockey game against Bemidji State (Minn.) until that morning.
And the left winger’s first appearance in a Black Bear jersey was a memorable one as he scored a critical insurance goal 7:58 into the third period to help seventh-ranked Maine complete its sweep of the Beavers with a hard-fought 6-3 triumph at Alfond Arena. Maine won 7-1 on Friday night.
Sill expanded Maine’s lead to 5-3 and fellow freshman Teddy Purcell sewed up the win by scoring his second of the game on the power play with 3:15 remaining.
Junior center Wes Clark also had a pair of goals for 3-0 Maine and sophomore defenseman Matt Duffy scored for the second straight game.
Bret Tyler had three assists, Billy Ryan had two, and Ben Bishop made 20 saves for Maine.
Luke Erickson had a pair of goals and Ryan Miller had the other, all on the power play, for 0-2 BSU while goalie Matt Climie finished with 31 saves.
Sill was elated with his goal.
“I was in awe when I was sitting on the bench. I couldn’t believe it. It was a great feeling,” said Sill.
Sill had passed the puck to Rob Bellamy, and Bellamy’s shot from the middle of the slot deflected off a BSU defenseman.
“I skated right at the net and I saw the puck in between Mike Hamilton’s feet. I just whacked it toward the net and it went in,” said Sill.
Climie said it was a “definitely a tough break.”
“I came out to challenge the shooter and our defenseman actually blocked it and it stuck underneath him. He slid by me and the puck obviously [sat right there],” said Climie. “The guy [Sill] had the wide-open net.”
Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said his team was playing well and had plenty of jump just before Sill’s goal.
“That goal deflated us,” Serratore said.
Purcell’s clincher came about when he split the Beaver defense and broke in alone on Climie before snapping a 20-foot wrister over his glove.
“I was coming through the neutral zone full speed, [Michel Leveille] made a hard pass, and they weren’t expecting it. I kind of caught them flat-footed,” said Purcell. “I cut in on my forehand and his glove was wide open. The ice was bad and maybe if I deked [faked], I would have lost the puck, so I said why not try it up there.”
Climie said, “I dropped too early and exposed my glove side high. He made a good shot.”
Clark opened the scoring 4:33 into the game when his backhander from the low slot off a Ryan pass beat Climie to the low short-side corner.
Miller tied it on the power play with a rising one-timer from the right circle off a cross-ice pass from Rob Sirianni.
Erickson gave BSU a 2-1 lead on the power play as he swept home his own rebound from the edge of the crease off a Matt Pope feed.
Duffy tied it on a five-on-three by roofing a one-timer short side off a Tyler pass.
Clark gave Maine the lead for good 4:49 into the second period off what he termed a “quick strike” faceoff play as Chris Hahn won a draw to Keith Johnson, who chipped it to the far post.
“I saw the five-hole and I put it through there,” said Clark of his point-blank backhander.
Purcell made it 4-2 during a five-on-three as Ryan threaded the needle to the far post.
“We had some time before the faceoff and Bill told me to be ready. He said he wasn’t going to look at me. The next thing I know it was on my stick, and I touched it into the empty net,” said Purcell.
Erickson cut it to 4-3 on the power play later in the period when his snap shot deflected over Bishop’s shoulder off a Bear defenseman.
Maine caught a break early in the third period when Shane Holman’s wrister slipped between Bishop’s pads but went wide of the far post.
“We knew it was going to be a much tougher game than last night’s and, sure enough, it was,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “We were able to convert on the power play again [3-for-11].”
Serratore, whose team went 3-for-7 on the power play, said his team “can’t play much better than that. I was proud of their effort. But the bottom line is, typically, if you give those top 10, 12 teams five-on-threes, the puck is going to wind up in the back of your net.”
BLACK BEARS 6, BEAVERS 3
Bemidji State (0-2) 1 2 0 – 3
Maine (3-0) 1 3 2 – 6
First period – 1. Maine, Clark 2 (Ryan, Tyler), 4:33; 2. BSU, Miller 1 (Sirianni, Schofield), 9:49 (pp). Penalties: BSU, Deterding, cross-checking, 2:26; BSU, Weselowski, tripping, 5:17; BSU, Pope, interference, 6:02; Maine, Shepheard, slashing, 6:33; Maine, Ramsey, obstruction-interference, 7:52; Maine, Hahn, holding the stick, 12:28; BSU, Vadnais, elbowing, 15:14; BSU, Bostock, interference, 17:21; Maine, Bellamy, obstruction-interference, 18:20
Second period – 3. BSU, Erickson 2 (Pope, Holman), :14 (pp); 4. Maine, Duffy 2 (Tyler, Hopson), 2:26 (pp); 5. Maine, Clark 3 (Hahn, Johnson), 4:49; 6. Maine, Purcell 2 (Ryan, Shepheard), 11:06 (pp); 7. BSU, Erickson 3 (Allen, Marino), 13:50 (pp). Penalties: BSU, Deterding, holding, :34; BSU, Erickson, hooking, 2:22; BSU, Roth, obstruction-interference, 6:41; BSU, Roth, obstruction-hooking, 10:20; BSU, Schwartzbauer, contact to the head-high sticking, 10:59; Maine, Duffy, hooking, 12:00
Third period – 8. Maine, Sill 1 (Bellamy, Hamilton), 7:58; 9. Maine, Purcell 3 (Tyler, Leveille), 16:45 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Soares, hooking, 4:56; BSU, Winter, interference, 5:26; Maine, Leveille, unsportsmanlike conduct-diving, 5:26; Maine, Johnson, boarding, 8:11; BSU, Bostock, holding, 15:19
Shots on goal: BSU 8-8-7-23; Maine 16-12-9-37
Goaltenders: BSU, Climie (37 shots-31 saves); Maine, Bishop (23-20)
Power-play opportunities: Maine 3 of 11; BSU 3 of 7
High-percentage scoring chances: BSU 7-5-5-17; Maine 9-9-11-29