GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Two years ago, the University of North Dakota ruined the University of Maine men’s hockey team’s home-opening series by beating the Bears 4-3 in overtime and 3-1.
The Bears avenged those setbacks this weekend as senior captain Michel Leveille scored a pair of goals and sophomore goalie Ben Bishop made 33 saves Saturday night to lead the Bears to a 3-1 victory at Engelstad Arena for a sweep. Maine won Friday night’s game 6-2.
The Bears, who entered the weekend ranked fourth in the country, improved to 5-0 while the third-ranked Fighting Sioux fell to 3-3.
“It was just a solid effort by everybody this weekend from goalies to defense to forwards. Ben was terrific,” said center Leveille.
Freshman right wing Teddy Purcell extended his goal-scoring streak to three games in the first period and Leveille made it 3-0 with goals 2:48 apart in the second period.
Leveille’s first goal came just 1:20 after the Bears had killed off a series of penalties including a pair of five-on-threes that spanned 51 and 29 seconds.
“To kill off those penalties and then come right back after that and score was a big turnaround in the game,” said Leveille.
“Ben played phenomenal in those couple of minutes,” said Bear senior left wing Josh Soares. “They had an open net but [Matt Watkins] hit the post. Then, boom, we come back with a goal and put another one in and that just kind of sealed the game.”
Bishop said his mates “blocked shots and did a good job staying in the [passing and shooting] lanes and getting their sticks in the lanes” while shorthanded.
Soares set up Leveille’s first goal with a pass from the side of the net.
“He was between the hash marks and the circle and he was in perfect shooting position,” said Soares. “I put it there and he banged it in with a nice one-timer.”
Leveille said Soares and Purcell did a good job cycling the puck down low and Soares “made a nice hard pass. I one-timed it high, blocker side” on UND goalie Philippe Lamoureux.
Leveille said the fact Soares had good pace on the pass enabled it to get past some UND sticks to him.
Purcell also picked up an assist.
Moments later, Leveille poked the puck loose and swooped on it along the left- wing boards in the UND zone before cutting across the low slot and beating Lamoureux with a short-side backhander.
“I was looking to pass but nobody was there so I took it to the net,” said Leveille. “I knew from watching video that he covered down low pretty well. I saw him open up when I moved across and I put it between his arm and chest.”
Bishop and his mates efficiently protected the lead until Brian Lee beat Bishop with a deflected point shot with 2:07 left in the game. UND was on the power play and Lamoureux [25 saves] had been pulled in favor of an extra attacker.
But that’s as close as they were to get.
Purcell had used Lee as a screen on his game-opening goal as he rushed up the right wing in a one-on-one with Lee.
“He was the ninth overall pick in the  draft so I figured I wasn’t going to beat him so I said why not use him as a screen. His legs were open so I shot it through them and it went far side,” said Purcell, who had taken a pass from Simon Danis-Pepin.
Even though he had a busy night, Bishop credited his mates for making his job easier.
“The defense did a good job. I saw most of the pucks and was able to make the first save and cover up the rebounds,” said the 6-foot-7 goalie.
The Fighting Sioux were without Jonathan Toews, the third overall pick in last June’s NHL draft (by Chicago). Toews, who shares the team scoring lead, reportedly injured his shoulder Friday.
BLACK BEARS 3, FIGHTING SIOUX 1
Maine (5-0) 1 2 0 – 3
North Dakota (3-3) 0 0 1 – 1
First period – 1. Maine, Purcell 5 (Danis-Pepin), 3:20. Penalties: Maine, Tyler, hooking, 6:24; UND, Duncan, slashing, 11:39; Maine, Plaszcz, slashing, 15:16
Second period – 2. Maine, Leveille 3 (Soares, Purcell), 8:39; 3. Maine, Leveille 4 (unassisted), 11:27. Penalties: Maine, Clark, tripping, 2:39; Maine, Soares, obstruction-hooking, 3:48; Maine, Johnson, tripping, 5:19; UND, Radke, slashing, 15:08; UND, Lee, roughing, 19:12
Third period – 4. UND, Lee 1 (Porter, Chorney), 17:53 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Ryan, high sticking, 1:10; UND, Chorney, slashing, 6:19; UND, Kaip, slashing, 10:42; Maine, Shepheard, roughing, 11:28; UND, Duncan, roughing, 11:28; Maine, Duffy, high sticking, 16:18; UND, Porter, slashing, 19:30
Shots on goal: Maine 8-12-8-28; UND 8-18-8-34
Goaltenders: Maine, Bishop (34 shots-33 saves); UND, Lamoureux (28-25)
Power-play opportunities: Maine 0 of 6, UND 1 of 5