DENVER – Thirteenth-ranked Denver capitalized on two second-period power plays Friday night to forge a season-opening 2-0 men’s ice hockey victory over the University of Maine at Magness Arena.
It was the first season-opening loss for Maine since a 1-0 setback at Michigan to start the 1996-97 season.
“We took too many penalties,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “They capitalized twice on the power play. That was the difference in the game.”
The status of Maine junior goaltender Ben Bishop was a question mark heading into the contest. He sat out the Black Bears’ Oct. 5 exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 team after suffering an undisclosed leg injury during warm-ups.
Bishop demonstrated his readiness Friday night, keeping the No. 12 Bears close by racking up a career-high 46 saves.
“I was very pleased with Bish the way he bounced back,” Whitehead said. “He gave us every opportunity to tie that game up.”
However, Maine was unable to solve Denver senior goalie Peter Mannino, who registered the shutout with 25 saves.
“I thought the two goalies were the best players on the ice,” Whitehead said.
Denver outshot Maine by a commanding 48-25 margin, but wound up with only the two goals thanks in great part to the play of Bishop. He made 16 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves over the first 40 minutes alone.
Maine afforded Denver eight power-play opportunities, while the Bears were unable to convert any of their four man-advantage situations.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a bit with our penalties,” Whitehead said. “Our guys were pretty keyed up for the game, perhaps a little overexcited.”
Despite being outshot by a 24-11 margin in the second period, Maine was still within a goal during the latter stages. The Bears generated a handful of good scoring chances, only to be thwarted by Mannino.
Rob Bellamy created the best chance for the equalizer when he eluded a check and centered a pass to Billy Ryan, whose shot was deflected wide by Mannino with about two minutes left in the period.
The Pioneers then capitalized after Robby Dee was whistled for an elbowing penalty at the 19:17 mark. Bishop got a piece of a shot by Kyle Ostrow, but it caught the far post and deflected into the net.
That made it 2-0 with 17 seconds remaining in the period.
“The second period we had several chances and we didn’t take as many penalties,” Whitehead said. “The ones we did take were right after good scoring chances and it took our momentum right out.”
The Bears played a good third period, but were unable to get on the scoreboard. Maine ended the game with a power play and pulled Bishop for an extra attacker, to no avail.
The Pioneers broke the scoreless deadlock on the power play at 5:45 of the second period. With Wes Clark having lost his stick and the Bears unable to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, Tyler Ruegsegger scored the only goal the hosts would need.
There were seven first-year players in the lineup for the Bears, including forwards Tanner House, Andrew Sweetland, Glenn Bellmore, Lem Randall and Dee, along with defensemen Josh Van Dyk and Jeff Dimmen.
“It was a good experience for our freshmen and for our veterans who were playing some more important roles,” Whitehead said. “[Saturday] night we need to play more disciplined and more focused and we need to get to the net harder to get some pucks in.”
PIONEERS 2, BLACK BEARS 0
Maine (0-1) 0 0 0 – 0
Denver (1-0) 0 2 0 – 2
First period – No scoring; Penalties: Maine, Bellamy, boarding, 1:01; Maine, Duffy, cross-checking, 2:48; Denver, Brookwell, holding stick, 5:35; Denver, Bozak, holding, 15:50; Maine, Dimmen, cross-checking,18:01
Second period – 1. Denver, Ruegsegger 1 (Butler), 5:46 (pp); 2. Denver, Ostrow 1 (Ruegsegger, Butler), 19:43 (pp); Penalties: Maine, Hahn, tripping, :37; Maine, Randall, boarding, 4:21; Denver, Butler, interference, 7:05; Maine, Dee, elbowing, 19:17
Third period – No scoring; Penalties: Maine, Clark, interference, 1:38; Maine, Laise, slashing, 6:30; Denver, Glasser, elbowing, 18:16; Maine, Hopson, slashing, 19:04; Denver, Testwuide, roughing, 19:04
Shots on goal: Maine 7-11-7-25; Denver 16-24-8-48
Goaltenders: Maine, Bishop (48 shots-46 saves); Denver, Mannino (25-25)
Power-play opportunities: Maine 0 of 4; Denver 2 of 8